Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Half Time

He sits down on a piece of rock and rests his weapon on the ground. He takes off his helmet and uses a towel to wipe the sweat from his head, face and nape. Behind him the sun sets into the woods. His compatriot sits on the ground next to him. They share bread and water, but don't speak. The two flag-bearers mend the embroidered sigils in silence. The archers sharpen the tips of their arrows. A swordsman drops his sword as he practices his swing. Some turn because they are close enough to hear the thud. Many do not because of the thick grass.

The general rolls his map open and places wooden figures on it. His lieutenants gather around him. They go over the plan time and time again, but none is bored. All are switched on, ready. The harsh lessons have not been in vain.

The soldier stands up and walks behind an elm tree. He looks north. He thinks of the night before them, and the day after it. He turns back and sees his dinner companion staring in the same direction. They smile with excitement. In the morning they will arrive. Tonight they march. Now they rest. Back in the small clearing, they sit and talk about their families.

The general rolls up his map and signals to his liege. The liege makes his bird-call. The darkness is almost complete. The lieutenants walk the camp, pulling each man up with a firm grip. Before they break hands, they pause and stare at each other,

"To victory." 

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