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Taking the Blame

By @maykrebey

Caught with Death

He feels her windpipe slowly being crushed under his ever-tightening hands, his eyes fill to the brim with red-hot wrath. Her face, turning deeper shades of maroon, has begun to blur as his dizzying fury mixes with tears of horror and exertion. But in his swirling vision, he can still clearly see her eyes. They don’t shine with the wetness of fear, but they sparkle with amusement. They are not big with terror, but they crinkle in the corners as if she is laughing. His confusion cuts through the rage long enough for her face to come into focus, and he sees her whole face contorts into a broad, laughing smile. No sound of a laugh escapes her lips because her breath only slips out from his crushing hands in small gurgles.

Hearing this startles him, and his hands release their grip around her neck. After a few coughs, she looks into his eyes and whispers, with a hoarse, bruised voice, “Thank you for taking the blame from me.”

Suddenly, the massive oak double doors swing open with a boom. A row of the royal guard charges in the room, followed by the King. “What is all the commotion? What is going on in here?” the king bellowed as he passed over the threshold.

When his eyes focus on the center of the room, his feet freeze to the floor, with his eyes wide. His daughter, the Crown Princess Narissa, lays limp on the floor, her eyelids drooping and death-like. On top of her seemingly lifeless body, her brother, Arlo, straddles her hips, with his hands still touching her neck. Even from across the room, bruises display an imprint of the prince’s large fingers on her small, pale neck.

The scene that lays before the King fills his ears with a pounding, rage-filled pulse, and his mouth begins to taste like bile. In a split second of absorbing the treachery in front of him, before his body could make him bend over and heave onto the stone floor, he raises his arm, pointing an accusing finger. “Seize him!” the king’s voice catches in his throat, almost turning his ordinarily mighty roar into a distressed shriek.

Arlo did not look away from his sister’s face. He saw her face seamlessly fall from a smile to beautiful, martyr-like death as the doors opened. The shaking prince saw the maroon color transfer from her face to the bruises he left on her neck. He only broke his gaze when two guards pulled him off her and tackled him to the floor. As they handcuff his wrists, with his head pressed to the floor with a boot, he stares at her motionless body. He can’t help but wonder if her smile and her words were a creation of his imagination at the height of murderous anger.

As the guards roughly pull him to his feet, she is gently lifted from the ground, her head falling back over the guard’s arm. As his guards bend down to shackle his feet, the guard, carrying the princess, quickly turns to rush her out of the room and to the doctor’s chamber. As if in slow motion, the Prince sees the Princess open her eyes slightly, look straight into his bewildered gaze, and smiles. Then she mouths two words in his direction; though he couldn’t be sure, he could almost hear the words, “Have fun,” as loud in his head as he reads them from her lips.

As quickly as this exchange occurs, her eyes and lips fall shut again, and she is whisked out of the room and out of sight. No one else saw this silent dialogue, and even if someone had been looking directly in her face, a single blink could have blinded them of the whole encounter. The guards had their attention on her brother instead, the two holding tight to his arms, as four others stand on all sides of him, with their rifles drawn and aimed for his head. The King was slowly able to pull his senses back together enough to move his feet from where they had rooted into the floor. He stepped closer until he joins the circle of guards in the center of the room, his face cold as his son raises his head to look pleadingly into his eyes. “This killing spree has been going on far too long. You have already brought too much death to this house, and now you have turned on your sister”. The Prince’s eyes widen with horror, finally coming to the full realization how much this act of impulsive rage had condemned him. The king turned away, and motioned to the guards with his hands, commanding “Take him to the dungeon. Execute him at dawn.”

The guards tightened their grip on him as they begin to drag him towards the door. The Prince tries to brace his feet against the floor, but the marble is too slick, and the guards overpower him, thrusting him forwards. The Prince wanted to scream his innocence, that she had provoked him, that he was trying to take down a monster; however, his voice is reduced to a hoarse whimper, as his cries were choked by holding back tears. As they enter the hall, the entourage turns left, and the prince catches a glimpse of the guard carrying the princess down the corridor to the right, headed in the opposite direction. He to this death and she to have life restored to her.

He was finally able to summon his voice, letting out emotional wails, “She made me do it! She made me attack her! SHE’S THE KILLER, NOT ME! I WAS JUST TRYING TO STOP THE MONSTER!” The King turned a deaf ear to his son’s cries, assuming they were the crazed ravings of a man desperate not to die. Why would the princess wish for her death?

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