Reliving Old Wounds

Firm in her saddle, his hands intertwined in her long black mane, he rode her. He rode her hard, and drove her, drove her hard. Back arched, he, firm in her saddle, his bow at the ready, taught and poised at the moment of pure tension, prepared himself to let the arrow fly.

And fly it did, then another, and another, each gushing orgasmic through the air.

She bucked and he fell to her side. Scarred chest heaving, he, his head on the soft red cushion, stared at the beige ceiling and he watched the blue sky darken behind a cloud heavy with arrows. Their horses kicked up their own brown cloud thick with dust and dirt and sand, leaving a trail of trodden earth and destruction in their wake. Drawn swords flashed lightning.

Then the storm broke and the arrows rained.

He shuddered. She put her hand on his chest.

Adel took an arrow to the face. Katibah’s horse took three to the shoulder, barrel, and flank. He turned his head and watched the storm soak the field with blood. Horse blood. Warrior blood. Flowers of death sprouting after the flash flood in broad swaths.

Firm in her saddle, he, his broad curved blade at the ready, rode her. He rode her hard, and he drove her. She hit a ditch and flung him into the oncoming enemy.

He kicked and flailed; she ran her fingers through his hair and “shhhed, shhhhed, shhhhed” in his ear.

They descended upon him, kicked him, and when he opened his eyes, he saw a dozen arrows poised to strike. A voice commanded them to stop, to take him, for he was a leader.

They kept him awake most days, most nights. They beat him. They’d let him sleep just a little at a time and when they remembered, they fed him and “for flavor” added dirt to his water. They asked him for intelligence and when he remained silent beat him some more just for good measure.

“Again?” she said, her hands between his legs. “I really want a child.”

A child. A child would rein in those distant eyes always staring a thousand yards beyond things. He mustered a thin smile and said nothing when she, this time, mounted him.

They did to him what he had done to others. He’d seen war before. More than any good man should. Bodies littered with arrows. Gored with spears, horse-trampled bodies. Limbless bodies; many parts of which he’d hewn from his enemy himself. He’d been drenched in blood and tasted blood and when they let him sleep, he still fought, he still killed, and he still drank that which he spilled.

Again, he let his arrow fly and she, her hands on his chest, remained atop him, her eyes in the back of her head, her tongue on her lips.

“Today we are going to cut you,” they said every day. And cut him they did. On the arms, on the legs, on the chest.

“We know who you are,” they said one day. “We know where you are from. Your friend in the next pen sold you out.” They looked at one another, their mouths curled as their moustaches, their smiles blade sharp. “We know who your wife is. We heard she is quite beautiful. I bet she is a screamer.”

They laughed. He leapt, arms outstretched.

He took the one by the neck and squeezed. The others did nothing.

Eyes wide as the moon, his mouth a gaping void, he eked out a single protest and still, the others did nothing.

They let him wrangle one of their own until the body went limp.

Heart pounding, body sweating, he caught his breath, sighed his relief, and when he opened his eyes, saw his wife’s lifeless eyes.

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