269 word flash. A love triangle, a duel--romance the length of a postcard.
It rang clear on the hilltop.
Darby stepped forward, the early morning mist wafting about him.
Another step. The gray tendrils suddenly slide sideways—zephyr blown.
Step. The tatters shift from dark to gold.
Step. The sun breaks through. Below a vista: deep greens, low hills—a lake, shimmering.
“It’s a matter of honor.”
Oh Lord, not honor. “Peter, I’ve no interest.”
“She prefers you.” So bright, so young, so beautiful—so…honest.
“I love another.”
“I’m sorry Darby. A matter of honor.” That word again. “I’ve gone too far, said too much—without this I’m a laughing-stock.” That’s your father’s pride talking.
“What have I to lose? I’ve lost already.”
“At dawn then?”
Birdsong burst forth from the vale below, a chorus to bless the sun. Alder leaves near the lakeshore flickered green-silver, green-silver. Beneath, a doe drank from the water. The last of the mist burned away like breath cooling on a chill day.
Darby gazed upon this vista unfolding beneath him, spreading his arms as though to embrace Nature itself. He felt swallowed whole.
He tilted his head back and turned, looking up at the sky. He felt the sun warm his face. He was suspended in a moment of rapture.
He leveled his head and saw Peter. Poor proud Peter, he thought, such earnest, golden, foolish youth.
Peter eyed him along his pistol, his dark blond hair tied at the nape of his neck with a blue ribbon. A light line of concentration split his forehead. His slate eyes looked startled.
From the undergrowth around the hilltop clearing a cloud of partridge blossomed.