This week's prompt was: "I closed my eyes and reached into the class treasure chest. Uh oh. THAT'S not a pencil."
Without further adieu....
The Tale of Augustus the Formidable and Nina the Maiden Fair, and Her Brother
Kyler bent at the front of the classroom and yanked the sneaker from his sockless foot with a flourish. The classroom gasped when he propped the mottled thing upon a desk chair, wincing as he pulled off the giant Band-Aids. The foot had a small, sure hole clean through the middle of it, right where he’d stepped on the nail, and there was blood dried around its edges like some kind of fruity jam. The classroom oohed and ahhed appreciatively. Violet felt her stomach turn. How in the world could she be expected to follow a show-and-tell like that? There was no way! It was bad enough to forget what day it was and have to pick something from the classroom treasure chest, but to follow a show complete with real live blood? Definitely no way.
By the time Kyler’d put away his bloody foot, and Ms. Forman had called her to the front of the room, Violet couldn’t even bring herself to fake a smile. She stood there, right behind the desk chair that now had bits of dried blood on it, and looked to her classmates faces. Some smirked. Most looked wary, as if they knew she was going to have to show-and-tell something boring. Violet closed her eyes, and reached to the chest sitting on the floor beside the desk chair. No….no….no…ahh—there was something interesting. Definitely not something boring like, like a pencil. She wondered what it was. Her hand gripped the thing as she pulled it out.
And if she’d though the gasps Kyler got were great, they were nothing compared to these. Shyly, Violet unsqueezed one eye. Then she gasped herself.
Two men, one very tall and dangerous looking in a funny vest and tights, and the other very short and car-salesman-looking, also in a funny vest and tights, fought a duel in the space between her and the rest of the class. No way! She opened both eyes to get a better look.
“How dare you speak of fair Nina in such a manner, thou foul beast!”cried the short squat man as he bandied his sword at the tall man, who roared and backed away from the other’s onslaught of terrific swordsmanship.
“I am no beast,” cried he, as he fought his way back from the trees at the edge of the clearing. Violet had but a moment to wonder from where the trees had appeared. Trees? She scuttled over to the rest of the class, who were all huddled behind Mrs. Foreman, near the trees. Kyler leaned around Mrs. Forman’s right arm, grinning like the rest of the class.
“Nice show-and-tell, Vi,” he whispered. “How’d you manage an honest to gosh swordfight?”
“I—I—” stuttered Violet. Just then, her attention was attracted back to the clearing, where the dangerous man was once again on the offensive. His feet flew left, then right, then a quick front-left-left-front-right.
“I am no beast!” he cried again, pausing to weigh his sword cruelly as the squat man stepped carefully from him in a slow circle. “I am Augustus the Formidable! No maiden can resist me; no man can outmatch me!” And he flew at the circling man.
“You are a beast, Augustus!” cried the squat man as he thrust this way and that with his sword. “To temp a maiden like fair Nina to love, and then to throw it away, already married to another!” The girls behind Mrs. Forman gasped yet again, and began murmuring frantically to each other.
“She shall never know,” hissed Augustus, and with a slash, he pierced the squat man square in the heart. Jenny, Violet’s girly-girl classmate, fainted dead away in to some bushes. Nobody paid her any attention. For at that moment, a striking lady appeared in the clearing, on the other side of the fight, just in time to see the fatal strike. She was slight and pretty, dressed in simple princess garb. Her hand extended romantically to the men.
“Brother!” she cried, rushing to the squat man’s side as he fell to the ground. Mrs. Forman put a hand to her mouth. Another girl fainted into the bushes. Augustus looked down upon the brother and sister, his face expressionless.
“He challenged me. I am sorry, dearest heart,” he said to the pretty lady. His voice was soft, smooth—surprisingly kind. Yet Violet could feel her classmates’ dislike radiating at him.
“But…but why? Why, dear Augustus? Wherefore would my beloved brother challenge you, of all people, my dear, to a duel?”
And before Augustus could utter a lie, the brother struggled up, and sputter “He…is...married.” With those heart-wrenching words, the brother died, and the pretty young woman looked up at Augustus. Violet’s classmates were utterly silent. Not even a twig snapped under their feet as they leaned toward the couple in the clearing. Neither of them looked to the class.
“Is this true?” Her voice was low, her head turned to the body of her fallen brother in such a way that the resemblance was somehow more noticeable than before.
“Because,” the man said, tilting back his chin as he looked down upon her with disdain, “because I could.”
And the woman screamed a long, piteous scream, and began crying “Mi corazon! Mi Corazon!” and then she pulled the sword from her brother’s stiff hand. In one movement stood, lunged, and thrust the sword at Augustus, still screaming, and missed. She threw her free hand to her head, staggered to the left, then staggered to the right, and tripped over the corpse in the clearing, sobbing, and as she did, she switched her grip on the sword so that the hilt was firm against the ground, and she fell, she fell, she fell—
The classroom reappeared around them, now all huddled in front of Mrs. Forman’s desk. Jenny had somehow managed to end up inside the desk, in the large bottom left drawer, and she promptly began bellowing to be let out. Most of the girls were crying—quietly of course, but definitely crying. A couple of the boys even had red eyes and noses which looked suspiciously runny.
“Well,” Mrs. Forman said, dabbing at her eyes, then smoothing down her shiny black hair, her blouse, her dress skirt, “that’s some imagination you have inside your noggin, Miss Violet. Alright, class, alright. Miss Violet’s use of the ‘imagination creation’ from the treasure chest was quite exciting, I know, but we must calm ourselves. Back to your seats, now.” One by one the class filed back to their seats, some sniffling. Mrs. Forman pulled Jenny out of her desk drawer, and guided her to the front of the classroom where Violet had been just a moment before.
“Great,” Jenny harrumphed at them, her face splotchy and streaked with tears. “How’s my show-and-tell supposed to follow that?”