Nothing but Watch
Once a year, a girl is placed onto a boat, and sent far away from her home and loved ones.
Those who stand on the beach and watch the boat disappear into the mist know little, but they know enough. As soon as their ship disappears, their girls are a good as dead.
But David didn’t want this. When his sister was Chosen, he had screamed and fought. The soldiers had to restrain him.
He watched her being seated in the boat with soldiers on either side of her, to make sure she wouldn’t do anything rash.
She was still so small. She had been premature, and even though he had only been 3 years old when she was born, he had recognised that she was too small. Then, her red hair had been wispy, but now it was a waterfall of curls down her back. Her face, normally flushed with happiness or, just as often, anger, was pale with fear. Her eyes wouldn’t meet his.
His mother stood beside him, sobbing openly as they stood on the shoreline, doing nothing but watch as their girl was shipped off to her death. There were no goodbyes allowed.
She sat in her pretty white summer dress, her small hands folded on her lap, her head down so her hair cascaded like a curtain to shield her face.
David’s heart tugged, and he took a step forward, but two massive hands held his arms, restraining him. He wanted to start shouting, start screaming as some often did, but he didn’t. He just watched.
David watched as her face lifted, and her eyes met his. They weren’t as scared as he imagined they would look - there was a fierce determination in there that surprised him.
The Isle - an isle of smoke and shadows and blood and death - was dangerous.
The King was worse than dangerous. The official cause for sending the girls was to appease him, stopping the King from sending his demons to the mainland.
David remembered his sister's story once, that the official story was wrong. The King was banished there, in her eyes, by a Goddess. To be a monster and live with monsters, until he fell in love. The girls were sent to him, hoping he'd fall in love with one.
His sister had felt sorry for the King, her own invented version. David had laughed then, but not anymore.
She was going to meet him. And find out, once and for all, if the King was a monster or her heart-broken handsome man she imagined.
David didn’t believe it, and wondered if she did, truly, or was just hoping for it to be true. But he wished it to be, for her sake.
She must have seen it, his hope and belief in her, and she smiled.
And then she was gone, disappearing into the mist.
Maybe, once day, if her fantasy was true, they would fall in love. And she might come back to him.
David stood and watched the empty grey water for a long time.