Art by Joel Priddy (http://www.joelpriddy.com/)
Jimmy posted a writing challenge on the forum yesterday that caught my eye. 500+ word story for an image from the random image thread. 20 minutes + 664 words over coffee…
The Lion had Fallen First
She wouldn’t get up.
No matter how much they’d begged. No matter how much Scarecrow had pulled at her arm in a feeble attempt to make her rise.
She wouldn’t get up.
He stopped and nearly stumbled, bumping a tree and catching hold of it’s thin trunk before the weight of his body could send him tumbling. No! No. He would not cry. Not now.
The lion had fallen first; hard and gracelessly, into the sea of crimson red petals their steps were drowned in. He’d turned then. He should never have turned then, but the lion had been a good companion—a good friend along the brick road, where friends were so very few—and when he’d fallen, the Tin Man couldn’t help but stop and turn.
No, not gasped. Gasps were different, gasps meant danger; this, this was a yawn. He thought for a hard moment that he remembered yawning – that he remembered that feeling of inevitability rising up in the chest and throat and the sudden need to suck in air and stretch limbs that had once been flesh and bone and could still feel the weariness that comes with needing sleep.
That’s right. Yawning brought sleep.
It had been so long since he’d needed sleep. When she’d crumpled in the field and stretched, he’d thought it to be a queer thing for the girl—their girl—to do, before he remembered she was not made of tin and my-goodness-had-they-really-been-walking-that-long…
She yawned again.
What a fool he’d been, standing there, dumbstruck, as the poppies took them. It had been Scarecrow that understood the danger. It had been Scarecrow, without the brain she’d promised to find him for his empty straw head, that knew this was not the sort of place to sleep.
“Dorothy…” her name slipped from tin lips, disappearing into the falling snow.
Somewhere, strangely distant, he heard the sound of wood cringing beneath metal. He gripped the tree trunk tighter.
The snow had come too late. The lion was already dead and Dorothy…
Dorothy would not get up.
“Don’t cry, Tinman,” she had told him. “You’ll only rust and get stuck again, so don’t cry.”
And he didn’t. Not when he’d stumbled back to the brick road and the forest path, clinking and clanking awkwardly in the silence as he searched wordlessly for help, for magic, for something special that had existed only a short time before they’d wandered oh-so-innocently into the sea of scarlet petals and the sleep that did not end. He did not cry as he strayed far into the treeline, away from known places and the silly songs she’d sung to keep them company on their way. He did not, would not cry even here, beside his only friend, the tree.
He wondered if Scarecrow was still with her, their bright and gleaming girl; ever sweet and ever sleeping.
Surely, that was just the snow he felt sliding down the smooth metal of his cheek. My, had his ax always been this heavy? He tried to remember—it was so hard to remember…
His joints protested with the familiar screech and grind of rust against rust when he made to step away from the tree. Oil can. He would need his oil can. Where had it gone now? Ah, wait…that’s right, he’d given it to the girl—his girl.
He felt the joint in his right shoulder lock tight along with his left knee and panic seized him. Nothing to cry about now. Not now that he had Dorothy. She’d be along now any moment to fix him up and they’d sing silly songs and dance down the road and she’d ask the wizard to give him a heart and with that, he’d know for sure this feeling was love.
Something in his chest hurt, just then. No matter.
She’d come for him; he knew.
He’d just have to be patient and wait.
you thought I didn’t really notice. But I did. I wanted to high-five you. Yesterday I had a pair of brothers in my store. One was maybe between 15-17. He was a wrestler at the local high school. Kind of tall, stocky and handsome. He had a younger brother, who was maybe about 10-12 years old. The…