The Maiden and the Shepard

Old story, written about two years ago.

A young girl dressed in red stood upon the stage, dancing. She danced alone, absorbed in the music. Her face was painted, but it did nothing to detract from her beauty. Her hair had been bound and woven into two buns atop her head. Her movements were graceful and lithe. The music called to her, and she danced with it. As she demonstrated what the music began with her body, she lost track of everything else around her.

She was a maiden feeding the livestock, tossing around the feed, unaware that danger and sorrow approached. Far away, a sharp-eyed shepherd watched her as she danced; his lips curled up in a smile. They were married a few days later. What followed were nights of bliss and sweetness, and they thought that it would never end.

Then came news of war. Of the enemy coming closer to kill them. This was no enemy that could be placated, but one that would stop at nothing for power. During their parting, the woman gave him a handkerchief that he would carry with him into battle, and then, afraid that he would desert the army for his wife, he turned and ran away from her, disappearing into the crowd.

The man fought, screaming with all his might, as he fought the enemy. An arrow pierced his arm, but he fought on, knowing that to give up would mean the murder and rape on his wife.

The woman stood near a lake under a full moon. In her arms she held a scarf, the scarf that he had given to her, made by his mother when he was no more than a child. The wind blew, and she looked up, fearful of what portended. The lake rippled as she stood staring up to the sky.

The man lay on his back, defeated for now. The handkerchief got free partially from his neck. He smelt his own sweat and blood, but was reminded of her, the sweet nights they had together.

He loosened the handkerchief, held it to his nose, using the memories of his wife to encourage himself, unaware that far away, she was doing the exact same thing.

The handkerchief flew away from his hand as the enemy came upon him. The lake rippled and splashed as something heavy fell into it. Somewhere, a blue scarf and a pink handkerchief will meet.