Sunday September 13th, 2015

The exercise:

Write something which takes place on: death row.

Because there is a short stretch of road not far from here that pretty much always has some roadkill on it when I go through there. Usually squirrels. Quail sometimes. Either way, it strikes me as an area that wildlife would be better off avoiding.

Rebecca and her boyfriend dropped by for a quick visit this afternoon and it was great to see them. They were just in town to pick up Rebecca's dog (they'd planned on doing it last weekend but they were both sick with the flu). Definitely too short but it was nice to catch up.

I think I was going to say something else here but I can't remember what on earth it might have been. So... on with the show.


"We need to hurry," Ed called over his shoulder as we rushed through the concourse. His shoes sounded like they were going to be ripped off at every step by the soda residue glistening on the concrete floor. "The game starts in five minutes!"

"Plenty of time," I muttered as I shoved past a family of four with no apparent awareness of the looming deadline. "Plenty of time."

As it turned out, there was no need to worry. We arrived at our seats with at least half a minute to spare. There wasn't even anyone else seated in our row, so there was no one to squeeze past.

"Not the best view in the house," Ed observed, "but not bad."

"Not comfortable, either," I said as I tried to shift myself into a position that didn't send waves of pain up my back. "Is your seat cold and lumpy too?"

"Yeah but I think I'll get used to it."

"When your ass goes numb?"

"Hey, at least we got tickets, right?" Ed opened his mouth to add some other meaningless reassurance but then he kinda just... froze there.

"What?" I asked before turning to see what he was staring at.

"Excuse me," a tall man in a black cloak said, his words echoing strangely out of the depths of his hood. "But this is my row."


Greg said...

If I recall right, the rule about roadkill in Canada is that if you hit it, you can't take it, but the guy behind you can? So clearly you ought to be collecting this roadkill and setting up a smoke-shed in the garden so that you can sell squirrel and quail jerky at the market on weekends. If squirrel won't sell then rebrand it as "extra-chewy' jerky instead and let people mentally assume it's beef. If they ask about the flavour being less beefy than they were expecting tell them it's the herbs you use in the smoking process and extoll the health benefits :)
Hmm, well the venue sounds very familiar, but I'm not sure I've ever come across a guy who books out a whole row before. I like the description of the seats on the row, and its very emptiness, but I now have to wonder how they managed to buy tickets for it. It seems like the guy in the hood might have been expecting them... :)

Death Row
There was the slam of a distant door, followed by a shattering sound that might have been china. Whatever it was it must have hit the door only just as it closed. Then footsteps stamped across a wooden floor; the creak of another door opening and closing, more footsteps, this time on stone. Then the door to the shed opened and Death stalked inside and sat down on the frayed, sagging deckchair. He put his hand out and his coffee cup, full to the brim with something as black as the feathers of crows, appeared. He sipped from, then set it down on a bag of potting compost.
"Why," he said to the raven sitting on the handle of a hoe, "did humans decide there had to be a Mrs. Death?" The raven shuffled from one foot to another and preened a feather. "I was happy as a bachelor," said Death, his voice hollow and mournful, like the emptiness of a mother grieving for her child, "I liked being free to come and go as I pleased, keep my own hours, and do the job my way."
"You were always a bit of a rebel," said the raven. It's voice was raspy, and the beak gave it some trouble with sibilants, but otherwise it spoke good English.
"In my own way," said Death. The plant-pots on the shelves rattled slightly in the harmonics of his voice. "Not like War. And Pestilence... well, there's a rebel in all the bad ways. But I had style. I had finesse. People were impressed when I turned up."
"People are still scared of you, boss."
"Now what have I got?" Death continued as though the raven hadn't spoken. "There are things in the kitchen I don't know how to use. There are anti-macassars on the chairs. There are slippers I'm supposed to wear indoors!"
"Oh yes," said Death bitterly. "There are now rows every night. Oh very good."

Anonymous said...

Surprise! I'm still alive!

Death Row:

It was what I had imagined the war to be like.

Before the wooden stand was every Renterran within a one-day’s ride distance. Their faces were twisted with disgust, their mouths screwed into forming around hateful words meant to harm me. Everyone, from the old men who knew how far the realm had come, to women carrying their unborn children, to youth like me who had only been raised on stories of the horror, held clenched fists high. I was surprised to see these fists empty, for surely I was walking into battle and Renterra’s children meant to kill me with whatever forces they had.

These people truly did hate me, which seemed strange. While I was Lucan, I was much beloved. As myself? Despised, possibly more than my grandfather. A strange turn of events, indeed.

On the wooden stand stood the remainder of my family. Lucan stood looking out over his people. He radiated royalty, his tall posture and blank face the very image of a commanding ruler. Yet, as his eyes flitted among his people, there was a compassion in his blue eyes that spoke more than his face ever could. Unlike our grandfather, he cared about his people and wished to see them well-off.

Then there was Amicus. He stood behind Lucan, a sword held in his left hand. Even as I approached, I saw his fist tighten and loosen repeatedly over the hilt. When had he last held a weapon more powerful than a hammer and chisel? He, too, stood stoic. But where Lucan’s eyes told a different story, Amicus’s spoke nothing. It was as though he had drawn curtains over those brown eyes, hiding any emotion from view; a true warrior’s impassive gaze.

And Silvia—my mother. Fate above, why was it so hard for me to see her as such?—stood off to the side. Her shoulders were stiffly placed, her hands clutched the fabric of her skirt. She, too, was wearing the same impassive gaze as her brother, but hers couldn’t quite stay in place. It was a constant battle, I could see, her trying to seem as though my execution wouldn’t affect her. But she was my mother, after all. Even though she knew what I had done, or almost done, she had given birth to me all those years ago. I was her first-born, her son. Lucan and I were the only things she had left of our father.

I would have been more surprised if she had managed stoicism, even in the face of my atrocities.

I was now at the foot of the wooden stairs. I could see the chisel marks and the nail heads. Every fiber of the pine planks were distinct and singular as I moved to take the first step. Strange, indeed. I wish I had that clarity earlier, to prevent myself from getting into my predicament in the first place.

The jeering and harsh words had reached their peak just as I fully came onto the stage. Stage. What a perfect word. How appropriate that this would be my final part to play.

I walked up beside Lucan and stood there, taking in everything. A sweep of the faces showed me the dismal truth, the one I had refused to accept throughout my entire journey to the stage. Abelinda didn’t care. Of course she wouldn’t. I had betrayed her just as I had my own flesh and blood. There would be no reason why I should expect her forgiveness. I didn’t deserve it on any account.

But there was movement at the right edge of the crowd. My gaze jumped over there, still holding onto the smallest thread of hope. And there, those ruby eyes. I felt smile tug at my lips as the thread of hope expanded into a quilt, wrapping around me in a warmth I had never expected. I felt tears, but not out of sorrow or regret. No, those tears I had shed earlier in my cell.

I was forgiven by her. I could now accept my death with open arms.

Marc said...

Greg - yeah... no.

Yes, perhaps they were supposed to be in those seats after all. I reckon an interesting conversation follows here. Maybe I should write it some time.

Hah, nice twist on the prompt. I shall consider myself outdone in this matter. Really enjoyed your details and descriptions here.

Ivy - hurray, you're still alive!

I hope you've been well :)

Great details and descriptions in your piece as well. Some excellent scene setting and storytelling too!