Trojan 2

Trojan 2

A Story by Iris Jayne
"

Inspired by Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years". This is like...I don't know, another take on Trojan, which I wrote when I was fifteen. x

"

The silence has been ringing for a while now. The wind has picked up and died, the grasses have swayed a thousand times to its well rehearsed choreography. His armor lies rusty and aged on one side, a broken spear underneath, the only signs of misfortune in an expanse of eerie calm. Still, no sign of life disrupts the scene. Not a peal of laughter, not a whimper of pain, not a single battlecry has been heard since.

 

It is dawn. He gets up and brushes invisible lint from his garments. He watches the sun rise as he has done for ages, his marred soul never tiring of its majesty. He casts a side glance to the weapons he has used once upon a time…he thinks with a strange certainty that today, after a thousand years, he will be found.

 

Heart beats fast…

 

Helen.

 

Her name was Helen. At some point, he thought she had been an essential part of the puzzle. Countless tongues would recount her tale long after her death; frustrated artists would attempt to capture her beauty long after it had escaped the judging glares of the world. Like some faded, worn out portrait, he remembers seeing her face a hundred feet up. He was a mere peasant boy with dust on his feet and his heart on his sleeve, whilst she was…there simply was no way to put it"she was a goddess. Her hair fluttered about her like moonlight made tangible, and she was staring out at the sea with hushed desires painted on her anguished features. It was on this one forgotten afternoon that a clueless child had marvelled at how such fairness could grace the world without a price, not knowing he himself would one day pay it.

 

That day, a hundred or so ships showed up. He observed them advance, sails up in pride and aggression, and noticed how imposing they looked with expressions fit for battle. Looking back now with naught but a knowing heart, he thought on the contrary, the ships dotted the sea like a disease. A plague ready to disperse itself upon the quiet life that was Troy, a fatal sickness drawn in by Paris’s mistake. This realization, as unfortunate as it was, came to him only later"much later than it ought. Back then all he saw was the grandeur. He also vaguely noted the evident fear stemming from the Trojan elders; their whispered, urgent conversations generated euphoria such as never felt by the boy before, and he knew something was wrong. But at nine, he had a curious mind always in search for adventure, thus the looming darkness did not distract his fascination as it should.

 

Behind the boy, a little further away and atop the castle tower, Priam stood his ground, his dimming resolve masked by the unwavering posture to which he held himself as king.

 

The boy reluctantly tore his gaze away from the water vessels and ran back to his home, his heart thudding erratically against his chest in excitement and apprehension. His rash and hasty gait sent rocks and sand flying in all directions, inducing half-hearted scowls from gossiping maidens who lined the streets in a flurry of skirts. Everyone seemed to be in a state of extreme agitation"maids bustling in and out of the huts, fathers scolding children, mothers letting everyone in, butchers closing stores a little earlier than usual. This air of anxiety kept him from stopping to converse, and he treaded the path in silence, the contagious waves of panic gradually growing in spite of himself.

 

 “Ships.” It was the first word he managed to speak, spotting his father a few steps away from their humble abode. “A thousand fleets of them have arrived,” he continued when he had caught his breath.

 

The old man set the firewood down and beckoned the boy forward with his finger.

 

“What is happening?” the boy asked before reaching him, standing before the man he had grown to admire.

 

“The Greeks are here to take her back,” his father explained, and the boy needed not ask who she was. “She was never the prince’s to take home, and now they are here to avenge their wounded pride.”

 

“Those are enemies,” the boy stated, not entirely grasping the situation.

 

“Yes…and I am going to be called upon to fight.” If anything, his father’s calmness rattled the boy’s nerves even more.

 

Silence settled between them as the lad struggled not to ask the queries that came with his father’s remark. When he did open his mouth to speak, his eyes had become too hard for his age. “Will you be back?”

 

A smile devoid of humor broke out of his father’s face as he looked away, lost in thought. “I do not know,” came the reply, and it would haunt the boy forever.

 

Because it was the last conversation he had with him, for the man never returned after he left for battle the following morning.

 

Colors and promises.

How to be brave?

 

The war drastically changed the place he had had as home, replacing what was once a simple life with a troubled fragility that constantly broke from time to time. He hated everything about it, hated that he had to lose his father for it, hated that it seemed to go on for until he died himself.

 

Four years had passed, and between then and now he had learned to cope. He nurtured a cold heart and a deaf ear to the cries of those bereaved, because he knew one day he would be called to brandish a weapon and slay strangers just as his father had been. He was a Trojan born, son of the city, and it was his duty. He owed it to them to not break down every time someone died, however much he wanted to give up. He had to survive in all means there were, and being numb was the only thing that helped.

 

The road he was treading was as rocky as it ever was, and it would have passed for a normal day for Troy, had there been no sounds of wailing coming from random huts heard. News of deaths increased every passing day, and whatever victory, if any, lay ahead, it would not have saved the tormented souls of those who had already suffered great loss.

 

Engrossed as he was on his thoughts, he did not notice a certain someone appearing out of nowhere and crashing onto him.

 

His first instinct was on the offensive. He cursed under his breath"and then stopped short at the sight before him. A girl, barely younger than he was, had fallen to the ground and had not bothered to get up. She looked miserable and exhausted, and something tugged at his heart. Despite an initial reluctance, he held out his hand to help her up.

 

There was something about her…

 

She did not take his aiding hand, and he, wanting to think she was too weak to submit, crouched down and heaved her up, holding her to keep her from falling. He felt her slacken, go briefly quiet, and then cry some more. He was not quite sure what to do, but he had this sudden urge to make her alright. He stood still and waited. For what, he did not know.

 

“I’m so"I’m so sorry. I was…I was…I don’t know. I’m sorry.”

 

“Are you alright?” He asked her. She did not answer, so he proceeded with the next question he wanted answered. “What’s your name?”

             

She told him, rather softly and hesitantly, but he nodded and told her his. He considered her for a moment in awkward silence, wondering if she would deem him insane if he acted out on his current instincts. They stood there in the middle of the street, two young Trojans whose childhoods had been stolen, bound to meet and find solace in each other.

 

His hand suddenly found its way to hers, and in no time they were weaving their way to deeper part of Troy, the boy on the lead and the girl, thank the gods, quietly tagging along. There was a baobab tree on the north border of the city. In one of those times he had tried to seek a moment of escape, he had discovered that the sound of swords and spears clashing couldn’t be heard from there. They perched themselves underneath, sitting side by side, and he wondered how considerably more peaceful he felt with her.

 

“How old are you?” he asked after sometime, when he was sure she wasn’t going to cry again.

 

“Eleven.” She had the most enchanting voice. He wanted to ask her more about herself, but a lump was beginning to form in his throat. He was therefore grateful when she spoke again. “What about you? How old are you?”

 

“Thirteen…why were you crying?” The question was out before he could help it. He observed how untidy they both looked, and for a moment he imagined them for the children they truly were, out in the open discovering the world. The wind made her hair flutter, clearing her face of a few stray strands of her locks. Her eyes were mesmerizing, but they were glimmering with tears, and plagued by the war just like everyone else’s.

 

“I miss my father,” she murmured. He nodded idly, his stomach lurching as the sense of loss gripped him for the thousandth time at the memory of his own family. He nodded idly, averting his gaze to hide the sheer sorrow that crossed his eyes.

 

“He’s out there, too, is he not? He is there…fighting for some mistake he has not done. You cannot imagine how I detest that pretty thing Helen.” He scowled, self-hate surging within him at ever having marvelled at her deceptive beauty, knowing she was the root of all the misfortune that was befalling them. “My father often cursed her when he…well, when he was still alive.”

 

“He died?” She asked, her head snapping up. She sounded genuinely sorry and sad about it.

 

“In the war, yes,” he affirmed bluntly, his own words tasting bitter on his tongue. He gave her a small smile so as not to upset her about it, and went on to say what he had been telling himself to appease his troubled consciousness. “But he died for something worth dying for, so I know he must be content.”

 

He died for home. He died for his family. He died for his mother…but he knew his justifications were never enough.

 

“Tell me how it came to pass.”

 

Surprised by her request, he turned to look at her with his eyebrows furrowed. His heart skipped a beat at her real interest, more so at their proximity. He swallowed once and ignored his foolishness, and in no time he found herself telling her everything.

 

Stories he thought he had forgotten, memories both jovial and awful, ideas he thought would never be heard by another. It felt good to let his barrier down, to let himself feel again. Her attentiveness calmed him, and oddly enough, his passionate speeches made her smile every now and then.

 

Those were the best parts. Her smile. Every time those lips upturned and her eyes sparkled, he felt most pleased, all frets and fears for the future all but forgotten.

 

When the sun was setting and darkness was beginning to creep in, he unwillingly heaved himself up from the ground and offered her his hand for the second time that day.

 

When she asked if she could see him again, he could not help but smile and let his emotions take him to blissful oblivion, all decisions to succumb to coldness be damned to hell. “I will be glad to see you again myself.”

 

How can I love when I’m afraid to fall?

But watching you stand alone…all of my doubt suddenly goes away somehow.

 

Given the circumstances, he should not have allowed himself to fall in too deep. He should not have let himself be captured by her charm, be captivated by her smile, and be dependent on her presence. He should not have let himself be in love with her.

 

But he did anyway.

 

Because in all the years the battle raged on, he was with her. She understood what he was going through just as he did her situation, and they completed each other for all it was worth. It became easier to get along, to live to see the end of the day, to wait for everything to return to the way things had been.

 

On one particular day, when the clanks of death reached even their nook, he held her hand and kissed her temple, whispering the lie he had believed for all his life. “It is all going to be alright.”

 

He was wrong.

 

One step closer…

 

The day came when the wretched war also had to steal away what he had with her. The city had run out of pawns to push forward, and he had personally been called by the generals to battle.

 

The stars twinkled, oblivious to the impending goodbye he hated to utter. He had never abhorred the unfairness of it all as he did that night, and he could do nothing but stand before her and try to etch her features permanently in the confines of his mind.

 

She was indeed the most beautiful thing that had happened in his life.

 

“I love you,” he whispered, wondering how it had taken him this long to finally get that out.

 

“I feel the same way,” she said.

“I will come back, I promise,” he said, and he was beseeching himself as much as he did her. He wanted to believe he would live through it to make a life with this girl…although his father never returned as he did, although the war never ended as much as they wished, although the possibility of it seemed far from existent.

He knew she was as uncertain as he was with it when she smiled, speaking only to repeat what already had been said, as if to emphasize the truth of it. “I love you.”

 

The tree towered above them, strong and proud unlike the many soldiers who had already fallen. The breeze was frosty, but his hand was warm. For the moment they both silently agreed to forget what future might bring, living in the present and drinking in each other’s being. It did not matter if tomorrow saw no end of the war, it did not matter if the people responsible never get proper judgment.

 

He stepped forward and closed the distance between them. Nothing else mattered much anymore. What only did was that they were together at the time being, his lips on hers and his arm around her waist.

 

He loved her with a love worthy to be recounted in generations to come, and if only for the shortlived night before he left to fulfill his duty as a son of Troy, he showed her just how much he did.

 

Time stands still…

 

It was the end. They all had fought bravely and without hesitation, but the fall of Troy had already been long set in stone. The wooden horse was the death of them all. The Greeks had infiltrated the walls, had desecrated the temples and had successfully taken their claim. He was stuck in a nightmare of nothing but fire and doom, but still he weaved his way through the frightened crowd, trying to evade death for as long as he could. He could not tell what still drove him to wield his sword and keep staking hearts"one last stand for his home, perhaps. Yes, let the final seconds of his existence be spent in one last pursuit of revenge. For his home, for his family, for all lives lost…for her. For a feeble attempt to save her from all this, wherever she might be now.

 

Blood infused the air, the smell of it even more suffocating than the smoke. Sweat and dust mixed in a raging canvas of chaos. Playing all about him was a twisted symphony of swords and shields. He longed to smell the grass and earth again, but he knew it was already impossible. He watched his fellows run, and he ran with them with equal urgency, their destinations no longer defined, death catching up however fast they go. No one could save them. Soon, Troy would be nothing but legend.

 

“We are betrayed! It’s over!” Someone was shouting, and he did not stop to look. The moment the enemies had entered, time had stopped for all of them. There was not a single second of it to spare. It was all leading up to the general denouement of the tale, and it was up to him to still somehow find a proper ending for himself amidst the darkness.

 

Beauty in all she is…

 

He saw her standing in the middle of all the commotion, and his heart leapt in joy and shattered into a million pieces at the same time. Her enchanting beauty was like diamond found in rubble, a serene subject dotting a massive battle-worn backdrop. He had thought he would never see her again after that night, and as unfortunate as the circumstances of this next meeting might be, he could not for the life of him help thanking the gods for giving him this gift before death. He let the blade drop with an unheard clang on the ground, the weapon no longer needed.

 

The end was near, he could feel it, but it did not matter.

 

There was only her.

 

I will be brave…

 

He saw her look up; his eyes followed hers as he dragged his weary feet on to where she stood. The sky was lit up and hazy with smoke, a reflection of the inferno they were all born to endure.

 

Out of nowhere, a large block of debris appeared, and his heart stopped. He was tired and all hopes of survival had abandoned him, but it was not her time yet. At least let him taste those lips before they both meet their tragic fate. Please. He willed himself to get there faster, his surroundings a blur of movements as he begged to be hurtled first before the rubble.

 

Reaching her just in time, he wrapped his gashed arms around her petite frame, throwing her out of the way and struggling not to fall.

 

I will not let anything take away what’s standing in front of me…

 

He caught his breath, relief coursing through his veins as the realization that he had stalled the inevitable sunk in. He looked down on her, taking in the way she looked, memorizing her face, getting lost in those eyes.

 

“You came back,” she whispered, her voice barely heard from the noise that was Troy’s demise.

 

He gave her a sad smile and pulled her close. “I keep my promises.”

 

Whether or not it was for the presence of death lurking and ready to snatch any of them soon, he did not have time to care. He crushed her lips with his own, trying not to think of farewell, his heart breaking as he felt her hand find his. He was hers just as she was his, and as Troy razed to the ground, he knew that not even death could take what they both held dear.

 

Every breath, every hour has come to this…

 

There was war but she was peace, and he kept his hold on her until death came in the form of a spear, piercing them both and taking them away from the unfortunate conclusion of a well known forbidden love. He welcomed death with a smile on his blood stained lips and a content gaze at the girl he loved. He knew, as his eyes fluttered close, that it was not yet the end.

 

His heart beat its last like a murmur of goodbye, hoping she had heard.

 

 

I have died everyday waiting for you…

 

Just as the first rays of sun blasts the sky with the same radiance it bedecks it every morning, a lone figure appears on the horizon. She is too distant for him to recognize her, but he knows who she is. The grace to which she walks, her bare feet leaving no prints, her hands brushing the tall grasses that greet her with silent whispers of welcome. Her smile…it is as beautiful as he remembers it. It has been a long time, too long, and his aching heart heals at the sight of her.

 

He mimics her smile as she draws near, knowing the long wait is finally over.

 

And all along I believed I will find you.

Time has brought your heart to me…

 

“I have been waiting for you,” he whispers, his hand flying to caress her cheek, as though unbelieving.

“As I have,” she responds, looking up at him with those piercing eyes, now lit up with the happiness he also felt. “But you are worth the wait…you always have been.”

 

She kissed him, the feel of her lips on his a miracle, her presence the absolution he has been pining for. She is but a forgotten entity in a story infinitely retold, and he a nameless hero whose courage forever stands unheard of. But together, they make their own legend, their love surpassing war and transcending ages.

 

I have loved you for a thousand years…

 

“I love you,” he tells her.

“I always have,” she says. “I never stopped.”

 

They were Trojans.

They are Trojans.

 

And with a whoosh of the wind and a distinct toll of bells echoing from the distant past, they leave this world together. Two souls eternally gone, but at last no longer lost.

 

…I’ll love you for a thousand more.

 


© 2012 Iris Jayne



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Added on June 22, 2012
Last Updated on June 22, 2012

Author

Iris Jayne
Iris Jayne

Candon, Philippines



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A Poem by Iris Jayne