Chapter 24, cont.
I look so elegant, in my formal dress. I finally look like a lady. Posed. Beautiful. Commanding. I am the Princess, after all. I even look regal. That’s what a princess does, isn’t it? Look regal at important social functions. My duty. It’s all I have left.
But I have been undone. My Love’s death is a knife wound right into my heart, and I can almost see the metaphorical life-blood slow leak out of me, leaving a shell. I am the shell that first returned home from the war, alone, without Mitchell, dark and empty.
This is such a lovely day for a funeral. The spring Floridian day is clear and warm, a small breeze blowing this way and that with hints of pine and flowers on the air.
We are in a meadow surrounded by a pine forest, in the middle of a newly constructed cobblestone parade ground. Hundreds of people, almost all of them military, more than I bothered counting, are crammed on the ground, in a circle around what looks disturbingly like a pyre. There she lies in her uniform, looking peaceful and tranquil, the black and blue Federation flag covering the lower part of her body. A smaller circle of unique cobblestone surrounds her dais, and they glow with silver light.
I can hear someone speaking about her, but the words, like my current perception of reality, are fuzzy. Some type of Military-religious mumbo-jumbo. I keep staring at her. There is something, there is, something is wrong.
Suddenly, I realize the person talking has stopped, and I’m standing right next to her. How did I get here? I can’t remember, and now everyone is staring at me.
She is serenely beautiful, and I stare at her, trying to figure out what is wrong. It’s not her uniform or her makeup, or her hairstyle. She is missing something.
I draw my saber. It glistens in the afternoon sunlight.
Someone behind me gasps. I place my sword on her, the hilt underneath folded hands, the curve of the tip pointed towards her boots.
There, my Love. I’ve never used it, but it’s a good sword, and very, very, sharp, and beautiful. Like you. A warrior should not be without a good weapon in the afterlife. Go and battle evil in whatever lies beyond, my Love.
I kiss her cold lips and walk back to my place, feeling much better.
I am the Goddess of War, after all. Arming my subjects to serve me in the afterlife is my purview.
If I listen closely, I can hear the Princess crying. I ignore her. The Goddess of War has awoken. And she has no use for tears.
As the body on the pyre burns, the Princess screams, and is no more. Yet, strangely, as I look around, no one notices this is a funeral for two.