this is what I’ve done at my first day of work.

Chris and I have begun a story swap, but rather than create a new piece of fiction every time, we are continuing with the same story, embellishing it back and forth with our own vocabulary voice. This is my re-write of what he posted this week.

They began as silhouettes in rain. Two bodies seen against torches on top of a wet castle wall. The water fell heavily, violently, splashing crystal fire reflections onto everything, beating water into their hair and clothes. One was obviously male, lank and thin, and the other a woman, her red velvet skirts clumsy with wet. From a distance, they seemed mis-matched, obviously of disparate rank. She wears no shoes, but her nobility is apparent. It might have been a kidnapping. He in rags stealing a rich mans daughter for ransom. A plan to lock her into the tower. Closer, it becomes apparent that they are related. They walk heads together and silent, his clothes obviously a pretense.

Earlier was a banquet, a dull affair punctuated by shouting adults and annoying dogs. She had hidden in her room at the first opportunity, praying for her brother to come. They were sorrowful children, raised apart and lonely, her in poverty, he in riches, and though they were now together, they were blossoming into age in a dying kingdom. It was another hour before he arrived from the town, still in his pauper costume, and a storm had come with lightning. They decided to watch from the tower.

She was shivering when they reached the top, both of them soaked. They hid in an alcove away from the merciless rain and the winding staircase like a little waterfall and watched the lightning. His eyes were quicker than hers, catching the stabbing light whenever she did not. The boy began to talk, describing in sharp detail the problems of the kingdom he thought they could fix, explaining what turmoil held the land below, his words dispelling entirely the illusion his appearance presented.

The servants never questioned how close the siblings were, though they crept into each others rooms at night. Heat in the castle was sporadic, and bundling common place. Beds were cold in winter. It was understood. It wasn’t known however, how she felt like fire to him, how he would whisper “I love you.” and his fingers would run along her body, feverish.

One night, fueled by a desire for rapport, they attempted to consummate his passions. It hurt and tore at her like his scream that ripped into the pillow. She had known it would not work, her love for her brother being merely that, not a heated lead craving like his. In a year there would be princes, young men attempting to woo her from her home as a guarantee against war, as a dowry prize, as a beautiful young bride, and one of them she would love, not her brother. It was as predictable as the change of season. They knew each other better than anyone else alive, there were no surprises.

As they walked down the stairs, the lightning finally too far away to see, she slipped and he caught her. His eyes looked into hers with the brilliance of stars, but she did not see. Instead, she merely thanked him and walked out into the rain, “I would have jumped if you hadn’t been there.”

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