Poem Stained Fingertips

"I may have poem stained fingertips but I have a tongue coated with a thousand pins of silence."
A refillable book of every idea and scrap that I can come up with. This will include everything from poems, short stories, metaphors and microfiction.
AKA: a fancier name than the actual word document (Bits and Bobs)

6Likes
2Comments
953Views
AA

1. Soul Things - Short Story

 

The King was dying.

That was a known fact; everyone knew it in the way he spent more time in bed than on his throne and he knew it in the way his crown felt like a ring of iron thorns than decorative metal. He told his sons and each face didn’t break with grief because they already knew and their mother’s parting had taught them composure.

He told them that he would decide which one of them became King when they completed a favour for him. He wanted them to present him with an object that represented their soul. He gave them a year’s deadline and sent them on their way.

The eldest, Cedric walked into the armoury and searched the weapons that he had shouldered for two-thirds of his life. He was a soldier, having kept the murderers and monsters free from Calire, and he knew that his soul would be embedded in metal. He stared at the swords and knives, the pistols and rifles, the casings of bullets and the blood tattoos on his knuckles. He felt the weight of each weapon in his hand, remembering each kill and injury they had made.

Although he saw faces of humans and animals alike, the hardest being a woman with a gun balanced on her shoulder, seventeen winters etched into her cheeks but hatred stained into her eyes, each one did not physically weigh differently. He groaned and marched onto the battlefields, searching for himself in the torn ground and struggling flowers, footsteps littered just as much as bullet holes. But still, he saw no difference, no punch to his ribcage that registered the feeling of knowing.

“Why can’t I see myself in those fields?” he groaned, nursing his headache in liquor and a tavern girl.

“Because you are not destruction; you are bravery,” the tavern girl said over the rim of a glass, smiling at him with knowledge written in the gaps of her teeth. “You do what is necessary even though you hate it, and you stand even when the mud drags you down. You are Atlas with the world in your hands and yet you carry it high.”

For the next couple of months, he put the thought of blood and decay out of his mind. All he saw was her, the way she became his ship in a period of high storm, licking away his fears with a swipe of her lips and kneading the stresses out of his arms with a single burst of laughter. He still fought and wore his valiant nature in the scars on his chest, but he came home and didn’t scream himself hoarse with nightmares. Instead, the future painted itself on the backs of his eyelids and hope nestled in the pause between heartbeats.

He gave her his mother’s ring, the one he had promised her to give to the love of his life, and the next day presented both her and the ring to his father.

“My liege, this is what represents me, this woman and this symbol of our love,” Cedric said confidently but he father just shook his head, smiling like a crescent moon.

“You must have misunderstood me, son. When I said your soul I meant the whole of you, every second of who you are, not just a segment,” he coughed, wiped at his lips and stayed with them for lunch. He loved his son’s future wife, and he knew that they would spend many happy years together, siring heir’s that would be loved and cherished.

But it was still not what he needed.

The thought kept Cedric awake at night and the pressure made him angry and less vibrant.

Even his future wife couldn’t drag the hell from his mind.

He searched again; in the last poppy of a brutalised garden, in the knife, he had forged for himself, in the laughter of his fellow soldier’s. Each one told a story, the poppy of neverending strength, the knife of determination, blood sweat and tears, and the laughter of camaraderie and happiness.

He thought he found it in his wedding day, the ring of flowers held in her hands and their first kiss as newlyweds, and then as she leaned over the toilet a month later with a grin on her lips and a glow in her sweating face. But every time he came to his father with a new representation he just shook his head.

“You cannot find yourself in other people, that comes after you know who you are,” his father explained and sent him on his way again.

Time was running out as Cedric felt the weeks turn into days.

He sat around a campfire in the yard of the armoury, his hand on his wife’s stomach and his mouth angled towards his friends. He listened to their stories, to the music whistling from their lips as they described the victories, the afterwords and prologues of their days but never the fight, never the bloody disasters.

He consulted the fire and found realisation.

On the deadline, he rushed to his father’s room, the last brother to see him, with drink still echoing in his brain, mused hair and burned hands. His fingers were black with ash and he dumped his handful on the breakfast table, watching the black dust ruin the white cloth.

His smile was enough to shatter glass.

“My soul is ash, something that has been burned by happenings and coloured accordingly. But it proves that I can survive, that I am not the destruction but the epilogue of it; the following day of peace. It proves that I need people or external forces to live and that I aid those who will have me. I am a comfort to others and myself and I have always been.”

Cedric was high on glee, shaking even though his hands were blackened and stained.

His father nodded, “You have finally found yourself, my boy,” and he hugged him.

He sent Cedric on his way and shook his head fondly when the boy did not notice the other items on the table, now dusted with fine flakes.

 

The youngest; Sebastian, retreated down to the library. He had lived in that singular room for far beyond his young life. His first memories were sitting at his mother’s knee, hours past his bedtime and fighting off sleep, listening to her spinning fables out of a fine-tuned tongue. He liked the vibration of words, the inner voice when reading internally, and the way he found peace with the crack of a book. But he couldn’t very well drag the library to his father, no, the request had been more subtle than that.

He sat with the fire warming his back, and a book warming his knees and thought. He needed to narrow it down.

His young mind was wise still, analytical to a point of definite conclusions and he had plenty of time to work his mind around the riddle.

He thought of bringing the first book his mother taught him to read, a book of fairy tales that he remembered tracing his fingers over. His first word, the one he had written in perfect handwriting had been story.

His answer had to lie in that room.

He thought of the last book his mother had ever held, the one they had read together when she was ill in bed, the one Sebastian had finished when she could no longer speak. He had thrown it in the hearth when she had died, overcome with anger, but he had rescued it before it could burn completely. It had a cracked spine and two burned corners, words brittle and grief coated. It represented resilience and healing, choked lungs and knotted tongues but it wasn’t enough.

He sighed, leaned back in his chair. In the coming day's frustration mounted and he barked at servants, overturning every single book he had ever read, memories blurring into chapters and paragraphs.

His fingers became dusted with ink transfer and his back ached from kneeling down.

“Seb, I beg of you to go outside,” his best friend said, coaxing him from the spacious room. They sat on the steps of the palace, cigarettes between their lips as they leaned back on their hands. His best friend rolled his sleeves up to his elbows and winked when he caught Sebastian looking. He then loosened Sebastian’s tie and pleaded with him to relax. Sebastian opened a new book when the cigarette had been burned to cinders and talked through his problems with his friend. They switched location to underneath the old willow tree and Sebastian switched from his friend’s face to a new page.

“Since you love books so much, have you ever tried writing one?” his friend asked, exhaling through another cigarette. His lips tasted of smoke and promises when Sebastian leaned over, his words dragging in the shocked air.

“You are a genius!” Sebastian said, leaping up and racing off.

The door slammed into the wall when he ran into his room and his hands were grappling hooks as they lifted his pillow. There lay his notebook, the one his mother had gotten him for his coming of age. Its pages held everything from rambling thoughts, passages from books, and ideas of his own, chapters of fictional happenings and scribbles lighting up the page.

The power of his story was written there, his mind and sweat and sanity. It had pages ripped out and stuffed back into the book, free from their spine but still there.

He laughed with joy and presented it to his father, slapping it down on the wood.

“This is my soul. Blank and learning at first, crawling before it can run. It is first filled with basics, first steps into the story world and then it progresses into a life. It may not breathe but it thinks. One day it will end, maybe unfinished and suddenly or maybe complete, just like life is. That is who I am, the battle of words and perseverance.”

His father nodded, “I am glad you have found yourself, my son,”  he then hugged him and let Sebastian leave. It was the first item to grace the breakfast table.

 

The middle son; Clyde, took longer than the other two to find what he needed. He didn’t know himself and he spent the first few days pacing the palace floors. He had been brought up in the kitchens, memories of freshly made bread and a tray in his arms as he helped the kitchen maids. But that made up a small portion and he quickly outgrew the feeling of dough between his fingers.

His father had taught him how to fish and so Clyde spent a week on a small fishing boat, cast adrift in the middle of a lake. There was cold hugging the gaps in his jacket and the feeling of knots under his hands, the rough material of the nets following close after. But he could never kill the fish, only release them, and the water didn’t answer him the way it once did.

It was adventure that whispered his name.

Time dragged on and he found himself in gipsy caravans with the sands of time underneath his fingernails, circus tents with smoke hanging on his lapels, and wild forests with dirt and childhood in his bones. He didn't need other people's bodies to warm him when he had a feeling of need in his chest. He didn't need affection from them, not ever.

He found a golden gooses egg and old mans treasure, a dragon’s last horde and lost civilisation’s last drawings. But nothing seemed good enough.

He sent letters to his father and got rapid correspondence of looking within and looking easy. The words didn’t make sense.

He did not, however, get frustrated or angry, he just moved locations, staying calm and curling up with his knees against his chin when he felt negative feelings creep in.

Clyde learned the art of paint and words, the drag of the sword and the scent of perfume and straight whiskey. Still, nothing came to him.

He returned home with rapid footsteps and a poor man's smile, pockets empty and heart dry. He dropped to his father’s bedside, looking into wistful and sick eyes, and took his hands in his.

“Father, I could not find a thing, a single thing,” his voice cracked and he looked down, remembering the way his mother used to look when she still loved him despite the disappointment. “I thought of bread and adventure, clocks and water, treasure and time, but nothing fit.”

“Explain it to me then,” his father encouraged, pulling Clyde off the floor and onto cotton sheets.

Clyde described each object in turn, “I thought of bringing you the sky because it looks over everything and I want to be everything. It’s blue and freckled with stars when it comes to darkness, it's cloudy and stormy but it always changes always returns. But I can’t be everything and everywhere, and I can’t give you the sky. I am sorry.”

“How could you give me the sky, think, Clyde, think,” his father urged, combing his hair through Clyde’s, the very same colour his mother used to have.

Clyde sat on the edge of the bed, feeling small and unworthy. He sniffled and stopped crying, staring into older eyes.

Then he slowly stood, marched into the bathroom and returned with a hand mirror. “This may be yours but that is its purpose so that when it is angled right, you can see the sky from your bed. You can look and find yourself, and find everywhere at the same time.”

Realisation carved dimpled near his grin and he handed his father the mirror.

“You have found yourself, my prince,” his father said, hugged him and watched him leave after another hug.

At the end of the day, he stared at the three items on his breakfast table. He swallowed down his nausea, dragged his ill bones from the bed and carried his crown as though it was feathers. He marched into the throne room with a cape on his shoulders, elegance and royalty in every fibre and every word.

“I tasked my sons with finding representations of their soul. Now, I may be subjective on this but I wanted to see who matched closely with mine and their mother’s definition. Queen Anna always believed that it was honesty and hard work, wisdom paired with imagination. My belief is that it not people but rather symbols of yourself, of internal cogs and gears.” He took his crown from his head, watching his warped face in the gilded curves and edges.

Slowly he walked to his sons, who stood waiting.

Cedric looked satisfied.

Sebastian confident.

Clyde apprehensive.

He settled it on his middle child’s head and watched the weight settle on Clyde's soul, sagging but then holding true like the title was a cloud. He smiled and took his face in his hands, “It takes every manner of strength to admit defeat and then rise from it, to ask the world and have it answer no. But you walked through it, you listened and asked for help. You may not know who you definitely are but your soul is ever-changing and your definition will do, just like the sky.”

He stepped back and grinned fiercely, this was what being a father was all about, trusting others and passing the mantle on to another, “My request may have been trickery but you all performed well.”

He hugged all three, bones and memories colliding. He knew that when he died, which was approaching hot and swift, the world would still spin and spin pleasantly.

Ashes, words, and the sky. He couldn’t think of anything more perfect.

 

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...