Just a Son.

It's not easy being the son of a Duke. There was a time, when I was much younger than I am now, and it seemed then, like all I really needed to do, was to wait around until my father died so that I could become the next Duke, and then I just had to provide an heir, so my son could wait around until I died, and then produce an heir... and so on and on so forth into something close to infinity.

So that's how I came to be a twenty five year old man with no real purpose in the world. That's why I came to be standing on a stool underneath a beam wishing I'd paid more attention when my scoutmaster had tried to teach me how to tie knots properly. And that's when I felt some one watching me.

I was in the old stable block; it had been way past mid-night when I arrived there, and I'd been there for some time already, so I didn't think there should be anyone about. I watched while the door opened further and a young woman walked in. I stood there on the old milking stool and opened and closed my mouth doing, in hindsight, what might have appeared to be a reasonably good impression of a codfish out of water. She looked me up and down, in the same manner as I'd seen my father inspecting a rather mediocre horse.

Then she said 'Morning, Sir,' nodded amicably, as if she always walked in to the stables expecting to find her Master's eldest son attempting to hang himself. I have to confess I was rather put out by her lack of reaction since I was secretly hoping that my untimely death would cause a bit of a stir, if not in the world at large then at least on my father's estate. So I decided to investigate this lack of reaction a bit further.

'I'm hanging myself.' Ok, I'll admit it's not what anyone could call a brilliant opening line, but I wasn't in the right frame of mind for small talk.

She looked back up at me. 'Right you are, Sir, I'll get what I came for and be out of your way in no time.'

I'd expected shock, maybe, deep down in a romantic soul, I'd hoped that she'd scream, or may even faint. After all, that's what I'd have probably done back then, if I walked in on someone who was actively involved in committing suicide. It seemed awfully bad manner's for her to take it all in her stride, as if she didn't care, as if she wasn't even surprised.

'What exactly did you come in here for?' I asked in a somewhat peeved voice.

'The wheel barrow and the fork, Sir, and a few other bit's and pieces.'

She sat down on one of the benches, pulled her boots off and reached for a pair off battered green Wellingtons, with the smooth, casual motion of someone who's done the same thing everyday for a number of years, and who isn't going to change the routine just because a man wants to hang himself. 'You work here?' I asked, more for something to say than for any other reason, I was starting to feel a bit of a fool standing on a chair while she got on with her daily activities.

'Yes, Sir.'

I twirled the rope in my fingers absent mindedly. 'You don't have to call me Sir, you know.' I said, aiming for a friendly relaxed tone of voice, but not quite managing it.

'I know that, Sir.'

'Oh.' I don't think there were a lot I could say to that, so I stood there while she busied herself preparing for what ever it was she did.

'Don't you care that I'm going to hang myself?' I know the question sounded like I was fishing for some one to stop me, but I couldn't stop myself from asking it.

The girl looked up at me, taking in every detail. 'I'm sure you know best, Sir,' She began, her tone of voice suggesting she believed something very different. 'But you'll not be hanging yourself as you are.'

'I assure you, Miss... I assure you that I fully intend to hang myself right now.'

She stared at me again. Shrugged and said 'Fair enough, Sir, just as you like.' And then she leaned back against the wall, apparently making herself comfortable to watch me die.

I don't know what possessed me, but I found myself tossing the rope over the beam and leaning over to tie it off against the wall hook. Satisfied that the knot would hold, I checked the knot at the other end and placed my head though the loop.

They're maybe no other man in the country that has committed suicide just because he didn't want to back down in front of a pretty girl. But I took a deep breath and kicked the stool out from beneath my feet.

Even now, I'm not one hundred percent sure about what happened next. But, I am reliably informed that the beam I'd chosen to be my scaffold was so full of woodworm that the only things keeping the wood dust together were the cobwebs.

So, of course, when my weight was added to the rope, instead of a dramatic death, there was a bang, as I almost re-caught my footing on the stool, and then a prolonged crash as I somehow caught my other foot the stool while I was in mid air and then fell back onto the stool, breaking one of it's three elderly legs and then I landed in an untidy pile, while it gently rained wood dust.

I pushed back my somewhat messy hair, and looked up at... what ever her name was and practically dared her to laugh. I know now that she was a girl who could never resist a dare.

To Be Continued...

Authors note. That's it so far - please review and tell me what you think - is this worth continuing? Any feedback would be really appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to read it.

Cadi.