As the dry June crept in, I fumbled with watering the plants. My hands are now wrinkled, the remains of my youth are hidden inside like a sacred crest. The sun comes over every morning like an old friend and leaves at dusk with a warm goodbye.
I am hollow of a person where once love resided, I am a slow decaying graveyard corpse. As these metaphors rolled off of my tongue, I can see some resemblance of a past poet in me, overshadowed by my faded memory but still lingering.
Poppy glanced over at the shattered glass and without any hesitation, jumped over the broken frame with all but mere scratches. She was poison in her ways and a destruction when armed; chasing her prey like a hungry predator. She was an assassin you see, a very deadly one. Her fame travelled even to distant lands with complicated names and languages unknown; she was every King’s demise and every other King’s genesis.
She didn’t have a horrible childhood as some of you might presume, her father was a painter without eyes and her mother was a seamstress. A closer inspection will tell you of her passionate interest in forging weapons and yielding one – which appears as a ‘manly’ interest to her nosy neighbors but a unique fascination for her father. “Art enamors every heart that beats but passion follows only those with lust in their souls” a very articulated yet carefully painted wisdom by her father.
One day, a king was passing by her village when the gossip of court flattered his ears; dear old curiosity reined his chariot and out he went in search of this ‘war machine’. His surprise knew no bounds when this child came out of the hut with greasy black hair and dirty laundry on her hip towing behind her mother, unsuspecting of the presence of his highness. His honor held back the urge to ask her for a duel, for what if the gossip were true and indeed she was far stronger than him? His people cannot be ruled by a king who lost to a little girl.
In an interesting turn of events, she was further trained in professional combat and dueling by the King himself. His morality was susceptible to his greed for power and trained her as his personal assassin – a position that was created just for her. She was stealthy in her demeanor, lurked in the shadows and killed without mercy which earned her the title ‘The Crossbow Spirit’.
I faintly remember the sound of turning pages, of a dangling wind-chime and of bristling leaves. It was of golden times that I speak of – I was little when I found a butterfly was stuck between the strings of my wind-chime. I gently placed its broken self on my palm – I could feel it slowly dying and thought of my part in this universe. I was very young, yes but I had a greater perception of the world and its working. I didn’t want the butterfly to die, it was charcoal black and caterpillar green. Later, it was buried beneath my poppy fields, “The soul might like the fresh fragrance of poppy.” my mother said. And I was okay really, that’s what the universe had at play – everyone would die and everyone would come alive.
The princess, Béatrice, distinctly remembers the day she fell in love with Poppy and coincidentally it was one of the worst days for Poppy. It was a hopeless winter for the farmers of her village, as all crops started dying and the land became infertile. Poppy was still a young recruit of the king, barely more than 8 years when her father died of a stroke. In this miserable time, the king – owing to his cruel reputation – pranced at the opportunity to permanently employ Poppy as his personal assassin on command. As the sole breadwinner of her family, this was an offer she couldn’t refuse even if it meant giving up her childhood.
Poppy grew distant and more ruthless, but she sought her refuge in the secluded garden twirling Béa’s hair. They wouldn’t talk at all sometimes but a hint of understanding twinkled in their eyes like some form of private agreement.
Days passed by and Poppy looked forward to spending her late nights with Béa, sharing poetry and court gossip. They both aged like wine of wisdom, clever in their endeavors and superior than most of their educated peers.
As the everyday training grew harder, there were a watchful set of eyes sneaking glances at her Raven. The ‘Raven’ in question was Poppy with her black sword. Poppy lived to her King’s expectations, and trained harder every passing day.
But her young heart betrayed her motives, she found herself looking for the woman in white with the same longing. Both could only meet in the veil of darkness, as their love was frowned upon.
“Little Dandelion,” Poppy would call her, while Bea stroked Poppy’s hair. They both grew up with each other – ever present love couldn’t hold back and blossomed. They would often sneak off at the break of dusk inside their luscious gardens to merrily speak of unwritten poetry. Raven, as she discovered the art of poetry, sulked in her realization that she may never have the life she dreamt. What was once a curiosity, is now a burden with blood on her hands.
“You cannot break your trust from fate, it is but our only motivation in life.” Dandelion whispered.
“I have blood on my hands and their screams echo in my dreams. I carry no identity – just a legend of the ‘Crossbow Spirit’. There is no fate for me, just a half empty graveyard I need to fill.”
“Maybe we are just meant to write our own, maybe it’s just Dandelion and Poppy.” And in this beautiful council, Poppy got some solace.
As the lovers aged to become finer ladies, their bond only grew tenfold. But Poppy had started to lose her morality, her abrupt aggression and lack of compassion was starting to jeopardize their relationship. Years of torment and suffering was finally catching up to her, Poppy may have been physically strong but not strong willed. It was as if the world was taking back what was rightfully theirs.
It was clearer than crystal to the King and Lords of the Royal Court that Béatrice would be the next Crown Queen of their kingdom. But Poppy’s relationship with Béatrice was a growing concern for the King. In his suspicion, the King would assign long journeys spanning for months to keep his daughter and Poppy apart but his failure was prominent as they only grew more close.
The shame of plotting against his own daughter kept him from confronting her so he let them be unbothered, until his ears caught up on the villagers’ take on his daughter’s growing fondness for a woman. The King’s authority was threatened.
In the next few years, people had come to know of their forbidden love – the King was now forced to banish his daughter from his kingdom as they couldn’t have a freak of nature ruling over them. The Princess’s banishment sought a life of struggle for the already suffering couple. Poppy couldn’t risk going back to her previous profession as the protection of a kingdom was taken away from her and she had created many enemies. The two went to live in a cottage in the woods.
It’s a new day, but the sun rises with sympathetic hesitation almost as if it knows the pain I experienced on this very day. I have been but a broken vase, without any flowers. Without my Poppy.
I was in love with a woman, her name was Freda but I called her Poppy. She was an assassin, I was a princess. Our love may have been similar to legends and folklore but it was our very own.
Poppy finally succumbed to her demons and died young. She was like the butterfly, charcoal black and caterpillar green. Stuck on some strings, helpless but non deserving of this fate. I buried her beneath my Poppy fields. And from that day I have looked forward to being united once again. Once again stroking her hair under the moonlight, once again dandelion and poppy, once again Freda and me.
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Omg this is such a good story woahhhh
Amazing story. Really well written. It’s not your typical love story. A good red 🙂
Thanks a lot!
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