It’s Chatterbox again, but this time the topic is ‘Criticism’. Once again I really enjoyed this exercise and present, without further adieu … Robert, of The Many Trials of a Blacksmith …
He lay on his back, wrapped up in his thin cloak.
The sound of the waves, the scent of the sea, and the sight of the stars filled his senses, and yet instead of bathing in the wonder of a still and cloudless night, his mind pressed in upon him.
Phantom shouts and shadowed sights filled his ears and eyes.
He heard the overseer once more: “Move faster!”
He saw the mocking look. “Good enough” – a heartbeat of hope, crushed with the next words – “for a cripple.”
Memories – how they surged.
A log fell in the fire. Sparks flew high in the air.
Leon snored and Garth mumbled in his sleep.
Memories – how they drew him back to years long past.
“We are weak.” It was George this time, appearing in front of him in the mist of time; that mouth curled in its ever scornful way. “No – it is not we … it is you.”
He remembered the twinge of pain those words had given him. Remembered the calm reply he had forced out of lips which longed to snarl – to bite back that it was the right way – the only way, you fool!
“Knave!” ‘twas Master Hughes, regarding him – his tardy apprentice – with narrowed eyes. “I looked for you this morn. Where have you been – loitering? Lazy cur.”
I was saving a child; giving a widow the life of her son, he ached to explain. But the words were never spoken – secrecy was more important than speech.
And then he remembered his youth; the farm, the dawn which came without fail and the brother who had long since past.
He remembered the quick look at the field – ploughed underneath a hot sun with little water to quench his thirst – “‘Bit wonky, Bert.”
A sharp breath and he was back; feeling the dampness of the sand beneath his cloak, hearing the crackle of the fire and the roll of the wave.
And then another memory rose into his mind – the crinkle of a page as he turned it, the old ink forming letters which meant so much: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
He rested in the words – floated in their peace; slept in their calm. The memories dispelled as if they were a suffocating mist and the words a burning sun.
In the morning – when Garth greeted him with a grunt and Leon asked how he slept, he would reply simply: