Cracking Glass.

Pale. No, that like that of snow, or of a pearl. Like that of a dying man, sickly, weak. He was pale. He shakes and coughs, eyes dark. Dark like the sea at night, danger behind the vial of shadows.

He’s beautiful, but twisted, like a warped painting of something pure. His fingers are long, his palms are smooth, his wrist is covered in silver chains. It’s dark, only a firelight to illuminate him, but he’s staring. His cheekbones are sharp, gaunt with hunger. He’s dying, hunger like a plague.

He’s defiant, I can tell by the set of his shoulders. Broad, strong, wilting with starvation. He’s stubborn and bullheaded and he’s killing himself.

I feed him every day, down into the dungeon, past the halls filled with moaning, crying prisoners, and here. Here is just outside his cell. He doesn’t ever look at me. I feel invisible.

I slide in the tray, the one he always ignores.

I want to count his eyelashes, they fan out on his cheeks so prettily. He’s tall, not like a giant, but tall enough to tower over me. I’m small, insignificant. I could never defy the king like he did. So brave.

“You can stop staring now.” His voice is like stone, rough, cold.

My cheeks flush, heat blossoming over my cheeks, “sorry, my apologies.”

I bow, though he is a prisoner, shackled with gold chains, and feel like a fool. No respectful lady bows to a criminal. I suppose I am no respectful lady.

I turn, head bowed and spirit beaten, but his voice stops me. He’s so quiet I almost miss it.

“Do you want to let me out, darling?” His voice hitches on ‘darling’, weak, not hitting the note of seduction he was aiming for.

I face him, empty handed, key-less, and frown, “What makes you think I’d do such a thing?”

He laughs, then coughs, griping his ribs - I saw some guards beat him a few days ago, kicking his flank. I didn’t have the strength to tell them to stop.

“I can see it in your eyes,” he gestures to my face, long fingers shaking in the air, “you’re tired of being in the shadows.”

I scoff, crossing my arms. He’s right. I am just a shadow. Unheard. Unseen. What’s the point? He’ll just leave, escape, and I’ll either get away with it or be caught, and die. I can’t let a man who personally offend the King go, it would be treason.

He smiles, and that’s new. His teeth are straight, straighter than mine. His whole face moves with his smile, like a butterfly shedding its cocoon.

“You could walk in the light, with me, you could be great.”

Words spoken like a man on death row. Desperate. Untrue. Alluring. I blink hard, finding solace in the darkness, and then face the truth. I have never been loyal to my King, so a little treason won’t hurt me.

I reach beneath the seat across from the cell, pulling out the spare key. A guard told me where it was once, just in case I had to release prisoners because of a fire. That guard was beheaded for feeding the women prisoners too much.

The man watches me, eyes just as dark as they always are, and I try not to shake. The cell door unlocks with a deafening 'chink'.

There's a calm, a stillness in the air, then he's rushing out. He pushes past me, though he is too thin to knock me down. I watch him slump away, his lithe body like a shadow. So pale. He'll die without food.

I glance at the key in my hand, at the power I hold, and grin. Madness overcomes me like a wave overcomes the shore. Crashing down with a resounding pressure. I'll let them all go. He'll be lost in the fray. I'll disappear, too. I'll be free of these prisoners and their leers. I'll be the maddest, bravest of them all.

The King will know my name, so he can utter it as deranged madmen spread like the plague on his Kingdom.

I laugh, but it sounds like cracking glass. I suppose that's what I am. Cracking glass.

Comments 3