November 21, 2009

In Which Oswald Is Resigned to a Partial Valediction

January 31, 1164

It was her birthday. Had she lived, she would have been twenty-nine years old.

But alas, she had not, and was not. She would be forever ingrained in Oswald's heart and memory as a woman of twenty-eight. Never would he see a wrinkle upon her face... never would he see a strand of silver in her blond hair...

Oswald had often heard men expressing their reservations about their wives and children advancing in age, but he couldn't claim to understand them. It seemed to him that such fools had never considered that the alternative to growing old was dying young.

Twenty-eight was young--very young. He tried to think back to when he himself had been twenty-eight, nine years earlier. He and Athalia had been married for a mere four and a half years. Only two of their seven children had been born. Hell, Roderick had still been in Dovia at the time! Just thinking about it made thirty-seven suddenly feel a creaking old age.

And yet, those nine years had not been long enough. Only three of his children would grow to remember their mother; his youngest two would never even know her at all. They would run to his chamber when roused from their nightmares, throw their faces into his shoulder and soak him with their tears, whispering the command of "Tell me about her". Then, he himself would begin to cry.

But Athalia would not have wanted this. She would have wanted for him and the children to be smiling, happy--at least, as happy as they could be. He was not through with his mourning, but Athalia would not have wanted it to stretch to the end of his life. There had been no words for the love that they had shared, but in the end, they had both been practical, down-to-earth people. She would hold his heart, but her ghost would not consume him; after a time, he would have to pick up where he had left off, go about his life as best he could, pull through for his children and his people. He would probably have to marry again, but it would be a match of convenience, and nothing more; his children would need a mother, and eventually, his people would need a queen, but Oswald himself would not need a love.

He already had one.

Bowing his head, he poured himself a goblet of wine and gently swished it about. He held the glass to his nose and sniffed, then slowly pushed it forward as though toasting some imagined company.

"Happy birthday, my love," he whispered. "I wish you could be here to see it."



Dinuriel said...

Sorry about the short post :(

Phoenix said...

Oh man! :( That's sad! *sigh*

Short, but fitting Van!

Dinuriel said...

Thanks Phoenix :)

Next update will be longer, I promise.

Gayl said...

Today must be my day for reading pieces that make me weep. There were so many lines in here that pulled that emotion from me. Very touching and definitely not so short that it didn't pack a punch.

If that makes sense...

Dinuriel said...

Thanks, Gayl. Sorry about that :(

S.B. said...

Stunning. The writing catches you by the throat and will not let go. The line "Oswald himself would not need a love. He already had one." ...broke my heart.

and that shot of him sitting alone, the light on the gleaming red wine - wonderful and heartbreaking.

This did not need to be any longer. Long is overrated. This was perfect, and drew tears from me. Incredible work.

Dinuriel said...

Thanks S.B. :)

Penelope said...

Ack, not a man who has much hope for the future. He'll move on though right? Right???

I'm with Beth about chapter length. A chapter should only be as long as it needs to be and unless there was some other important action that we're not getting here, the length works.

Dinuriel said...

Possibly. He's only thirty-seven, so it's not like he's just going to sit back and wait to die. I guess we'll see.

Yeah, there wasn't anything too important that I could have added here. Just a little snippet of the Dovian Royal Family now that the Crown Princess has been dead for a few months, since the situation does have the potential to affect Naroni.