Past Lives: Song & Sword

Just a quick Melinda character piece.

Sometimes, on the nights where Melinda is restless and lets them in, the dreams come. Old memories, very old, but as clear as if they were yesterday.

A sword in her hand and a song in her heart. Grown men falling around her. The cries of the dying and the taste of blood on her tongue.

The savage, joyous grin she can still feel on her face.

On those nights, she gets up, makes a cup of the ridiculously strong coffee she is very particular about buying, and doesn’t sleep.

There are tales – ancient ones, from uneducated tongues – of the woman who carried a sword. She would arrive in a village, blood-soaked and unwashed, and ask for directions to the nearest tavern; when she found it, any man within who commented upon her presence would find a roughly-smithed dagger at his throat and a knee at his groin.

Any comments after the first were rare, and equally unappreciated.

She would stay for a night, or perhaps two, paying with apparently unearned gold, and then move on; but if the bandits, or the rich men with disrespectful eyes, wandering hands and a penchant for the village women happened to visit, she would kill them all, simply and brutally. Sometimes she would sing as she did it.

The next morning, she would be gone, after leaving only a coin, “for the furniture and the practice”.

Melinda looks out of the window, watching the street. She remembers the sounds of the German bombs; kneeling in the mud, in the hastily-built shelter…

She shakes her head. 1947, she reminds herself. The war is over, and she left Britain two years ago.

She swallows and puts her coffee down, picking up her revolver. Army-issue – she called in a favour from an old friend. She reloads it, the motion now natural to her, and aims it at a wall, hoping she’s not too rusty and feeling the weight of it.

Nothing like the weight of a blade, but for now, it’s enough.

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