Another Chance

The girl approached the barricade slowly, making a rustling, fluttering sound. Her long, full skirted black dress was held out by many starched petticoats. There was a cascade of black lace down the bodice, and a silver necklace lay nestled in the folds of that. Her sleeves began at the shoulder as narrow, but puffed out at the elbow, and were gathered up again just above the wrists, in the style of the day. She wore a black straw bonnet with lilies on it, which all but concealed her sleek black hair.

"Ugh. It's hot," she muttered. She'd been working harder than usual since last night, and she was growing slightly irritable. She tugged at the bonnet ties. "Silly thing. It's cute and all, but I'd rather be working in, say, Africa, where they wear much less--" She trailed off as she saw the one she'd come here seeking, on this visit.

He was young and handsome, that she could see instantly, even with all the blood covering him. She stooped next to his body, which lay twisted in an odd angle. His ‘joie de vivre’, as his tongue would put it, was evident, even as he struggled for his last, blood-choked breaths.

"Oh, I can't take him!" she said suddenly to herself. She bit her lip. "Tisn't fair, he was only trying to do right. He only gets a lifetime, I know, but-- he should have been somewhere else, sometime else. Where young men don't die for politics." She thought for a moment, and just as he was gasping his last agonized breath, she had the answer.

In the turmoil, no one noticed the body of one of the slain boys disappearing, and certainly, over the musket fire, no one heard the sound of beating wings.

--Jeni Baron