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The Love…The Second Time Around Celebration dovetails with the theme of JL Campbell's soon-to-be-released novel, Retribution. I'm helping her celebrate by submitting a story of people taking another shot at a relationship. There will be voting and prizes, and there is still time to submit, so go HERE for more information.
(The following is my flash fiction piece that takes place on an alternate Earth. I also have to admit that I exceeded the 500 word count limit and understand if this disqualifies me. I didn't have the time to edit out 100+ words but still hope you enjoy the entry nonetheless.)
"Eighty-four days," she said with her back still turned to him. "That is how long you have been gone. I didn't think you would ever return."
He closed the heavy wooden door to their bedchamber before speaking. "I'm sorry my love, but it was necessary. I was furious at you and afraid I would destroy the entire castle. I needed time away to think."
"Where did you go?" she prodded.
"To Sherwood for advice."
"Sherwood!" Heat rose into her cheeks as she spun to look at him for the first time in weeks. "You spent all that time with Robyn Hode and his Merry Men doing . . . I don't even want to imagine what, while I sat here all alone, waiting for you and wondering if you'd ever come back to me?”
“I didn't leave you alone, Guinevere. I made sure Sir Lancelot stayed to keep you safe.”
“Well Sir Lancelot proved to be a very kind and gentile knight with an enormous heart, more than I can say for his King.”
“Do you still not understand the gravity of the situation? What you did has damaged my reputation and caused tremendous confusion.”
"Oh Arthur, you are so melodramatic. It's just a sword and I'm sure Merlin can fix it.”
“It’s not just a sword,” he growled. It's Excalibur, and Excalibur is not supposed to be pink!” He slid the weapon from its sheath to demonstrate his point. Not that he needed to. The bright pink glow that engulfed their bedchamber was a painful reminder of a spell gone wrong. Ashamed, Guinevere turned her gaze away from the sword, but the pink glow cast its light onto everything she laid her eyes on. "Tell me how can I possibly be taken seriously by any man, if I am to charge into battle wielding this?”
Guinevere fought the tears that threatened to flee down her face. “I don't know what went wrong,” she admitted. “I followed Merlin's instructions perfectly and then asked the question word for word of what you loved most in the world. The spell was supposed to make the sword reflect your true desires."
"So that explains your odd question that nigh."
"Yes, but that . . . " Guinevere said, gesturing to a weapon that had now lost all prestige and dignity, "was not the surprise I had intended. In my mind, the spell was supposed to garnish the hilt or engrave words of wisdom into the blade. I wanted to make it truly unique to where no man could ever refute the true ownership of the sword."
Shaking his head, King Arthur slid the sword back in its sheath and the room regained its normal color. "Do you know what I thought of when you asked that question?" he said. Guinevere eyes widened. She turned to Arthur and shook her head. "I thought of you the night of my birthday. You surprised me with that little pink, lace-up French corset." Guinevere cupped her hand over her mouth but couldn't stop the giggle that escaped her throat. "I guess I should be grateful the whole damn thing didn't turn into a giant undergarment."
Laughter erupted from both Guinevere and Arthur and they drank in the sound with relief and healing. She ran into his arms and he received her delicate frame with a feeling of joy he hadn't felt in eighty-four days.
Looking up at her King Guinevere said, “Let’s go to Merlin right now, I’m sure he can fix Excalibur.”
King Arthur smiled as he traced the contour of her nose and lips with his finger. "Do you still have that corset?" he asked.
Guinevere bit her lower lip and said, "I do."
"Then I think Merlin can wait until tomorrow."