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NOVEMBER 1999 | VOL. 3, NO. 11



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Past harms torture the music and the love of a young woman

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Measure of Distance | Sheldon A. Miller



HOLLY DAY, a diverse writer of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, is a contributing writer for Renaissance Online. Her work has appeared in Palace Corbie and Mixdown Magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, MN.


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By the Side of the Sea

HOLLY DAY

The Dying Gaul had finally managed to push himself upright. His eyes focused on the walls of what had once been a magnificent art gallery, now reduced to a heap of rubble. One of the Three Fates had pulled herself away from the frieze in which she had been trapped and was sitting across from him, perched on a pile of twisted metal and rock.

"You've been hurt," she said, shaking her head.

"I was made that way," he answered, carefully raising his hand up to his side. There was a thick sludge of gray blood running down the platform on which he was displayed. He felt the wound carefully, pulling out the sharp spearhead that for centuries he had suspected must be there. He grunted with the effort, eyes squeezed shut with pain. When he reopened his eyes, he and the Fate were sitting in the middle of a green field, the remains of the museum buried beneath a hundred years of mud slides and rain.

"Do you feel better now?" she asked, the sun rising and setting at an impossible speed behind her. Her face was crinkled up with concern.

"Oh, yes." He sighed and tried to stand. He was incredibly weak. She got up and walked toward him, the grass dying and being reborn beneath her feet. By the time she reached him, the world was a desert as far as his eyes could see. She put his arm around her shoulder and pulled him to his feet. He leaned against her body, grateful she had been made so large. She ripped off a piece of her robe and tied it around his waist to staunch the flow of blood.

"I hope that helps," she said. They walked on for a while, neither of them sure where they were going. Both had been imprisoned for so long - she with her Sisters, he with his injury - that just the simple act of walking was enough for now. Behind them, chasms yawned wide and snapped shut, mountains bloomed and fell to nothing, stars streamed like fireworks in the night sky. Creatures evolved to the point of claiming the statues their own creations, then died out to be replaced by others.

The Dying Gaul and the Fate walked on, ignoring the galleries built up around them where they stood, always reaching the far wall long after the structure fell completely apart. They finally came to the shore of a great tumultuous ocean, the fires of a thousand sunrise sunsets flickering blood-red on the churning waters. The Dying Gaul was strong enough to walk by himself now, but still held onto the Fate's arm. Boulders broke into sand beneath their feet.

"This look like a good place to stop," he said. The Fate smiled in agreement and held the Dying Gaul steady while he lowered himself to the ground. She sat beside him, stretching her legs out until her sandaled feet almost touched the water.

Behind them, civilization was built and destroyed and rebuilt. The moon disappeared completely from the night sky, and the days grew longer and hotter as the Earth was drawn closer to the sun. The Dying Gaul put his arm around the Fate and tried to pull her closer. And after a few centuries of resistance, she finally smiled and leaned into his body, the top of her head resting against his cold stone chest.

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