Monday, February 8, 2016

2016 Their First and Last Dance by Yelexi Pena

First Place in Prose wins $300

         And so they danced, with nothing but the sound of their hearts and the crunching grass beneath their feet to guide them. The two moved as one, time around them fading into non-existence. The moons shining down upon them with their melancholy glow. Hair as black as ink, the ravenette leaned heavily against his partner as his body grew weaker and weaker with each step. Blood as black as his hair soaked through his shirt, but still they danced on. Hair as white as fresh snow, the dark elf held his best friend, his only friend, close to hold the other up in an increasingly failing attempt at finishing their dance.

         Back and forth they moved, their feet turning in synch, their bodies moving in circles around the forest clearing when finally, with his blood loss too great, the ravenette stumbled sideways and his friend moved with him to slow his descent to the ground. It was when he was set down, the upper half of his body caged protectively in his best friends’ arms, that a weak laugh made its way passed his lips. The dark elf gave him a look filled with agonizing despair and utter disbelief. “How in all the worlds do you find anything about this situation laughable?” he asked, voice breaking half way through. He stared down into his friends duel colored eyes searching for something, though he wasn’t entirely sure as to what.

         The snow haired elf wanted to scream at the sky and moons, he wanted to scream out his rage and frustrations because this wasn’t fair. He wanted to cry, wanted to cry out all the pain until he was nothing but numb and then cry even harder, but all he could do was uselessly hold on to his friends dying body as he bled out from his stomach because he knew that they were too far from anyone who could help, too far from anyone who could fix this. His friend just laughed again before answering, “All our lives people kept telling us that we were gonna be the death of each other. I’d just never thought that they would be right in such a literal way.” His tone was joking and voice raspy, but the elf couldn’t stop himself from flinching back as if the words had been accusing and screamed at him. Immediately his shirt collar was being grabbed and he was pulled down so the ravenette could glare at him effectively, “Don’t you do that. Keyzin don’t you dare blame yourself for this. I don’t.” Keyzin could do nothing but bite his lip, his voice failing him. Instead he took hold of the hand grasping his collar and held it as if it were his own life line. It might as well have been.

         Tears burned at the elves lightning blue eyes and his breath kept getting caught in his throat but he managed to hold back. If his best friend was dying with that stupid self-assured grin of his then Keyzin had no right to cry. Not now, no matter how much he wanted to. He had to at least pretend to be brave about this. He’d give himself the luxury of crying later, alone, and as loud as he possibly could.

         Minutes passed silently between them as the moons slowly passed overhead, lighting the clearing in a soft glow. The ravenette broke the silence. “Hey, Key. I… need you to promise me something. A few somethings, actually,” he grunted out, shifting his position. Keyzin just nodded silently, not trusting the strength of his voice. “Right now, you have to swear to me. Swear to me that after I pass over the next time I see your face is when you pass as an old and wrinkled man.” Keyzin closed his eyes shaking his head pathetically, and whimpered out a broken voiced response, “You can’t ask me that, Nal. Without you everything’s just gonna get harder and I’m not strong enough to handle it on my own, I’m not. Without you I wouldn’t be here now; Nal don’t make me promise.” But Nal just smiled weakly and Keyzin knew he’d lost the argument before it begun. Tears burning hotter in his eyes and vision swimming he choked out the words, “I swear”. He didn’t know how he was going to be able to keep moving forward in his life without his best friend by his side, but he had to find a way somehow. His word was his own law.

         Nal’s smile changed. His eyes glittered with unshed tears and his breathing caught in his throat. He couldn’t keep this up. He brought their laced hands over his face in an attempt to hide before giving his final request, his voice filled with fear. “Just stay with me, please? I don’t wanna be alone and it hurts and I’m so s-scared and dammit all I’m not ready to die.” And they broke. Keyzin couldn’t hold his tears back any longer and they fell as he pulled his best friend closer, crying silently. Clutching Keyzin’s hand painfully, Nals own tears slid down his face heavy sobs painfully ripped their way passed his throat.

         They stayed like that; time around them moving forward once again and soon Nal’s sobs died down into silence. His body limp and breathing nonexistent but Keyzin refused to open his eyes, refused to accept this reality. He thought, maybe, if he wished hard enough, if he didn’t accept it, then it wouldn’t be real. But Nal’s body began to grow cold in his arms and the moons began to set, only to be replaced by the dawning sun. It was when the suns first rays of light touched his dark skin that he opened his eyes and was forced to look down at his best friends’ corpse.

         Gripping Nal’s body impossibly tighter he lay his head on his still chest, gasping for breath as his world sank into silence. And then, finally, he screamed.

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