The First to Last Breath

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man's life from start to finish (trying out a new style)

Submitted: December 01, 2007

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Submitted: December 01, 2007

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The First to Last Breath
© Copyright Michael Sherlock 2007 all rights reserved
By Michael Sherlock
 
 
 
 
The years of innocence

 Within the sleepy medieval village of home, another innocent child is born. This child’s life is nothing but a clean slate for future joy and pain. A mother father may look on this child with a living eye and a smile, unaware of what could happen in the future.
 As the slow months pass this child learns the ways of the world. Slowly it learns how it can support it’s own weight upon its legs, and words begin to flutter from his tender lips. Each step towards his future brings more smiles and praise from his parents. The grins and laugh of childhood know nothing of the coming path of life.
 The simple pleasures such as rolling a piece of fruit endless outside of the small thatched cottage can keep him amused for hours…not a care touching this child’s innocent mind. Other children come and go and friends are made…each day the child can smile at the rising sun at the thought of another day of play.
 
 
 
The first taste of grief
 
 The first day at the small schoolhouse proves an exciting experience and the boy is now eager to learn more and make new friends. Skipping home to his cottage brings only more joy as the warm sights and smells of the sleepy village sweep over him effortlessly. Today is the child’s birthday and he looks forward to a day of celebration and fun with his parents.
 This child’s skin was soft and clean as a result of the hugs and love from his loving family. With the love of his mother and father behind him, this child was safe. Once again the small door opened and the child grins eagerly, awaiting his birthday surprise.
 The room was empty.
 The house was empty.
 Another birthday in the empty house follows.
 Another birthday after that.
 
 
 
 
Independence.
 
 This time the forlorn boy is taller, his stature has changed and his coming of age nears. His birthday comes around again and this time he knows his parents wont be there to surprise him. Surviving on the small amount of money he can make is hard…living in squalor takes the comfort and innocents from his eyes; the softness of skin is lost to the hardships of labour. A young girl with fair ginger hair now visits him regularly, bringing him the food he can’t afford. The young boy can only repay her with a shy kiss on the cheek.
 Even the young girl cannot deny his change; the pleasantries of youth were lost to him early, his eyes and become dark and cold. Today she arrives with a cake and a smile. This is the first birthday since that fateful day he has not spent alone.
 
 
 
The fires of youth burning bright
 
 The joys of comfort and company return to this teenage boy, the darkness in his eyes faded to reveal a glowing blue sheen below his dark fringe of long hair. This young man knows his destiny, he wants to work in the military and earn his money in battle…no skill necessary. His lovers flowing ginger hair still bounces with her joy when she sees him smile with anticipation.
 Unknowing to the girl…a child waits. Even when she comes to know, will the boy still be there standing by her side. Yet another birthday arrives, and the cake still sits in her hands, her grinning face beaming over the top. A warm embrace and kiss salves the former heartache of a world apart.
 
 
 
The Sword’s kiss
 
 Here he now stood…his birthday again, this time people congratulated a grown man. The hardship of abandonment was absent from memory, it’s place taken by a steel helmet. Armour hung from his body and a sword from his belt.
 Civil war had torn his country in two, and today on his birthday they would pillage his hometown. The man tried to cling to his ignorance to his mission; the details would be the tool of his demise.
 Swinging his sword was the soul aspect of his life now, not a single thought of remorse would linger from cutting another. He has not seen his wife in years; he prayed desperately she no longer resided in their old home.
 Here it was…the arrival. His final return to the village was not as he envisioned, smouldering ash and screaming replaced the warm and comforting scents. Juddering anger welled up in his heart as he became frozen at the sight of the schoolhouse falling, silence the screams of children. The deceased children would have been the offspring of his first friends…innocence was lost to the edge of a sword.
 He breathed a heavy sigh to clear his head and prepare for battle with the town guard. Sharply, he drew his sword and joined the fray, slicing open the town guard as normal. This time, he recognised faces…the pained faces of his former friends groaned in defeat as they fell dead to the floor.
 His dream…the perfect life he has envisioned was shattering before his eyes…and before long he was sprinting towards his cottage. Each pound of his metal boots brought another tear of fear to his eyes.
 When he reached his cottage…his eyesight blurred at the glowing orange heat. From inside he could hear the screams of his wife…and a child. The roars of anger consumed him as his realisation of fatherhood hit him like an arrow.
 He was part of this…part of this murder, this was his dream. His sword was thrown to the ground as he ran towards the burning doorway. When he reached it he found the heat to be too intense, his amour felt the kiss of white heat.
 With haste, he tore the upper half of his armour off and tried to enter the flames.
 
It was too late…the cottage collapsed in a cloud of dust and flame.
 
 Once again the sword handle rested in his palm…this time accompanied by a mad glare in the wielders eyes. Before civilisation could reach his mind, he was cutting through ranks of his own men. Calls of anger and retribution boomed from his throat.
 
 
 
The valour of youth forgotten
 
 This birthday was spent alone again. Thirty years ago he escaped his betrayal with no legs or honour. Regret had plagued his mind every coming night for thirty years as he lay sleeping on a chapel pew. The loving embrace of his parents was too distant to be felt…even the ginger hair of his wife flowing freely through his fingertips became a forgotten memory. Only pain and regret filled the gaps in his wrinkled skin and sunken eyes.
 Eventually with a final sigh of relief…life ended. The same child who made his first friends in his first day of school…the same man that found a lover, and the same man who killed her.
 
 
 
 
 


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