This assignment was to write a story about anything but a hospital using ten words that describe, or are normally associated with, hospitals. I have underlined the words I used.
This story is based on a scene from Fiennes’ film Onegin.
Quietly, fearfully, she walked towards the lake. The trees, rising on either side of the path she followed, cast blue shadows over her white face. She pulled her shawl closer around her shoulders, shivering more from fear than cold, and slowed her walk. She was near the edge of the woods. A barbed needle of dread pricked her heart as her wide eyes traveled over the sloping lawn at the lakeside and the pier that ran out over the mist-covered waters. Four men stood upon the far end. Reflected back from the sterile gray mist that blanketed the water, a cold light gleamed from the hands of two of them. Light shining off the muzzles of two loaded pistols.
She started, and stepping behind a tree, looked on in terror as the men with the pistols turned their backs on each other and walked to opposite ends of the pier. Their companions, acting as seconds to the duel, carefully measured off the distance with slow paces, pausing to give instructions and encouragement to the duelers. Harsh wires of alarm sprang alive in the young woman’s mind. Her thoughts raced, frantic. No! Dueling – he’ll be killed, I know it – Olga – what will I tell her – Evgeny can’t – Evgeny! Here her mind stopped abruptly, and her gray eyes fixed immovably on the figure farthest to the right. …He wouldn’t…
Dimly she saw the two duelers salute each other and take their stances, separated by a mist of hesitation, regret, and incomplete anger. Faintly she heard the whistle blown by one of the seconds. She watched two pairs of hands cock the pistols as though from a world away. Slowly the muzzles were lowered, until they pointed their cruel, unflinching mouths towards each other. The men began to advance. With increasing horror the young woman, scarcely more than a child, tore her eyes away from the firm, unwavering, yet regret-filled figure on the right and flew to the other man. He stood trembling, terrified and unresolved. His steps wavered and he paused, still far from his opponent, whose firm, sure steps halted as well. No.
He would not do it. She knew he would not do it. Evgeny could not be so cruel. Those kind, handsome dark eyes could not harbor such unfeeling disregard for his friend. His friend! Those two, the duelers, had stood in comradeship not many days before. What had happened? One dance, that was all. Why had Evgeny done it? She could not understand. How could he, the man she loved, dare to cause such pain in his friend? How could he dare to dance with Olga while her lover watched, jealousy blossoming in his heart? If He killed him, if Evgeny killed Vladimir…He would not. He could not. Impossible. He would lower the gun, any moment now. He would realize the stupidity, apologize, make Vladimir understand. It was only one dance…
She watched, frozen in place, torn between love and revulsion. She could see Vladimir’s pistol shaking in his hand. Her thoughts jumped in her head. No, Vladimir! No! Don’t kill him…you cannot kill him. Why? The hesitation in Vladimir’s eyes gave way to forced resolution. His shuddering hand squeezed the pistol. The young woman hid her face in her shawl. Evgeny’s eyes narrowed.
A gunshot ricocheted across the lake, bouncing cruelly in the misty silence. She screamed, but no one heard. Vladimir stood, shock, shame, and repentance written across his face. Evgeny blinked. The shot had gone wide. The young woman collapsed against the tree, sure of Evgeny’s response. He will end it now. Put away the gun… The duelers stood motionless on the pier.
The lines of Evgeny’s gentle face grew hard as stone. His eyes lost their warmth and became cold as ice. A burning rage covered the regret in his form. He raised his pistol and stepped forward. Vladimir’s eyes filled with confusion, but he did not flinch. Staring into the face of his opponent, Evgeny pulled the trigger.
The young woman ran as though her heart were on fire, back towards the house. Her shawl snagged on a branch and fell from her shoulders. She did not notice. She hardly realized where she was. She reeled, staggering with shock, her world broken by what she had seen. Blood, washing the pier, pouring into the lake – Death – He’s dead. He killed him. Evgeny – Evgeny, what have you done – A doctor – no, too late. I saw him fall. Vladimir – Olga! Dead, Olga, he’s dead. Cruel Evgeny, you liar! You were his friend – friend – does it mean nothing to you? Friendship, love, do you have a heart? Have I been deceived? Why, why, why – Blood – a lake of blood – I loved you. Never. I hate you Evgeny, I hate you! I cannot hate you. Never, ever come back. Coward, cruel, heartless! Evgeny, how could you?
Back in the house. Sobbing, screaming, shaking. Olga confused, unregistering. But I saw it, I saw it, he’s dead. Dead! Evgeny killed him, killed his friend, killed Vladimir. Killed your love, Olga. Killed your heart! Don’t you understand what this means?
Olga sank, rigid with grief. The young woman screamed, again and again, not comprehending the tears that poured down her face. Evgeny, her Evgeny, a killer. A wound so deep no medicine could heal it opened in her breast. With time her tears would dry, her horror pass, her confusion fade…but now, before her eyes, a lake of blood thrashed in stormy winds. A man, firm of step and proud of bearing, stood upon the waters, pistol raised high in triumphant cruelty. Her broken heart sank beneath his feet.