A descriptive piece I wrote for an English class, set in 1800s America. Enjoy.
The forest lay still; quiet, and serene as shreds of sunlight sifted through the canopy made by countless fir trees. A cardinal, its plumage creating a bright red arpeggio in the score of verdant green trees, cried out in the impending twilight before taking roost on a heavy branch. These woods seemed all too subdued, when normally a cacophony of birds and animals would rustle the brush underfoot or accent the atmosphere with their songs. The peace was soon disrupted, however, but not by any bird or beast. Mariann, her eyes alight with a fiery determination, stamped through the trees, clutching an old shotgun at her side as she picked along the berry bushes burdened by the fruits of summer. Leaves entwined in her lovely hair and branches tore at her fine sleeves as she struggled through the brush.
Streams of reddening sunlight finally broke through as the woods began to thin; eventually, the trees dissolved into a field, ardently glimmering in varying shades of gold as a breeze whispered along. Another woman, this one with a loose bonnet tied about her hair, strolled through the tall grasses, appearing wistful as she absorbed her surroundings. A devious simper replaced Mariann's formerly frustrated expression; she stifled a snicker towards the one who now walked through the fields so calmly, for she was the precise motive for her coming here. A shiver electrified her nerves as she raised her rifle to her right eye, glaring down the barrel at she who dared take her away from the only thing she could ever have loved.
Her finger quivered on the trigger, the lithe muscles in her hand poised to snap. Without warning, another figure came into Mariann's line of sight. She sighed in frustration, digging one foot into the ground as her opportuniy vanished. It was him -- the man she knew all too well, scooping up his wife from behind and clasping her in a blissful embrace. Mariann's eyes narrowed with jealously and rage as she watched their encounter. That wasn't the way it was supposed to be – that wasn't the way it should have been. It should have been her, a classy lady, standing beside him, not this impoverished wretch. She lowered the gun, continuing to observe the joyful pair, her fury increasing with every step they took in tandem. It didn't have to be this way, she knew. Mariann realized that she could have done more to keep him by her side, to be with him forever. But she had missed her chance with him so many years ago, just as she missed her chance just now in a situation far different.
Her eyes shone with unshed tears as a dozen conflicting emotions strove erratically through her mind, reflected across her face. The couple was walking hand in hand now, strolling through the auburn grasses, taking no heed to the advancing sunset. The field was cast in a vibrant crimson glow; the estranged lady could see the fiery rays play in the darkness of the woman's eyes as she gazed softly, lovingly, upon her husband's form. It was nearly too much to bear. As Mariann turned away from the scene she so longed to be a part of, she clutched at her face in anguish, the shotgun falling to the earthy ground. What was she doing here? She wouldn't dare shoot someone! Especially not a woman; that was absolute folly! She shouldn't even be here! Yet, her conscience reminded her wickedly, her chance may as well be forgotten unless his wife is dispatched of.
Clenching her teeth as she tried desperately to interpret her thoughts, she reached down, deftly plucking the weapon into her delicate hands. Mariann slowly swiveled about to face the forest's edge, her livid eyes searching the field in dismay. Both figures had disappeared. After a few moments of disbelief, she saw the man reappear behind a thriving magnolia. He peered up into the tree with interest, watching his wife as she climbed up onto the tree's strong branches. Her billowing white dress -- likely the best she owned, the poor thing -- had snagged on a limb; the amateur assassin could see her laughing with mild embarrassment as she struggled to free the hem. Mariann blinked rapidly, stunned. This was a perfect chance for her -- her target was rendered immobile for the time being. Even for her, a novice markswoman at best, nothing could be more effortless to hit. It was only a matter of moments, though, before her stroke of luck vanished.
With a nervous twitch, she clutched her firearm, raising it once more to her eye. It had to be done. The woman knew he would be devastated, but in his time of grief, who would be there to comfort him? Yes, yes, just who would be there? No one but her – she would be his stronghold, something to hold on to, to cling to, just as his world fell apart. She could see it now; they would fall in love again, and she could relive the days when the mere sight of him was a breath of heaven, instead of this tortuous hell it had become.
The woman nodded vigorously to herself as her resolve formed once more. Cocking the gun with a flash of arrogance, she refocused the barrel of the shotgun towards her victim. No, not a victim, but a martyr. Her one death would cause eternal happiness for two other people, after all. Her vision blazed as she glowered fiercely in the wife's direction, struggling to make herself fully believe what her conscious mind fought to impart to her. "This is it," she mused quietly. "My very…last chance…"
Mariann closed her eyes as her fingers tightened on the trigger. The report sprang harshly from the surrounding bark; birds and beasts alike soared from their places of hiding. Recovering from the severe blowback of her shotgun, the woman's fading stare fixed itself on a woman who seized her husband closely; his head drew about wildly, searching for the source of his beloved's near demise.
A grateful smile graced Mariann's lips as she drew a ragged breath. His wife...was wholly unharmed. She must have fallen from the tree just as the shot grazed the leaves. Awakening from a stunned daze, she noted that her firearm remained in her hands. At the sight of it, she ground her teeth in rage, a scream escaping her lips as she tossed the weapon aside in bitter disgust. Mariann could have hit her – hell, she could even hit her now. Thoughts raced through her mind – she should have been quicker to squeeze the trigger, else that woman wouldn't be alive right now. Mariann could try once more -- there was still time...!
The woman shook her head slowly. It was no use. Still, the two sides argued with each other in the catacombs of her mind, making her shudder with the effort of keeping her mind in line. Tears of resent and of gratitude stung her eyes as she turned to watch the pair one last time. They were closer now than before; their arms encircled each other as they meandered back in the direction from whence they came.
Never could she return after this day. She was all too aware of the dire consequences that could arise if she ever did. Her mouth twisted grotesquely as she fell into a dejected gait towards the sheltering trees. Her rifle lay unattended on the disturbed soil, the final rays of twilight invoking a sullen, steely glow on its barrel as the cardinal trilled in peaceable manner. The couple she had aspired so viciously to keep apart now disappeared into their home, closer than ever before.
R+R is love.