Storm clouds

Before the Thunder

Storm cloudsIt is not the thunder of the chariots that draws me to the arena on this day. Nor is it the thrill of watching blood spilled in desperation or defiance. It is the doors. The two enormous portals rise up from the sands, judges in bronze robes.

The intent had been simple: a quick, indisputable resolution in the face of an impasse. Behind one door, a lady; behind the other, a tiger. Which door to choose? The accused lives or dies by his own choosing, his fate decided by chance. The left door, or the right. An old story, perhaps, but no less terrible for its age.

Then the war came, and the famine, and the end of days. People are crueler, now. It is not enough to simply kill a man or let him go.

My husband inhales, leans forward. A solitary figure crosses the sand, stops before the bronze doors. The man I love contemplates his choices. The left door, or the right? One door conceals the tiger: death to my lover. The other hides our son, whose very existence is a crime. Even now there are arrows trained on his heart and mine.

It so happens that I know which door is which. My husband made sure of that. I feel his eyes boring into me, hard and cold as the crown he wears. The man I love looks up, desperate, trusting. The choice of doors, this time, is mine. He does not know about the arrows. He only knows that his life is in my hands.

There is a meeting of gazes, an acknowledgement of sorts. I tilt my head, deliberate and reassuring. There is a hush, like the space between the lightning and the thunder. The man I love approaches the left-hand door. Hand on the latch, he still expects salvation. I force myself to watch. It is the price of my betrayal, to see him understand.

Ah, my love, I chose my child. How could I not?

This post was written in response to the Trifecta Writing Challenge  prompt.

You should write a creative response using the given word. You must use the word in your response, and you must use it correctly. Your response can be no fewer than 33 and no more than 333 words. This week’s word is:

thun·der noun \ˈthən-dər\

1: the sound that follows a flash of lightning and is caused by sudden expansion of the air in the path of the electrical discharge
2: a loud utterance or threat
3: bang, rumble <the thunder of big guns>

As a bonus, it also fits the Story Dam prompt for this week. This is my first time participating in Story Dam. The prompt is as follows:

Write fiction or non-fiction, tell us what lies on the other side of the door. Will you take door number two or door number one? What magical wonders are just waiting for you to step through?

18 thoughts on “Before the Thunder

  1. Amanda says:

    This is so well written. It hurts my heart to read it. I love the “hush, like the space between the lightning and the thunder.” Great line. But there were so many great lines in this one!


  2. Cameron says:

    I think one is my favorite thing you’ve put up so far, and that’s saying something. And “judges in bronze robes?” I totally wish I’d written that.


    • Christine says:

      I loved that phrase when I wrote it. Still do, actually. I feel like I write pretty good beginning lines, but I’m not always convinced that the rest of the piece works. I’m glad you liked this one. It was surprisingly difficult to write.


  3. Rachael says:

    How terrible to have to choose! I too would choose my child, but I don’t think I could bear to watch as he opened the door–although it would be the honorable and noble thing to do.


  4. Tamyka Bell says:

    This is spectacular, Christine. You’ve captured just the right amount of description: I can picture it perfectly, yet you’ve allowed room for my imagination. What cruel torture the king is inflicting.


  5. Lance says:

    I didn’t notice the prompts. At all. I love the language and the depth you had the prose carry. This is very well written.

    more please


  6. Tara R. says:

    Beautifully written. I loved this “… judges in bronze robes.” You melded the two prompts together seamlessly. You drew me into the story and I want more.


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