To Tame the Romantic

By: Tear Moore

Weaving his thick fingers through the course, knotted mane of his horse, Rocinante, Don Quixote mounted its back with nothing but a short neigh of protest from the weary animal.

If any man were to have observed him on this day, his intentions would have seemed unclear, and his reasoning would have been further still lost among the uncut, whipping blades of grass that struggled to envelop both him and the windmill that reflected hundreds of feet ahead in those determined, although foolish, eyes he called his own.

A quick mutter of disapproval managed to escape Sancho's plump lips, but no further attempt was made to stop the aspiring knight from continuing his desire to defeat the imagined evil that sat with such apparent foreboding before him.

The steady wind carried the dull blades of the mill in its continuous circular pattern, and in all actuality reflected the calm atmosphere of a soft, spring day. But the environment quickly dissolved into the corners of Don Quixote's mind faster than his steed could carry him, and was soon replaced with the image of a giant that he believed had taken a part in destroying his home life, but had in doing so also ruined the fraction of his disbanding mind that had held the fragment of his twisted reality intact.

The horse gave impatient clacks of its hooves as if anticipating something entirely frightening, but its master shoved his bent, wooden sword into a lengthy pouch dangling next to the protruding ribs of the stallion, and called for forward procession with no trace of fear in his aging voice.

With a soft nudge of Don Quixote's worn heels into the sides of the animal, his horse began to grudgingly trot its way toward the damaged frame of the windmill.

Perhaps he was initially attracted to the windmill for its apparent likeness to himself. The stones that had once stood firmly to build the contraption now seemed to be weaving with the wind itself, and its gray, darkening image contrasted the pale, blue sky so greatly, that it, too, gave the appearance of having never totally fit into any given location.

Don Quixote rotated his head back to look at Sancho, as if to say, "Well, are you coming?"

He had a small horse himself, so in half obedience, half exhaustion, he quickly rode after him in what looked like an effort to cease his mad actions, and, perhaps, to be there in case the body of the knight needed to be later dragged away from the spinning blades of the mill.

The short legs belonging to Sancho's horse could not attain the same speed the light and long ones that jutted almost erratically from the underside of Rocinante could. For that reason, by the time he had gotten his steed at a firm pace, Don Quixote had already ascended from his own animal and taken to cursing all names he found appropriate to use at the contraption.

Firmly cupping the crooked point of his sword in his sweaty palm, he repeatedly struck its proper handle with all of his remaining strength against the windmill. It was only until his squire flopped uselessly on the ground did he remember that he was in the company of another.

"Sancho, quickly!" he began, taking a brief second to gesture at what he thought were the flailing arms of a giant," you must –"

But whatever it was that Sancho must do, he never was able to follow through. For at that moment, the tip of one of the windmill's blade messily hooked onto the back of his master's vest, pinching the worn, tan material until its owner was hoisted unwillingly into the air.

The permanently bewildered expression plastered on Don Quixote's maturing features twisted into a greater look of complete and utter shock. "Put me down, you vile creature!" he yelled, whilst kicking and punching the warm air that surrounded him.

He had by now reached the peak of the mill's rotation, and as he was steadily swiveled up and over, his clothes and in turn his body quickly slipped from the blade from which they had been attached.

He lurched the bones of his thin spine forward into a curled position during his fall, and by the time he struck the thick layer of dirt fifteen fit below, it could not be denied that his appearance was one of a confused, frightened child.

After only a quick series of short, sputtering coughs did Don Quixote find his squire at his side. He was, however, unable to respond to the repeated, voiced concerns of "my grace!" due to the loud, uncontrollable ringing in his ears.

Just as Sancho had taken to examining his body, Don Quixote lifted his head into a position that would allow him to more freely glare at what had been the cause of his defeat with his dismal, pale blue eyes. His squire immediately advised otherwise, but the hopeful knight only further raised himself unto his aching elbows following each cry to do the exact opposite.

The romanticized version through which Don Quixote viewed the world would not comprehend anything less than what was presented to be truthful, and certainly would not be tamed by the coursing pain a number of broken bones brought upon the dreamer. After all, ideas, objects, and people will forever be what the romantic labels them as. The worst enemy can be a passionate lover, a simple windmill may manifest into a giant, and a mere man -- a knight.

It was with that reasoning that a giant stood a few feet before Don Quixote, and would continue to put both he and his only true friend in danger until ultimately defeated.

"Stand back, my comrade!" he ordered, swiftly changing from his fetal position to one that much more accurately displayed his current, childlike behavior. Compromising the notion of walking, he ventured to crawl upon the knees that now gave an awful crack each time they were put into use. The tender skin surrounding his kneecaps seemed to bulge and further stretch the black fabric of his pants every time they gently touched the ground, but within no more than a minute, Don Quixote had safely wrapped his upper half around the base of the windmill. Sancho was left to watch, motionless, as his master fought the sorrow of his insanity.

"Surrender, giant!" he had shouted so numerous of times that his voice as well as his sword took the brunt of the beating, while the windmill itself suffered very little from the continuous thrashings it took. A weak "die" was his final command he gave before slumping over so that the bushy point of his chin lay resting on the mill's cold stone, his sword lay disregarded on the dirt beside him, and a defeated air loomed over the manner in which his tired shoulders were drooped.

Don Quixote's squire never calculated the amount of time they spent on that field, nor did he ever have the desire to do so. It would not be recounted among the numerous stories he would later share with his family about the interesting misadventures he had had with the knight, for the man he would be forced to narrate in that particular tale would be one full of deep sorrow and contempt.

After being carefully scooped by the portly arms of Sancho, the damp underside of Don Quixote's broken limbs were used as a crutch to gently lift and carry him from the ground on which he had been pleading, crying, and resting for what seemed like years.

"Why won't it die?" was the first thing Don Quixote asked his friend after he had once again found the use of his cracked, damaged mouth. A trail of blood followed his speech, but he seemed to not notice.

Sancho contemplated his answer for a moment, and finally responded once a safe distance from the windmill. "Because dreams," he said, taking one final glance back at the disgusting piece of machinery, "never die."

He did not think it appropriate to point out that the image of the giant was, in fact, a dream, but nevertheless Don Quixote appeared satisfied with the answer, and repeated with the added slur of someone who fought overwhelming tiredness "dreams never die."