My Life is Made Up of Seconds

My Life is Made Up of Seconds

My life is made up of seconds.

Blade smashed against blade and a jolt ran up his arm.

Of blood and sweat.

Blood oozes from a cut on his forehead, hot and sticky. It trickles into his eye, obscuring his vision. Sweat pours down his face, neck and back. It stings his eyes. He tastes the salt on his lips. But he has little time for such frivolity.

Of struggle and suffering.

Battle cries and dying screams fill his ears. He and his opponent step back at the same moment. They circle, dancing, daring each other to act. Then his opponent sweeps forward, thrusting at his abdomen. He deflects the blow with the blade in his right hand and strikes with the blade in his left. A cut, but superficial.

The dance begins again.

Of snap decisions and reflexes.

The battle has been long, and he tires. This foe is more skilled than the others, and fresher. But his movements have grown predictable. Domerin takes a chance, accepting a slice to the right shoulder so he can drive his other blade through the man’s midsection.

He ignores the blood that drips from his blade. The muted gurgle of the enemy soldier as he falls limp to the ground, breathing his last. Domerin has no time for regret.

Another soldier leaps from a nearby rock, screaming outraged revenge. He’s dead before he hits the ground.

Every second is a potential fall from grace.

The sounds of battle have faded. He tries not to notice the bodies strewn across the field as he strides back toward the trees, spattered with crimson fading to muddy brown. Buzzards circle overhead, waiting for their pick of the dead.

He raises his eyes to the banner, blue as the sky on a sunny day, a splash of color in a wash of grey. It’s unfamiliar. Different from the banner under which he fought for most of his life. Its meaning is greater.

Before he can reach it, his men rush forward, filtering through the trees. Most bear at least one cut, many are bloodier than him. “They’re fleeing,” the first reports breathlessly. “Should we pursue?”

Domerin shakes his head. “Let them go. The day is won.”

Or a rise to glory.

A cheer rises before he can speak further. It echoes through the trees, gaining momentum as news spreads among his rag-tag army. The first victory. A day to be remembered. But the tyrant still rules and the road ahead is long.

He raises his voice above the din. “Our priority should be to tend the wounded.”

“That means you, Commander,” chides a soft voice at his side.

He allows himself to be led away, to let urgency slip away. He wills the rush of fire in his blood to subside.

Every second is a memory.

He closes his eyes. Beyond the flashes of battle and the clang of steel against steel, he recalls faces. Smiling faces. Smiles that carried him through dark times. Faces he will never see again.

Yet, he no longer felt lost. He had a place here. The red stains he bore today might one day buy the people of these lands their freedom. A worthwhile endeavor. As they cleaned his cuts, he whispered a silent reminder.

Life is made up of seconds. Mind them one at a time.

Please also check out my awesome writing partner’s version of this prompt!

The lovely Beth Alvarez of Ithilear has done the “committing a crime” prompt.

If you’d like to participate, leave a link to your response in the comments and I’ll feature it next week!

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