The Tears of Memory

There was a time.

But then there usually is… or was.

As you get older, you find that more and more the new days resemble the old days. Or, at least, I think so. Sometimes it is hard to know if I’m remembering something, or if this is another new day.

Most of the time, I hope it is a memory. A day I have already lived through and survived.

The only way I know it isn’t a memory is by the aches and pains that age and a soldier’s life leave on the body. The scars and old wounds throb and pull the skin and muscle tight.

I am stiff in the mornings, and not in that old way that used to make my woman smile. That, these days, is feeling its age too. These days it takes someone young, with enthusiasm and energy to bring it back to life. And at my age and with a face and body scarred like mine, that means someone who is paid.

Not that I mind paying, not these days.

At least that way I get some new memories to heap up on top of the old ones. I’d much rather remember some young woman being nice to me – even if only for money – than have to remember those battles I survived. Especially those I only just survived.

Lying on the frozen ground watching a spreading pool of your own blood, first melting the snow and then freezing itself does tend to haunt the mind.

I was the only one who survived that day, and then only just. The wolves were gathering, sniffing closer, feeding off the dead and wondering if I’d put up a fight as they edged closer to me.

The others arrived just as the leading wolves were sniffing closer to me. The spearmen ran down into the valley, scattering the pack to hide and howl in the woods until the soldiers carried me away.

It was a young woman who saved me then. One of those religious ones from the Southlands. Well, she was one of the religious ones once. When she healed me, she was a slave to some Northern Lord who’s name I cannot remember.

I only remember how he died, with an arrow in the eye and a sword wound that left his manhood useless. I thought maybe the Gods do have a sense of humour after all. It seemed a just way to die. Afterwards, that slave – Yolda was her name, I think – told me what he’d done to her before he discovered her healing skills. She told me that at one time she had thought of using those skills to kill the Lord in the most painful way she knew. Some slow poison made from herbs that grew inside his Tower lands.

I bought her from him. It took every gold coin I had, but I rode away with her by my side.

I took her back to the border, back to the Southlands. There was one of those religious buildings of theirs, with one of those big pointed towers, on the horizon.

‘Why have you brought me here?’ There were tears of memory in her eyes as she saw her homeland again.

‘To set you free,’ I said. Then I turned and rode away, alone.

Sometimes remembering is good.

Published by David Hadley

A Bloke. Occasionally points at ducks.

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