Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Inkersole By Senshaye Deng

We had a pact, Inkersole and I. Secret, sworn with spit and blood. And screams and scars. That was Inkersole: red. He'd burn with fury so dangerous that his eyes were embers, his hair grey ash, even while the flames of the whip curled upon his ashen face. "Inkersole!" I'd scream when he fell back into our room. By night, in accordance to our pact, I took charge. I'd stand guard over his limp body and wait for the things to come cantering in on their nightly-mares. Swish. My sword bled ink upon the lack-lustre moon cut by the window. Shadows seeped across the pale face. They would retreat, come back again, I'd stab again. Again. Then daylight intervened.

Inkersole woke and stood at the right time. Always fastidiously neat, he would straighten his uniform at the mirror (winking when he saw me in the reflection) and briskly tug his sleeves over his bracelets of scarlet. "New day," he'd announce, to the empty room. The clouds would dip their fluffy white heads in assent. Smiling, he would leave his cell and trip down the stairs to where his breakfast and his father waited, both cold. "New day," he'd repeat, in a voice so bright that I could faintly hear it from afar. "New day."

I fought the monsters for him by night. He fought the monsters for me by day.

Sometimes when things were quiet, he'd tell me what he'd seen. They were nice, when he could, like the words his friends casually slipped into his hungry mind. "What is the worst kind of tea to make?" one once said, to him. Inkersole loved tea, especially with lots of milk and sugar, and he'd stared blankly at his friend until his friend chortled with laughter. "REALITY."

"But you wouldn't understand," Inkersole reflected, when we were up in our room again. "Since you haven't been." I didn't correct him: what I knew was worse. We would sit on the bare floorboards of the cell, listening as he spoke of hands tapping keys of painful music onto screens that locked his eyes. He spoke of games played with snakes, with ill-fated die on cardboard hearts. He spoke of the whip that curled each evening upon his ashen face.

Such eloquence, his speech of silence.

Yet he broke the pact, Inkersole. That morning, he let all the monsters in, while I watched helpless in the mirror, mourning. Oh, poor Inkersole. He hung, swung in the bitter breeze.

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