R. C. SmithShort Stories and Vignettes

Do not read my works if you are offended by descriptions of sexuality and violence.
(Do not read them just for those descriptions, either.)

Across the River

They wouldn’t come before dawn, which is at 6 am, and so I slept until 4, before I got up. Two hours will suffice, to wash, and to do my hair, shave my armpits and my crotch, apply my makeup, paint my toenails and my fingernails ... I want to look my best, when they come.

They are still on the other side of the river. I know they won’t come before dawn, because my brother had told me. My younger brother, that is. They have their orders, and he knows about them. He knows them, for he has fought them for many weeks, and he will go on fighting them, on this side of the river now.

“We can't take you with us,” he had said to me, yesterday evening, before he left. Of course they couldn't. Not with the chain between my ankles. I can only walk slowly, making small steps, and they have to move fast. My brother — my older brother — has given me this chain, after I had tried to run away from him once too often.

On each ankle there’s a padlock, and only he has the keys. Had the keys — he is dead now, of course. They all are dead, except the few who could flee, and those who still fight.

Where is he now, my dead brother? Into which ditch have they have thrown his naked body, his penis cut off, his eyes gouged out? They do worse things with the women, they say. Well, soon I will know ...

Where are the keys to my padlocks? A moot question, but I wonder. Has he thrown them away long ago, seeing no reason ever to unlock my chain? Are they lying in the same ditch as he is? Or have they found them in his clothes when they captured him? Does their commander have them, and know them for what they are, and is he now looking for the girl they would set free, and when he finds her will he take her to his castle and marry her? I laugh at my own idea.

It is almost dawn now, they will be here soon. I look into the bathroom mirror — yes, my hair, my makeup, they are all right. I put on a simple white dress. With that chain, I cannot put on panties, and so I do not put on a bra either — it would look ridiculous, wouldn’t it? — so, just the dress, one single piece of clothing, easily disposed of. It makes me look innocent and young, I have always liked that dress …

I sit down in the living room. The house is clean, I have cleaned it yesterday, until late in the evening. The bed, in which I have slept for the last time, is made. All there is left to do now is wait. I had thought I might read a book, or listen to some music, but now I just sit and wait, quietly, listening for the sounds of their approach.

Soon they will be here. It will be my first time, you know. My brothers have only used my ass and my mouth — the family honor demanding I stayed a virgin. So, I am a virgin now, still intact.

Be gentle, I will tell them, when they enter the house. Be gentle with your hands and feet, with your bayonets and boots, with your truncheons and your flares, with your flesh, your steel, and your fire.

Be gentle, I will say, and they will laugh.

I can hear them crossing the river now.

(03/2008)

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