We went up the hill to welcome the dawn, hoping to be purified by the light, the sky’s newborn clouds, and the wind. Rain would have been sweetness itself, but it would not rain. Better still, had a dam burst somewhere miles away and brought a river roaring and chundering to us at first light, to wash us away, and our homes and the streets and signs, the cattle, the graves, the bodies left to be buried, furrows, our crops, so that no trace of us was left in this land, and the wet mud dried without a sunken footstep or plowed lane, that might have done.
It was a beautiful sunrise, but it was only a sunrise. As before, it acknowledged no lesser sin on us, and we held no power to staunch its light. We remained standing in the cold morning, breathing harder than we had to; all the fighting was done, all the praying, all the sacrifices.
We were still scarred, still host to the weeping lesions, still bloody and still sick and still sore-riddled. And the land behind us was still. The death sat on it, and we, on the hill, at long last, our rituals exhausted, sat in the dirt, and dried our pus under the naked sky. Our skins cracked and torn hands held tattered faces. And the rats…the rats fled the wheelbarrows and stables like a black river, following the sun’s long fingers down the roads to the neighboring villages, to the life unblemished by spittle and curdled ooze, leaping over and under and through our barricades, like the shadow of a great tide soon to sweep over the Earth.
Who remembers that low and unfurling sound, as had never been heard in all the lands where mortals pray, in anguish the depths no mortal prayer had stooped to, the roar of a great becoming, of a world rent of its last legend, and a single man, mourned by thousands of men. No women mourned Achilles in his poisoned heap. At the bottom of the scaling ladder, where he fell, hours passed before his swift-footed form was counted amiss. And hours more, till twilight’s fading shadows, till he was discovered. No woman mourned Achilles. It was the men, the thousand thousand thousand of Agamemnon, the men in their tents bereft of limbs and gods of mercy, men in the burning city, the men in the field who howled, the men of weary swords. The women of Troy had seen him thresh their husbands and brothers like a hot scythe in dry wheat. They had heard him tear their sons apart like a wild dog in a frenzy. They had tasted tears. The women of Troy wailed not for the Myrmidon King. They fled from their infested homes with curses for him and the Aegeans, fled from fire, fled from pain, fled from ransack and pillage and rape when able. Those that could not bit their tongues and drank their own blood.
Who remembers the cry of a thousand thousand thousand tired men ten years from home, and who remembers the sound of the women drowning, and who remembers the fire’s bite and the poisoned arrow’s sting? It was a song that ended an age.
And such a song survives it.
What do you hope to achieve? Friday and I have been together forever. Do you really think this is all it will take to drive a wedge between us? I guarantee you that no one will accept you lounging about on their calendars, prolonging the inevitable. What Friday and I share is sacred. Insinuating yourself where you don’t belong is just the height of hubris, and I don’t see how any self-respecting – any decent – person will let you get away with it. They’ll tear you off the week just like they did to Blottoday. Savor your fleeting victory, you old spite house.