Life is Fickle

    She hadn’t meant to do it. She had been trying to help. How was she to know they wouldn’t be grateful? Ducking under a tree branch she tripped on a root. Crashing into a boulder she slid a few feet. Bleeding and bruised, she got up and stumbled along, trying to stay away from the pack of men chasing her.

    She had been running for days. Tired, cold and in pain she came upon the great river. Pausing she glanced at the landscape around her. Cliffs rose high to her left, they were imposing even in late spring. To her right was the top of a cascading waterfall. Glorious to behold until one looked at the ravenous rocks at the base. In front of the battered woman were the beginnings of a valley that could take her away from her hunters.

    Too tired to think she turned and went to her left, and the cliffs. They’re numerous caves in them. She needed to recollect her thoughts before continuing her flight. Crawling into the small cave she looked around at her new surroundings. A pile of dead, dry leaves near the back wall, some bits of wood along the side and rocks all over. Settling on the leaves she took out her knife and hacked off her long hair and placed it on the wood. Rooting around she found the proper instruments and managed to create a small fire. Lying down on the leaves she stared at her pitiful source of heat and thought about the events that had driven her to this state.

    She had been the beloved of her town for as long as she could recall. Her father was a prominent businessman; her mother was the local representative to the Council. As an only child she had been given everything she could possibly want. Even while famine ranged her food levels never varied.

    While animals and people died in the streets she and her friends threw parties with ornate piles of food they barely touched. After years of famine poverty struck the town hard, but she was always dressed in the latest rage of the cities while others not dead or dying from lack of food were wasting away, their rags barely hanging from their bony frames.

    Always protected by guards her parents supplied she wasn’t aloud to go down streets that hadn’t been “prepared” for her. On a dare she claimed illness and snuck out of the house. She was going to visit the forbidden streets. It was going to be a grand adventure to tell her friends at their next party.

    Stepping around a gaudy storefront she carefully walked down the alley until she could see the next street, the first of the forbidden streets, and nearly collapsed from the shock. People were digging in their ravaged gardens for anything semi-edible. Children were actively stealing form the dead and dying.

    After a few moments she stepped hesitantly forward, pulling her cloak tighter around her she made her way down the street. Wandering down numerous streets she heard a commotion. Looking around she located a small hovel on the edge of the city, flush against the woods. Inching closer her eyes open wide, the man was strapping on his armor and the woman had just finished pulling her dress on her and was in a heated argument over her payment. A devilish grin he pulled out a huge hunk of meat and a long loaf of bread. A grin spread across the prostitute’s face at the site of enough food to feed her family for a week, she stumbled forward, reaching for the food. With a laugh the man tossed the meat in to the dry dirt and smacked the woman with the dry hunk of bread. In her spot behind the building the “beloved” woman of the town gasped. Convinced the man was going to kill the other woman. Rushing forward she rammed into him and he went stumbling backwards. Falling he smacked his head on a sharp stone. As his lifeblood rushed from the wound, the other woman quickly snatched up the dirt-covered meat and bread before screaming for the guards to get the woman who had killed her customer.

    Panicked the young woman, daughter of the prominent business man and Council position holding mother, attempted to explain to the prostitute but the other woman didn’t care. Seeing the guards and the hangman coming, the young woman took off. Running as fast as she could.

    She quickly lost her coat to the thick brambles. Her handcrafted shoes were torn to shreds when she traversed over rocks. But she did not stop. She now remembered her mother’s heated debates about the Eye law: “what was done to one shall be done to another until the famine was gone.” Once a week the argument would be re-spoken, everyone knew their parts. Someone would broach the topic about how good it was, another would agree and then her mother and her friends would start in on how bad of a law it was. And then the real fighting would start. But she hadn’t cared, she wasn’t affected why should she learn about something that didn’t affect her?

    She was wrenched from her reverie by callous hands pulling her from the cave. Struggling she was yanked into the light by the guards who had been chasing her. A look of panic washed her face followed by cold fear…she was going to die. All because she had thought she was helping the other woman. She was dragged down the main path back to town. Farmers who saw them along the way jeered at the guards, but were seen hastily packing up to hurry into town. The prostitute she had “saved” gave her an evil grin when she was pulled onto the hangman’s platform. As the noose slipped over her neck she had a fleeting thought: if she had thought to think before reacting this may not be happening. But the life of one of the pampered did not leave room for thinking only indulging.

    Her last thought as the trapdoor opened was about life in general: it was fickle, nothing more, nothing less. It existed only to entertain itself, those who went through it managed as best they could.

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