Pieces of Peace
by Everett A Warren
July 3, 1988
They talked as they waited for the dawn to filter through the trees. They sat on the bank of the pond, once water, now only dried-up mud and more than slightly polluted. A strange hush had fallen, their voices and the wind the only sounds. Their talk helped soothe the pain each felt within. They compared the symptoms, and in an ironic twist most of their problems were the same, save he was sent from his home, and she was forced to stay in her home. He wondered if his mother would bother looking for him when she calmed down. They both knew her father would be out looking for them when he found her window open.
The stillness of the night was broken by the sounds of engines, motorcycle engines. They both knew her father and friends had arrived. It didn't take long for her father to reach them. He silently wished that she had never told her father of their friendship, and that she had never told her father about him. They both knew that she had no choice but to tell him.
As if several frames in life had been spliced, he found himself standing in the center of the pond of dried mud. Her father faced him. Her father's friends stood behind him and to her father's right. She stood with her mother, crying, held back by several burly bikers.
"I told you before, leave my daughter alone."
No answer. He stood and watched her father. His eyes appeared to look straight through the big man.
"Fuckin' spaced out punk. You like that 'Dungeons and Dragons' bullshit?" her father asked patronizingly. "She said you did. Well I'm going to kill you your way. Friend of mine dug these up, they're real." As if on cue, two long sacks were flung to the ground between the two. Her father retrieved one of the sacks and drew a broad sword from it. "Take the other one."
The young man picked up the sword and withdrew it from the bag. A million miles away, she screamed, hiding her face in her mother's embrace, unwilling to watch what might happen.
"Now we're on your terms."
"My terms have nothing to do with physical strength. We fight on your terms. You know it, I know it, they know it. You could snap me like a twig, why don't you?"
"I'm giving you a chance..."
"A chance to fight with a weapon I never used. That I can barely lift."
Her father charged and swung down. He blocked the strike and stepped back. And on, and on. Only her father struck. Soon, her father grew tired of swinging, his guard lapsed. The young man saw this, and drew several feeble blocks from the older man. With the flat of his blade, he struck her father's body, causing only minor pain and the birth of a black and blue mark. Tired of the game, he swung a distracting strike, swept his foot out, cut her fathers sword to the ground in a cross, and planted his right foot firmly in her father's stomach. Her father, unbalanced, fell, sword flying through the air, to land with a splash and disappear in a patch of wet mud. He raised the sword high above his head as he stood over her father.
As he paused a solitary bolt of lightning shot from the sky, striking the sword and blinding the audience. Sparks of electricity surrounded his body and arced from him. When vision returned he still stood, everyone still stood, all unmoving. He drove the sword down, the strike ending with a sickening thump. People gasped, her mother screamed, she herself could utter no sound.
The instant resistance was met, he let go of the hilt and turned away. The sword was pulled further into the ground, inches from her father's scalp. Even as he walked away, her father trembled, and pieces of the sword flaked away. Dawn rose on the horizon, sunlight hitting the point of impact. A small sapling stood, leaving only shreds of metal as evidence of the sword ever having existed.
He was ten feet away when the sapling had transformed into a towering tree. Blossoms sprouted from the tree, sending sweet fragrances to be carried on the summer breeze. A light rain shower fell from the sky, and a rainbow formed as more sunlight cleansed the shadows. A most majestic eagle flew from somewhere within the upper reaches of the tree and soared downward, finding a perch on his forearm. Songbirds sang a sweet melody as they sprouted from the flowers of the tree. A large black cat leaped from a lower bough and ran to his side, slowing to match his pace. The three left the clearing and entered into the woods. Shadows swallowed them, and they were gone.
Lush green grass replaced the dried mud. The polluted trickle swelled into a clean and fragrant stream that sliced the soft green landscape, where once was a mud field, and before that, a pond. Her mother ran to her father's side, as did all of the bikers. She stood alone.
He sat alone on the large boulder by the edge of the lower pond. Dragonflies danced about, and fish swam below. The cat stretched out and yawned next to him, and the eagle gazed across the pond as it rested on a branch. A smile came to his face, and a peace fell. The fish, the ducks, and even the insects, all noticed the change in the water, and tasted deep of its freshness. As one, they watched the last of the unclean water flow to the waterfall. Even as they did, the foliage adjoining the pond became healthier, as eventually all the lands around the strange tree would grow stronger.
The Characters and Places in this tale bear resemblance to certain people and certain places, although no names will be mentioned. The Events in the tale never took place save in the realm of dream; in fact, the young man never met her father until a long time after the tale had been completed, and was introduced, without conflict, as a friend. It should be noted, regardless, that she never did go to him, and the Place where the tale took place is still quite polluted.
Copyright (c) 1988 Everett A Warren
You can find this story in my collection, Cautionary Fables: Warts & All, available on Amazon.com or by order from your local bookseller.