Enjoy the short story by Liliana Melchor below. She penned the winning entry in MidPointe Library Trenton's teen writing contest.
"Chrysanthemums for our Farewell"
It was twelve minutes after midnight. A strong autumn wind passed through a horde of warriors that slashed at each other like rabid dogs. The wind carried the clear, heavy scent of burnt wood and smoke through the battlefield in the direction from the village in which a desperate battle was taking place. The sound of metal clashing rang out throughout the field of chrysanthemums as they were dyed red from men’s greed. Many innocent lives were to be lost in the darkness of the night.
Midnight horses with men of silver rode through the reddened field with scars on their faces that detailed their story like a crinkled script. Glowing beings of light descended from the back of the silver fleet as they made their way to the front of the army. Their brilliance was overwhelming as there power rolled off of them like waves of a never ending tsunami. When their majestic hands raised up their fingertips released chains of the purest gold and barely a flicker of their fingers sent the golden chains about in a bloody frenzy as screams of pain rode on the wind and echoed throughout the fields. Their majestic forms seemed to never waiver as they continued their onslaught on the enemy without a trace of mercy.
On the other side of the battlefield a heavy miasma reigned as an army of darkness advanced upon the silver soldiers. Their ears were pointed like the vampiric fangs that took residence behind their reddened lips. Their ears were pointed and were sensitive to the smallest sound, and their nails were as sharp as a knife’s blade. Their very core seemed to radiate demonic energy as they gracefully danced their way through the soldiers. The heavy weaponry and armor they doned did little to slow them down as they slashed at their enemies and contradicted the golden chains with their own strength and majesty. At first glance they could have passed as humans if not for their inhuman beauty and the demonic markings that coursed down their cursed skin. Beauty did very little to conceal the blood that stained the armor and glorious robes of the two sides. Their true nature and intentions could easily be seen as they continued killing without remorse; in reality neither side was more guilty than the other.
The saddest part was the last momentum the warriors were graced with as their forms descended onto the unforgiving earth and their souls fell into a never ending slumber. The cries of their horses could be heard as they mourned their master’s loses with the respect they deserved. Many women carried their babies upon their backs or close to their bosom as they ran into the safety of the forest. Many made the mistake of glancing back just in time to be slaughtered along with their legacies. Husbands and Fathers whispered the names of their loved ones as they laid on the cold, autumn ground awaiting their final breath, as crimson bled from their extensive wounds. Many cried as they watched a companion fall in their moment of glory and mourned themselves into eternity. Yet there was only one word that could be used to describe this scene-Hope.The hope that tomorrow could be the day in which peace would reign, in which their children and wives could live a life of prosperity and happiness was enough to drive the soldiers through the horrors of war.
Many lives were lost, warriors became mentally unstable and left without essential limbs, wives became widows, and children were left orphaned. Even through all this sorrow a few brave souls rose up to form a binding treaty that would resound through the ages. Even when the war was over the fighting between the Demon, Goddess, and Human race continued for two years before a compromise was finally reached after months of negotiating.
The treaty had one simple rule that was to be obeyed without question :
For the sake of the survival of the decreasing human race and the coexistence between the three worlds, demons and goddesses were never to fraternize with each other.
Death was the cruel punishment for the traitors who disobeyed this one command.
Six years had passed since the formation of the treaty and it held strong until a windy autumn day. Near the river that served as the border between the three lands, May patrolled the area, as her duties commanded of her. The scent of chrysanthemums teased her subconscious into coming closer to the border than what was allowed.
Upon reaching the clearing her eyes took in the majestic blooming of the flowers around her. She lost herself in the peaceful aura it radiated and had yet to realize the other presence in the area. The body of a muscular young man with short hair the color of the purest obsidian, stood up from his position on the flower laden ground. At the sign of movement from the man, May got into a fighting stance with her bow ready to fire on her side of the river.
“What are you doing so close to the border Demon?” She asked as he took in her appearance. Her hair was the color of the sweetest syrup and complemented her blue-gray eyes that resembled the sky during a storm.
“Is it so wrong for a person to meditate in a place where they feel they will not be disturbed.” He answered as the young Goddesses eyes narrowed with suspicion.
“I suppose not, but you are still a Demon, and are too close to our border. I have no choice but to stay here and wait until you leave.” With those words she lowered her bow and came closer to the river to sit near the edge.
“My name is Akio.” He responded as he also sat on the opposite side of the river.
“May” She responded.
Neither knew that this simple exchange of names would spark the first flame of a forbidden love.
A year had passed since their first meeting and their attraction for each other grew as their meetings increased. Without their consent their unlikely friendship had bloomed into a passionate love that lead the other to desire to touch their source of affection. It was this forbidden love that led them to finally ignore the border and indulge in a passionate, searing kiss. It was this love that lead to their destruction, as their people sentenced the man to death under the judgement that he had tricked the celestial maiden into loving him.
A wavering hand reached out and caught the black sleeve of the hakama Akio wore and pulled him back with all its might.
“You don’t have to go.” A whimpering voice whispered out as she clutched to his sleeve with desperation. A hand settled on top of hers as she was pulled into an embrace and a soft voice echoed through her ear.
“ I will take the blame and take your place in death, so just let yourself be free, because there is so much of the world that you have left to see. Please just smile for me, before my time to leave has come. My last wish is to be sent away with your beautiful smile that is as radiant as the sun.” Akio moved his head away from May’s ear and looked into her teary eyes. May lifted her hand to wipe her tears from the corners of her eyes as she lovingly smiled, handing him a white chrysanthemum.
“I know one day you’ll come back to me, so this parting gift I give is not our goodbye.” Akio was about to lean in to give her a kiss when a man with a black mask opened the door to the room they resided in.
“Akio, it is time.” the man came forward and tied a rope around his hands and led him away from May, the man was leading Akio toward his final breath and away from the woman he loved.
May stood in the dark room staring at the door that had cut her bond to her beloved. She spilled no tears as she reached under her white skirt to pull out a small hand knife with determination, as she closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“This will not be our goodbye, by this I swear my love that we will meet again.” and plunged the knife into her frail body picturing her beloved’s face.
In the year 2018 in a classroom a brown haired girl sat reading a copy of Romeo and Juliet when the teacher announced that the class had a new student. She raised her blue eyes curiously only to meet golden ones staring back at her with love. Past memories poured into her mind, overwhelming her as tears fell from her stormy blues.
Love may have taken them away from each other, but it was also love that had reunited them in the end.