Five Cups of Coffee by Legolover-361:
Jensen feigned an itch on the back of his neck.
He stood up, excusing himself to the pretty brunette sitting across the restaurant’s dinner table. She nodded, her painted lips tightening as she watched her date head for the bathroom. He could feel her eyes on him till he rounded the corner that led into the restroom hallway.
Once inside, he collapsed to his elbows atop the sink and stared into the mirror.
His suit was smart, checked meticulously for lint two hours before Jensen had left home. His normally messy hair had been combed just right, his glasses folded in his pocket in favor of contact lenses — he’d even shaved. He was a semi-successful movie critic who worked for a local newspaper; that was how he had met Sara and first asked her out. Two weeks and five cups of coffee later, here they were.
So why did the sparks refuse to fly?
Maybe he was being too stiff. He’d tried to crack some jokes near the beginning of the conversation, though; he had rehearsed them whilst at home, working on the timing of his own laugh and making sure his smile was neither too wide nor too unenthusiastic. But she had only gifted him with a small smile, a polite one that said, I don’t want to offend you, but your joke wasn’t funny, so please don’t bring it up again. Improvisation was dangerous, but if that was what she wanted...
Or maybe she wanted more contact. He had made sure to walk her to her table by the hand, his fingers around hers, lowering her onto her chair before he himself took a seat, but that had been it. More touching of fingers? Maybe he should plan for a quick good-bye hug before she left?
Think, Jensen, think! Maybe you planned this too much. Just... be yourself—
No. He’d invariably mess things up. That was not a good idea; in fact, that was a bad idea. He would just try to smile more. To ensure the smile reached his eyes properly, he rehearsed a few times in the mirror.
When he exited the restroom, he made sure to step with an air that was cautiously confident, casually professional—
One look from her and he melted inside.
He circumvented the tables between Sara and him, finally dropping himself into his chair but catching himself before he struck the cushions with an audible thump.
She sighed. He tried to meet her eyes, but she stared instead at the floor, one red fingernail tracing a circle above the edge of her wine glass. The glass was still full; the velvet liquid within caught the light from the candelabra above, its radiance complementing Sara’s deep crimson dress beautifully.
“Have I told you that you look stunning tonight?”
Her smile was, again, forced. “Yes. Multiple times. Five, if I’m not mistaken.”
He was taken aback. “You counted?”
Her hesitation was all he needed to collapse mentally, flicking as many safety switches as he could before the date burned out: innocently quizzical expression, raised eyebrows, a slight pout of his lips to show his remorse.
“—I’d like to go home.”
The pang he felt within his chest was familiar by now. Its familiarity, however, did not make it any less frightening. He opened his mouth but closed it for fear of messing up his damage control. His nod was slow but understanding. Only now was Sara’s smile genuine.
It has been said that fear does not exist within the order of the Temple, that we are proof against such dart of the Enemy. But that is false. Our armor of chain and helm cannot block those darts, our shields of wood cannot turn them, and our swords of steel cannot hew them.
Indeed, I fear, and some would say that I did rightly so. My hand upon the lance I bear feels sweaty, a sweat that is not to do with the heat of the heathen desert that encroaches upon us.
It can only be fear.
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us; but to thy name give glory. For thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake: lest the gentiles should say: Where is their God?”
The words ring through our heads, their meaning reflects off our swordblades and lancetips, even as their sound echoes from the mouth of every knight.
Not to us, not to our fear.
Forwards, always forwards. The breeze of the charge is refreshing against my face, although none reaches through the conical helm upon my head. Ahead of me by far the standard flies. Once again, the fear strikes me, the fear in the form of gladness, that I am not in the frontal lines, that I may indeed survive.
The enemy closes upon us, or rather we close over them. Through their ranks we fly, their men not proof against our charge. Images fly in spurts through my mind; the cry of a swordsman as the knight to my left rides him down, the shocked face of the spearman whose hauberk is pierced by my lance. I do not even see his corpse as he falls, for now we have moved on.
My hands are shaking, and my next thrust misses. Our glory has been achieved now, and the enemy is slaughtered by the dozens. I risk a glance over my shoulders; a line of mounted archers separate our forces from the main lines.
Trapped. Kill the Knights first, and then slaughter the rest of the force. My commander I tell has guessed this already, as our charge slows and he pauses before giving farther orders. But the whistle of arrows is heavy, and two slam into the bottom of my shield. But from the cries and tortured screams of the horses, I already know with a sinking feeling that our horses, our only means of escaping, are being butchered.
Escape; here also is the fear, the fear of flight. I feel it in my bones as I search for an enemy to slay, listen for an order from my commander. Then I too am falled, leaping out of the way as my horse collapses. The padded cloth and chain mail provide some blunting force, but not too much, and I land hard. Resting is not an option, and I scrabble to my feet. Few of us are on horse, the majority forming a makeshift shieldwall. Our archers, also on foot attempt to provide some return fire, but are far too few.
For thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake: lest the gentiles should say: Where is their God?
The enemy is advancing now, rapidly. Some dozen of us have fallen, but one could consider that our formation mad up for it. The banner is set in the ground, and we stand in a circle about it.
Then the lines clash.
Sword on sword, shield on shield, lance against main, axe against helm. They press upon us, with forces ten times our number. Even as I thrust an enemy through the throat I note that quality outweighs quantity. Until, of course, the knight next to me falls, and an enemy swordsman takes his place. Our single line cannot close fast enough. With a roar I slam my shield into my forwards enemy then spin to slice the forehead of the breacher open. He staggers back, but my enemy to the front has not fallen far, the press of attackers allows for not that. His mace slams into my chest, my armor of chain not proof. All around me, I can hear the cries of my comrades. I can see the enemy soldiers pouring in, feel their footsteps upon my fallen body.
“The cross has fallen! The banner has fallen!”
Where is our God? Where. The fear speaks once more as my breath fades, and with my last breath I laugh. Laugh yea, for it cannot harm me.
For my God is where I go. And fear is not there.
I do not fear.
Glass Children by Aimee/Aderia:
Sometimes I envy my classmates, the ones who always talk about sleeping in on Sunday mornings. My Sundays mornings from 9:00 until 10:30 are spent sitting on a rug in a nursery room studded with rocking chairs, bouncers, and cribs. I get it, not every teenager's Sunday morning dream is to keep infants happy and dodge projectile baby-formula vomit.
But really, I cannot complain. I have learned one very important thing about myself during these weekly hour and a half slots of time. It is a bit backwards, to be sitting on a plush pink carpet and jingling a Whinnie-the-Pooh rattle above the face of a gurgling two month old and realizing one of your deepest fears .
I fear the world, and all its atrocities. I fear for the innocence and laughter of these children that I watch over for a mere blink in their lifetime. To see their contagious joy melt and the simplicity in their life stolen, I fear for them. The world is not a kind place, and I have no faith that by the time they are my age, it will be kinder. Even though I will not know them in fifteen years, I hate to think of what the world will do to them.
The innocence of children will inevitably take flight, but my hope for them is that it will not be ripped violently away from them. I have lost that blissful oblivion that is characteristic of a small child. It's not often that a smile of a stranger makes me smile in return. I can't remember the last time I could sit down and be content just to watch the world, whether in a high-chair or not. I would say that I miss that innocence, but since I don't remember it, I cannot miss it.
The children are made of glass, and I can see their genuine and honest emotions, their simple and sweet emotions, as clearly as I see my own reflection in a mirror. How many true and unmasked emotions can I see in my own face?
My point is, that somewhere along the way, the precious and beautiful little children I see every Sunday morning will inevitably lose their ability to so fully find joy in the simple things in life, and I fear that in the world of a thousand tomorrows, they will never have a chance to find that joy again.
The Fear By Evan/Lego Junkie: