Written by Rebekah Postupak
Today he was uncertain, though yesterday there had been plenty to be certain about. Breakfast, yesterday, that was certain. Three eggs, fried hard, and a slab of thick bread burnt on one side, every day since he’d married Morian. A jug of cold water and a strip of oversalted dried beef brought to him out in the fields mid-morning: that was certain too. And a grin, one that spoke impossibly of mischief and soul-deep kindness at the same time, followed by a kiss.
He sat on the bed and pulled on his boots. They smelled rich, like the earth, part manure and part man sweat, with the lighter, sweet fragrances of spring grass and crushed pine needles floating on top. That smell, yesterday, was certain, certain as the tongue-lashing he got every night he tracked mud in, certain as her red-faced, whispered apologies after he wordlessly swept it up and handed her a bouquet of yellow-and-blue wildflowers. This, too, was always certainly followed by a kiss, or two, or many, and neither of them ever acknowledged his tendency to trail mud in even on dry days.
Standing, he shrugged into his coat, its left arm longer than the right. Morian’s mother had been certain no one would marry her maim-handed daughter, with nubs in place of fingers on the right hand, no good at sewing, no good at cooking, no good to anyone; but that had been wrong. From the day they’d met, he’d been certain he would never love anyone else. Why the laughing, raven-haired Morian loved him back—well, that was a peculiar and momentary uncertainty, but in the end he decided knowing might be too great a burden for his simple mind; maybe, if he grasped it fully, it would translate into a sin of some sort, and he would not be able to enter the great empyrean with impunity.
He cast a final glance about the room. The windows were shut and the breakfast dishes put away. Their rough quilt, rippled with sea greens and pieced together by the village women, had been folded neatly at the foot of the bed. Even Morian would approve, he felt certain.
Only one thing left, then.
He opened the wood chest and drew out his sword uncertainly from beneath their clothes. He did not have to look out the east window to see what lay at the foot of her favorite peach tree, but its weeping, too-fresh shadow burned the backs of his eyes all the same, and it took him longer than it should have to fasten the sword into its place on his belt. The sword hung there, awkward and heavy from disuse, but its edges were sharp and he was certain it would still obey his bidding. Yes. That was enough.
Into the bright morning he went, shutting the door firmly—certainly, now—behind him, and strode northward, where all the world could see tendrils of black smoke against the gentle blue of the sky. He gripped the sword tighter as the miles rushed past. Today, Death too was certain.
511 words, inspired by this week’s Finish That Thought flash challenge and incorporating a variation of the mandatory starting sentence (slightly modified for posting here) and optional three Challenge words (peculiar, impunity, empyrean) within the 500 word count requirement (slightly over for posting here; was 496 for the contest).