BITTER

~ kittykittyhunter ~


The tall trees stood with regimented authority, their silhouettes dark against the sky. At the young man's feet, flowers dusted an expanse of unkempt grass. They were small and grew in wild, vibrant clusters – some were honey-coloured, others verged on lilac, and others still matched the morning's first strand of blue. Everywhere that Benvolio cast his eye he saw nature's beauty moulded into an ornament.

A bitter taste filled his mouth.

He creased his shoulders and sat down, crossing his ankles. He did not care that the soil was still damp. Rain had fallen earlier; its scent drenched the wide space. Though the shower could not purge Verona, it had succeeded in being a washerwoman and scrubbing the grey clouds from the horizon. Once the pouring was done, only emptiness was left behind.

Air filtered into the gaps between his teeth. He began to speak to himself, quietly. "The firmament is dyed with heavy hues. Copper and gold are melted at their height. Yet my weary eyes behold not twilight –" He had glimpsed it at last, glinting through the gaps in the trees, launching its spears of light – "I spy the Sun, shamelessly trailing blood."

The glade was thick with the humming of insects he could not name. Above his head, birds conversed. In another world, such a scene would be a carnival for Queen Mab…

"Mercutio, whose mirth pronounced each hour, was carelessly cut down by straying blade." Benvolio did not wince at the memory. The violent scene had repeated itself behind his eyelids, over and over, until he no longer shook at the picture, whether awake or dreaming. He delivered the sentences monotonously, a private performance for the dead twigs, the fallen leaves. "His tales no more exhaust dull Verona; our laughter shall dwindle and fade away."

Was there anything left to smile for? Was there anyone left to fight for?

"Sweet Romeo, who chased a naïve heart, knew better than we the meaning of love. Now his embrace is for an early grave – a hollow that their battles cannot reach."

It was not raining, but when Benvolio brushed his fingers over his cheeks, he found that his face was wet.

"They trampled the lives of my dearest friends." The words were little more than a murmur. A small laugh escaped from Benvolio's throat. "Let warring factions try to make amends."