art by Agata Maciagowska
The Cries of the Dead and Dying
by Sarah Goslee
I never really loved her.
I never loved her, but from the first moment I saw her I coveted her, desired her in the way the ivy desires the castle wall, or the oyster the pearl.
I first saw her coming down the hill. Dust coated her bare feet and the tattered hem of her torn linen dress, but the sun lit her hair like aspen leaves in the fall.
She walked down the hill as if she were floating, her feet hidden by the drape of indigo-dyed silk, her hair so dark it swallowed the sunlight.
The drape of cloak concealed her form, forest green fabric peeking through where the unbound locks of her chestnut hair parted and merged on their fall to her ankles. Sun-kissed red and gold glinted among the brown.
I have been here so long that I cannot recall the color of her hair, her skin, whether she smelled of lilac or ashes. What I do remember is that I wanted her from the moment she crested the hill, hauling a bucket, her arms full of flowers, her hands hanging empty..
A moment before I'd been full of the hunt, eager to set off in search of a stag worthy of my prowess. Now I stood entranced, hounds forgotten, silent and still as she followed the path down toward me. My crossbow dangled from my hand, then fell unnoticed.
I spurred my mare so that she burst into a startled canter. I scooped up the girl entire, leaving only her bare footprints and spilled bucket, one dainty slipper and a scatter of flowers, no trace at all.