It was the very crack of dawn. The world had a harsh chill which bit deep into Albert’s hands as he walked out across the lawn. The gardens seemed far too bright. All of the colours seemed to glare under the sun and the dew gave things a slightly unreal sparkle.

Albert frowned for a moment before walking slightly faster. He didn’t want to think about what was about to happen. He could never do it if he dwelled upon it. He distracted himself with the scenery once again. The sky was completely clear with not a single cloud in sight. Rather, it was just a sweeping, vast expanse of blue. The edges faded to a bright, harsh white on the horizons whilst in the centre, above him, was shear blue. It was a blue so blue he could not even begin to describe its blueness. It was a blue more blue than any blue he had ever encountered and Albert had encountered many blues.

He shook his head, trying to focus. This was no time to dawdle and it was certainly no time to think nonsense about the sky. He was about to fight a duel. The word itself brought a heavy sadness to his heart. He wasn’t a violent man. He had always tried to remain calm and avoid conflict whenever he could but now... He sighed again. Love drove men to terrible deeds. Rounding a corner in one of the hedges he saw him there. They had once been friends, him and Thomas, but now they were to fight to the death.

Of course, it hadn’t been Albert or Thomas who had suggested the duel. Rather, it was Julia. They both loved her, she knew this. Her solution was a fight to the death. The victor would prove his worth, his strength and so could marry her.

The next few moments passed Albert in a blur. Thomas offered to weapons to Albert, who chose his pistol. They then strode apart...

CRACK

The sunlight seemed to dance on the heavy cloud of smoke. The dull grey obscuring his view for a moment before the gentle breeze swept it away. The recoil seemed to shake his entire body. He had even felt a rustling of the air as Thomas’ shot whipped past his ear. A close miss indeed.

Albert lowered his arm and looked at the crumpled heap where Thomas had stood. He felt empty inside. He did not approach Thomas. He could not bear it just now. He turned around and walked back towards the house so that he could tell Julia of the event.

Unfortunately when he got back to the house it turned out the duel had just been a ruse by Julia to get them both away while she packed her belongings and ran away with the stable boy. Something about him being “a larger man than either of them in the places where it counts”.

 


 

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