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Donna J. W. Munro
Donna J. W. Munro teaches high school social studies. Her students inspire her every day. She has an MA in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University. Her pieces are published in Dark Moon Digest # 34, Flash Fiction Magazine, Astounding Outpost, Nothing’s Sacred Magazine IV and V, Corvid Queen, Hazard Yet Forward (2012), Enter the Apocalypse (2017), Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths II (2018), Terror Politico (2019), Burning Love, Bleeding Hearts (2020), and others. Her upcoming novel, Revelations: Poppet Cycle 1, will be published by Omnium Gatherum in 2020. Contact her at https://www.donnajwmunro.com or @DonnaJWMunro on Twitter
Sometimes you encounter a love strong enough to confound the gods. This is one of those times.
Fighting the Storm
By Donna J. W. Munro
Jorcerâ’s spear pointed up at the sky, always.
Standing next to the leaning palms, watching the sky for the folding clouds bored him, but he knew that letting his spear slip invited the wrath of the gods. The stirred clouds hadn’t marched across the face of the turquoise sea in three years.
He’d not be the one to invite the god’s anger.
For hours he stood, watching the others fishing, washing their clothes in the warm waves, laughing and chasing in the sand.
He’d been with them until last year when his grown name found him.
Jor for protector. Cer for gods.
How he wished he’d been called Jorfa so he could creep through the forest, hunting the parka beasts instead. His hut mates had all been called for that job. Only he was Jorcer. He and his relief, a skinny girl he’d tormented when they’d been children, now Jarcar, the female protector from the gods.
She slept in the hut behind the post on the crag rock that jutted out over the bay. They cared for one another. Cooked and cleaned for each other, but never shared a word. Because, to talk would distract the one on watch.
The storm waited for a distraction.
His spear felt thick and heavy in his hands, and it dipped in a breeze.
Always the demons of the island came to tempt him. He heard their words in his ears as he stood watch, “they don’t deserve your care.”
“See them? They don’t even remember you are here.”
“Put down the spear, and we will protect you.”
None of their words made him want to do wrong. They weren’t the true temptation.
No. He’d been girded against the works of demons by the dream priest before they gave him his spear made of brunt wood spit from the volcano -- a gift from the island goddess to protect her young. A spear of warding.
The words of demons were... amusing. He laughed at them and listened to them curse in anger at their failure.
No. The true temptation was Jarcar.
She’d grown comely in the years since her adult naming. Her deep, black eyes shone with fire when their hands brushed passing the spear at the end of shifts. And when he stood, back to her and face in the sea wind watching the waves and the horizon’s pink and orange flirt with the deep blue of rising night’s twinkling gown, he’d hear her singing to herself before she took to her bedroll.
And at night sometimes, she talked in her sleep.
In the deep silence of the still island night, her words carried out to the crag he stood on and those words made him want to throw down the spear and gather her up and kiss her thin lips.
“Jorcer,” she’d whisper, “so fair.”
“My love, Jorcer,” she’d say.
And then he’d hear her dream of them together.
Words so hot that his body shook and the spear bit back against the pressure of his clutching fingers.
Then she’d come the next day, eyes downcast, and take the spear from him for her shift, never knowing how he’d heard her.
So, he sang for her as she stood. Watched her shapely back curves and muscles twitch.
He’d make her bread and leave it by her bed roll.
Flowers on her pillow.
A love affair without any contact.
One night, when the demons had silenced, Jorcer heard movement behind him. Soft footfalls on the crag’s mossy carpet. And then her hands were on him.
He stayed at his post and gods, he should have fallen to his knees for the heat of what she did that night. Hands all over him, kisses on his back, whispers of love in his ear.
He never turned and she never broke his vigil by coming to the front of him to block his view, but they were lovers just the same.
In the morning when Jarcar took the spear, the shyness was gone. In its place, a smile. Hope. A glance that made Jarcar’s heart hammer and his body shimmer with satisfied weakness.
For a long second, they held their hands together on the spear.
For a long second, their gazes locked in love.
The demons howled their success in a screaming wind that swept from the island’s face across the sea to wake the gods. Within seconds the folding clouds of an attack roiled across the face of the choppy, darkening sea.
Below the crag, the other islanders screamed, running toward the volcano’s high ground against the rushing waves of the sea, the marching wall of storm.
“This is my fault,” Jarcar said from behind him.
Jorcer shook his head. “No love. We will fight them together.”
He turned and took her hand, drawing her up to his side so she could hold the spear with him. She smiled and leaned in as the tall wave marched toward them, sucking up the whole bay in its stir. Their lips found each other in hunger and for a moment, the howling curses of the gods in the storm didn’t matter.
Their warmth was a star in the vault of the sky.
A beat in a dying heart.
The wave licked the bottom of the mass of black clouds that stood in the bay, hesitating. Held up as the power of Jorcer and Jarcar’s love washed out into the world.
The island whispered to them.
Her promise was a sad one, but they’d be together at least.
They lifted the spear into the air, catching the attention of the storm. Their love held the storm, kept it from washing everything away, but it couldn’t stop the storm forever. Debts were due for the moment they’d stolen.
They were the payment there on the crag.
With one burst of anger, the gods sent a crashing bolt of light to fry them into ash -- payment made. But as the power of sky magic flowed through them, the island pumped her blood into their cells through their feet, turning them into stone. Forever joined. Forever together there on the crag, spear ward raised and loving hearts beating slow in the stone as one.