The scent of blood saturated everything. Over the clamor of crashing metal could be heard the far-off screams of dying men. She knew she didn’t have much time left; the wound in her side burned like hellfire, and the edges of her vision were growing darker with each second. Slowly, painfully, she wrenched herself from the pile of bodies she’d slain, limping on the leg that was not pierced by a spear towards the tower. She hoped the guards would have relocated to the battlefield, but knew better. The first she dispatched quickly; the second was alerted by the clatter of armor, the sound of death. He feinted, she struck. His head departed from his shoulders with ease, and she continued on. Her blood slicked the stone steps, running down her legs like the river Styx, slowing her pace. She was too weary of fighting. She leaned heavily against the cold stone wall, listening to the triumphant scream of Death as it claimed victim after victim. She pushed herself on; she could not die here. Not yet. Death would have to wait for her mission to be done. She reached the tower’s peak at last, breaking the lock on the door with an arc of her blade, and stumbled through.

“Helen,” she breathed, as her captive wife rushed to her side. She fell to her knees, struggling to keep her eyes open.

“Gwendolyn,” Helen cried, tears beginning to swell from her eyes. She saw the extent of the damage to her lover’s body, and she was not a fool. “What have you done?”

Gwendolyn sighed, leaning her face into Helen’s bare shoulder, memorizing the scent of her skin. “We have one. You are free once more.” She was so tired…

“Gwen—no—stay with me. Please,” begged Helen as she snapped the spear from the other’s leg and dragged her over to the bed. Gwendolyn knew she should be screaming in pain, but she hardly felt anything anymore. She reached up, brushing Helen’s hair from her eyes.

“I love you, Helen. I will carry your heart to my grave.” Helen kissed her, long and slow, to discourage any more talk. She rested her forehead against Gwendolyn’s blood-soaked own.

“You shall reign in my heart if nowhere else, my queen.”

Gwendolyn smiled as Helen’s tears washed the blood from her face. “Live long, my love. Make our country great again.” Her last breath was swallowed by Helen’s lips.

I’ve been playing around with prompts lately and this is one of my favorites so far. Gotta love lesbian queens.


Finding Light

There was more than darkness when she awoke. A keening loneliness lingered, sinking its crescent claws into her back, forcing her to feel the complete emptiness beside her in the bed. Slowly, she turned to regard the forlorn pillow, the undisturbed sheets. It was the same every morning. Sighing, she threw her own covers back, and thrust the heavy curtains open in her heart. Sunlight poured into her, filling up like a golden reservoir, but it did not warm her as it once had. Her complete happiness, the lightning beacon of her mind, was extinguished, and the apathy that plagued her would now be her lifelong companion. As if in deep water, she prepared for the day.

Dragging herself through her life was even harder than she imagined. The people around her still smiled, still laughed, still loved. She knew that feeling had died in her when he had. He was bright and shining and life itself. He never cowered at a new opportunity; he jumped at everything, often without thinking, but the ecstatic way he threw himself into his work somehow brought him success.

“Anne,” he would murmur, his fingers trailing down her face like an electric breeze, “it will be all right.”

She would believe him. She always believed in him, even when they were thrown out on the streets. Especially then, for she found that love kept even the most fragile people together. “George,” she was counter, tousling his black hair with true affection, “I know.”

She had known that day that everything would be okay. She was certain. She even answered that dreadful phone with cheer, oblivious in her own stupid happiness. That was the last time she smiled.

Of course, social decorum had deemed an emotional mask necessary. “Three years is an awful long mourning period, don’t you think?” Her mother had meant it kindly, but that did not excuse the blunt arrogance of such a statement. But it reminded her that she must at least appear to be recovering, though she knew her condition was terminal. She practiced smiles in the mirror, forced herself to make eye-contact. She could not, however, bring herself to speak to strangers. Any new association was a heartbreak waiting to happen. She was content to coast through the world, a stranger made of silent, sad smiles.

Fate would not tolerate such behavior. On the fourth anniversary of George’s passing, Anne met a woman.

Finding Light

Death framed in Still Life

Legs bent unnatural
Deer-like, spindle-like
Drenched in a moonrise still
The birds sing your praises to the heavens
But the heavens don’t hear
They’ve turned you away and left you broken
A silent shade of pale death porcelain
Cold as the ice in comets
But you will not have a bright tail from which to dance the maypole
You will circle lower lower
The faeries and imps will collect your belongings:
Your flame
Your oceans
Your roses
Your sweet honeydew scent
They will take them and keep them as spoils of war
And even your friends among them will abandon you
To the darkness of endless pressure
Until it makes you a diamond.

Death framed in Still Life

Hilltop Promises

You smell like sweet rose petals kissed with sun and dew
Sometimes when I sit up on the hilltop you come to me on the wind
And I feel unrelenting unrepenting hope fall into my heart
Like unbidden water
First a trickle then a rushing raging waterfall that crashes and smashes and gnashes against my brain in the most sadly expectant way
I begin to smile
Yes, so happy joyous
But then I remember.

Hilltop Promises


the blood crept from her throat

and mingled with the water

and seeped into her hair

like the ground they would lay her in

so cold, so cold

no, she couldn’t bear it

they would not put her in the dead earth

not with all the other ghosts

her brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers

who wandered below the dumb feet of the living

in the great maw of hell their descendants had trapped them in

no, she would not share their fate

not she, who had come so far and been so brave

with the last gasp of her spirit, she let go of the world

the gentle stream pried her lifeblood from the open gash

like a delicate mother

fingers of lilies and kisses of currents caught her body

and carried her from its womb

to the open sea.