Luke: The Essence of Time

I stared absently into the clouds above, shattered pieces of whitish grey scattered across the sky. Rays of gold reached through the remnants of the passing shower, sunbeams cascading over the dips and hillsides of the land swept out before us. The horses slopped through the dampened roadway, all the hooves harmonizing in a tune of suck, slap, suck slap's. All around the leaves and pastures throbbed an electric green, everything so alive, the smell of moist earth, warm summer rain drifting on a breath of breeze.

Sighing, I shifted through my saddle, hoping the gentle gusts would be enough to dry us off soon. We were all uncomfortable - as we had refused to let up our march through the stray shower, each one of us was soaked to the bone, hair sticking to our foreheads and making me, at least, feel like a soft, soppy mass. We looked a sad parade of men; silent, solemn, wet.  I peeled the sticky shirt sleeve from my arm, rolling it up a little more, wishing I could have just a moment to change into the clean clothes in my pack...but then again, my pack was wet too.

I looked ahead, to my father riding with the other officers and soldiers. He was quiet, composed, chatting amiably with the other men. He was on of the oldest men in our rescue party, strands of grey hair catching the shafts of sun.  If anything at all, he was a good man. He had always managed to keep us comfortable and safe, happy and fed, even through rough times. Upon learning of his daughter’s dangerous venture, he seemed disappointed, as if it was his own fault she was in such a circumstance.

Even as much as I wanted to blame Jon, get my hands on him and give him a piece of my mind, I wondered why Katrina did it - why she went along with it. Was she so illogical, so insensible? She was always a little adventurous, rambling around with a bunch of brothers, but she had seemed to have a level-head. Maybe she thought she could help in the war effort somehow. But her assistance was by means of looking after the farm, not by galloping off on some crazy adventure.

I wondered if she knew about Ed. Agony struck me like a lightning bolt whenever I thought of his older brother, remembering the face, the smile, memories of growing up...it was just best to shove everything aside. I thought of Father again - his eldest son, gone. He had been so strong, unwavering, the embrace that comforted me as I shed tears for Ed. There was no doubt he had wept in the shadows, when no one was watching, when he was not supporting me. I felt a pang of guilt.

“Hey, Luke,” Lewis’ voice shook me from my thoughts. I was thankful for his interruption. “You all right?”

It was obvious he had been watching for me, his sharp eyes focused intently on me. “Yeah, fine,” I mumbled, shaking my messy mop of hair. I paused, feeling the horse moving under me, feeling an awkward jog in the little mare’s step. I groaned and pulled her up. I was anxious, time was of the essence, and didn’t want to waste a moment. Swinging off of her, I landed with a wet thud, splattering mud on my boots and pants. I moved underneath her, taking her leg gently in my arms and feeling her ankles, looking down to her hoof. The problem was obvious. A bad case of shoeing, the iron hanging only by a few remaining nails.

“What’s the problem back there?” The men up ahead had paused as well, Sebastian looking over in my direction.

“Shoe’s fallin off, Sir,” I answered curtly, not bothering to straighten as I set the hoof back down to give my arms a break.

Sebastian looked as exasperated as I was, gazing toward the sun with shaded eyes. The day seemed to be just slipping away. “Alright, take it off if you can and let’s get moving. She’ll have to make-do until the next village. Be quick, Elliot, not much time to spare.”

The End

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