Once Upon a Dream

A collection of short stories, poems, and ideas.


7. One Day of Bravery


                  The frigid air gnaws at my numb cheeks, sweeping through the crowd of soldiers as we ride through rolling hills. A comfortable position I am in right now, the metal plates of armor cutting through my sore shoulders with each jolt of my horse. The gauntlets around my wrists weigh down my already-weakened hands on the reins. And these hunks of steel are supposed to save our lives? The exasperated groans of men echo into the clouded skies as another wave of wind washes through our bodies. I bite my lip to keep from complaining; no men want to listen to the whinnies of a French girl.

                  Though the weather remains miserable, I am still proud to be riding along Joan of Arc. I had heard of her courageous trepidations and it inspired me to join this battle, this cause. Not that this act masked my fear of the world. Maybe it is better to die in service for your country rather than a worthless maid. My thoughts are distracted by another gust of wind, and tears cling to my eyes. But a solid slap on the back lets those tears drop onto the earth. I look up, winded, to see Joan gazing at me with warm brown eyes.

                  “Fear not. We will win this battle.” She says it with such certainty that my fears are forgotten.

                  “Do not waste your words of wisdom on a mere lady.” I wish her not to see the tears in my eyes. To know that I am a coward.

                  “Wisdom is for everyone who listens.” She whispers gently. But this is no time for a fan-girl interview. We have been flanked before we even reach the walls; and ambush. A hoard of men have appeared over the horizon, and they rush towards us. Adrenaline flows through my body and gives me strength anew. A deep red has already flooded into the sky, filthy with the smoke of torches. The stench digs into my nose, settling in my throat. The cries of dying men sting through the air, and our men falter. I falter with them, cowardice replacing my adrenaline. Fear clouds our judgment.  But Joan is with us, urging us on. “Do not stop!” She yells, her voice reverberating around us, invigorating us. She rides beside me on her steed, chest-plate and helmet brilliant silver. In the front of our troop, I can see the many soldiers we’re against. The clang of metal on metal echoes in my ears. And then I hear something, something beyond the sound of dying men and others fighting for their lives. The sound of a bow being notched. And the buzz of a string as an arrow is released from it.  

                  Warm blood splatters on my face as Joan’s horse rears in front of mine. At first, I do not understand. But then I see her, Joan, a black arrow protruding from her neck. The shocking truth sinks in, and I realize she has taken that arrow for me. But there are no tears in my eyes as I gaze horrified at the red liquid streaming viciously down her neck. Staining the silver. She almost slips of her horse, before I catch her and drag her onto mine. My arms are weak but the men around me help hoist her onto my saddle. I grip the reins tightly, my arms wrapped sturdily around her waist to keep her from falling again. Her blood pours onto my wrists. I need no instructions on what to do, as the enemy breach our defenses. Blades pointed towards me.  

                  I urge my horse away falling back into the sea of soldiers. My fear is dissolved; it will not bother me again. My cowardice has been overcome by determination, at last. I ride fast, but steady, Joan’s breath a quavering gasp each time a tremor runs through her.  The arrow still in her neck, she turns so her brown eyes catch mine in a frail gaze, and breathes out “Thank you”.

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