08 December 2010 | 534 words
This one’s for the prompt “Isolation.”
The marble bench was cold, the tower’s wall hard against Faramir’s back as he sat in the gardens, taking in the incredible display before him. There the four hobbits played, passing a smooth leather ball from hand to hand and foot to foot, and with them Legolas, the tall elf of legends, and Gimli, stout and boisterous, and no other than Lord Elessar himself, recently crowned king of Gondor. The companions’ laughter and calls blossomed in the green gardens; their faces glowed in the light of a soft afternoon sun.
“Here, Sam, kick!”
“What, Master Elf, you’ll let these younglings get the better of you?”
“I’m free! Frodo!”
“Not so fast—”
“Ho, Strider! Merry, get him!”
The move ended with Elessar sprawled in the grass under a pile of hobbits, laughing and clutching the ball to his chest. Faramir felt their happiness coursing through him as if it were his own, his own soul singing friendship and camaraderie to this mismatched band of heroes.
How simple it would be…
As if in a vision, he saw himself rise to his feet and leave the bench in its shadowy corner. Cross the lawn on light feet. The game would pause; smiling faces would turn to him. And he would say, “May I?“—or perhaps one of the hobbits (perhaps even Elessar) would say, “Will you join us, Faramir?“—and the game would resume with him among them, running and swerving and dodging and laughing, free and weightless, basking in the warmth of their companionship—
He shook himself and looked up from his bench. The ball had landed not ten steps away, just that side of the shadows, and Elessar was jogging toward it, panting softly.
Faramir rose to his feet, berating himself for letting his mind wander.
“Apologies, Your Highness—”
Elessar brushed it aside and turned, with an expert kick, to send the ball sailing toward the hobbits. He turned back and wiped his brow. “Won’t you join us?”
Warmth unfolded in Faramir’s chest and demanded an outlet, found it in a slow, wide smile. For a moment, emotion struck him speechless.
“Come on, then,” Elessar said, his own smile blinding, and began to jog back toward his friends.
Faramir followed, pausing to blink as he crossed from shadow into light. And suddenly he could not move on. He couldn’t do this. He was neither weightless nor free; he didn’t know how to run about and laugh. He felt smothered by heavy chains that snaked all over his body, chains forged of dark memories and cooled in blood, locked in place by the specter of his father. Their crushing weight almost bowed him to the ground; it was all he could do not to fold over.
He couldn’t do this.
He retreated a step, sighed in relief as cool shadows enveloped him once again. His will and composure regained, Faramir turned on his heel and strode away to his office, to the library, the stables, anywhere his well-trained hands would know their task and not betray him with uncertain weakness.
Within him, as if in a vision, he saw himself wailing in despair and pounding against the restraints of flesh and memory that carried him away.
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The following people read the story, enjoyed it, and would like to thank the author: Ulaire , alecia , Signe