Saturday, May 28, 2016

We Will Dance Again - A Short Story

(To be quite honest, I'm only putting this up to avoid having three "Catholicism Explained" posts in a row. This short story is inspired by and based on the song, "The Ashokan Farewell," and I thought it was vaguely fitting for Memorial Day weekend.)


           
It was evening when she said goodbye to him - a lonely and cloud-swept evening, with the sunset burning a red fire beyond the forest of pines. He was leaving, marching far away where she could not follow. Never had she thought there would come such hard times as these.

            He held her in his arms and let her cry. She needed to cry; tears are good when life's cup is bitter. Closing her eyes to the dying sunlight and burying her face in his chest, she choked forth her farewell.

            "You must come back to me, you know," she said. "I cannot live without you."

            He stroked her back with his strong fingers. "I will come back to you, if I can. But when a man's country calls to him, he must answer its bugle. Do not weep if the price of freedom is my blood."

            "Promise me we will dance again," she pleaded.

            He kissed her forehead. "We will dance again."

            Then the war swept him away on its swift and merciless wings. It swept the whole country away in a terrible torrent of blood, North and South falling like wheat before a gale, until from the red clay of South Carolina to the cornfields of Ohio not a family lived who did not feel its wrath.

            It was evening when she saw him again, again to say farewell - a blood-red evening, with a crimson sun sinking in an angry sky above a blood-soaked battlefield. He was fading away from her, slipping into a far-off world where she could not follow. Often had she dreamed of such heartbreak as this.

            She held him in her arms and did not cry. Tears held no comfort at a moment like this. She wiped the blood from his face with tender fingers, and looked deep into his dying eyes with a breaking heart.

            "You could not come back to me, my darling," she said. "But I have come to you, so all is well."

            He grasped her hand with his weak fingers. "Forgive me, my love, that I cannot stay with you," he whispered. "But a bugle-cry is calling me, sweeter and stronger than that of war. Do not weep, for I fly to freedom - and you will follow me, someday."

            Two sudden tears ran down her face. "Promise me we will dance again."

            A radiant glow came into his eyes. "Yes, my love - we will dance again."

            Then Death swept him away on swift and merciful wings - for death always comes softly to heroes. But it left her alone on the battlefield, holding a corpse in her arms. A tear dropped onto the battered face, and she kissed the lifeless forehead one last time. Then, looking up to where the evening star blessed the sky like a promise of hope, she whispered, with an anguished glory in her voice - "Yes! I know we will dance again."

3 comments:

  1. I love the tune to Ashokan Farewell, haunting yet sweet. I've only heard James Galway's flute version though, so I never knew about the lyrics until I looked them up just now. I think they fit with your story. I like the imagery you put in of the bugles, and the paradox of 'anguished glory'.

    I'm not American, so Memorial Day isn't familiar to me. But I admire how you respect the memory of your fallen soldiers.

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    1. Thanks, Blue! James Galway's version is awesome. The Ashokan Farewell will always remind me of the American Civil War, since the first place I heard it was in a Civil War documentary.

      Memorial Day is a nice holiday. For a lot of Americans (me included, most of the time) I think it just means a long weekend, but there is a solemn side to it, too.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  2. I remember this one! Such a sad ending, and yet hopeful all the same... Never have yet heard that Ashokan Farewell, but I know some of the lyrics, and they are pretty.

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