This is a short story based off of a song by the same name written by my good friend John Warren. The song is amazing, and I wish I had an MP3 to show you, but I do not.
At any rate, critiques are welcome. I'll give a few of my own here: I think this thing starts off strong, but tapers off by the end until its lost all its impact. I wrote this in an hour on my lunch break after stewing over it whilst frying chicken, so give me a little slack. Also, I have trouble portraying certain emotions in words, which is evident in certain places.
Anyway, before I put up the story, I would like to plug John's band Affectus a little bit. I believe they are on iTunes (not sure) but they do have a couple of their songs on YouTube. They don't have the one this story is based off up, but I still think you should check out his stuff, and if you like it, give him some support. His band is in a tough place and they deserve to go places.
Anyway, the story is in the next post.
My dad was a bear of a man, tough and unbeatable. I knew he was a soldier for the king once, and I always found myself wondering why he would leave such a life of excitement and action for the boring countryside. He always told me that is was my mother that made him settle down, which to me back then was crazy talk. A woman slowing a man such as my dad down? Absurd! He would always laugh and tell me I would understand one day.
Once when I was young, my dad looked at me and said, "Son, there is no time for grey areas. Things should either be amazing or terrible, but nothing should just be okay." I looked up at him with my bright eyes, full of childish innocence. "What do you mean?" I asked. "A war is coming." was all he would say.
Years later I came home from the village to a destroyed house, my father standing amongst twenty dead soldiers, countless small blades and arrows protruding from his body. My mother's lifeless body lay behind him, in a pool of her own blood. My father stood protectively in front of her; if it weren't for the weapons in his body, I would not have known he was hurt.
When he saw me, he smiled. "Son, there is no time in life for grey areas."
"Dad," I replied. "What happened?"
He shook his head. "Son, there is a war coming. You go grab your armour. You grab your sword." He turned, slowly, approaching my mother's body. There he fell to his knees, taking her into his arms. "You kiss your mother goodbye, and you go do something great with your life."
I was stunned. Grief, confusion, anger; these emotions welled up inside of me until I thought they might flood out in a torrent of tears and screams. "Dad..." I said, reaching out and stepping towards him.
"Shh," he said, carressing my mother's face, not acknowledging I said anything. "Don't cry, Gwen. Your son will come back home. And when he does, he will be twice the man I ever was."
His strength gave out, and he collapsed, bringing my whole world with him. There are no words to describe that anguish. No words to describe the feeling you get when your own father, the greatest man you had ever known, tells you to go be twice the man he ever was. It was an impossible task, and its impossibility drug me down into ground.
But I grabbed my armor. I took up my sword. I kissed my mother goodbye. And I made a promise that I would return with the bastards responsible for this dead. I searching through the dead bodies of the soldiers, learning they were part of the king's army. I remember asking around a nearby village, learning some soldiers had passed through to take care of a rebel. From the rebels, I learned that my father had refused to re-join the king's army, and they killed him.
The next few years saw me drowning in a river of blood, flowing freely from where ever I struck the king's army. I became the rebel army. I became death itself.
Like my father, no man could take me out. But also like my father, a woman could. Men would come at me with swords, axes, spears, weapons no one could ever imagine and still not lay a finger on me; but this woman, she could come at me with her eyes alone and I would fall to my knees in surrender. I had been impaled upon a spear and not stopped fighting; but she would reach out with her hand, touch my cheek, and I would be her's. She would own me completely.
She gave me her body. She gave me a child.
All of a sudden I understood exactly why my father quit the army. I understood why he quit being a warrior. I know now why he choose to be a father, a husband. I understood completely why he died for it. So just as I was single-handedly winning the war for the rebels, I ended it for them: I left the army, I quit fighting. I left my hate, anger, and pain behind to be with my wife. I gave up my sword for a hammer, my shield for boards. I focused on building up rather then destroying. She gave me a son, and I understood everything.
But I came home one day to her dead body, draped over my son's corpse. Once again I found myself stunned, watching as pieces of everything I had built up to that point collapsed around me. Once again my heart filled with hate, with pain, and with anger. So here I am, with my family, drowning myself in a flood of booze and self destruction.
Or am I out in the village, finding out it was once again the king's men who had destroyed everything I hold dear? Or am I sneaking into his castle, poisoning the ale he intends to use to celebrate his victory in the war? Or am I sitting in that wine cellar, cup of that very same ale in hand, ready to finally go back home to my father and mother, ready to let them finally meet my family.
It doesn't matter. I no longer care.
So, raise up your glasses and swallow the flood. Tomorrow our stories are written in blood.