Check-Mate

Check-Mate

12 mins 12.8K 12 mins 12.8K

Let me take you back eras ago, when the sky was blue and minds simpler. When prince charming and pretty damsels had Dark and White kingdoms to rule and conquer, like goodness and evil battling it out in the 64 squares of a chess game.

Joseph heaved a sigh and walked into the morning bustle of the market trying to have a nice day whistling to himself, despite the vendor’s calls drowning his mild tunes as they try to sell anything and everything at the Friday market fair.

The market is raving with sales from morning through noon as maidens dressed in pretty long frocks holding umbrellas for shade, judge which pan would give a better company to the pots in their lavish kitchen and tall hulky men in shirts and trousers get their shoes shined and buy brown boots and leather wallets supposedly brought from distant towns, to add to their collection.

Joe moves towards a shop selling hats and bags made of hay and decorated with bits of mirrors and painted by someone who knew how to make their strokes sing. A lovely little shop with a hat-shaped roof and hay interiors, obvious about its temporary setup just for the Friday fair just so that people can have such pretty handicraft reminding them of the little beautiful things in life.

‘I wanted a sturdy looking hat’, he thought and let his hands touch the impressive hay work that pleased him in some mysterious way. “How much for this small purse?”  Sang a voice like a sweet tone. Joe stole a glance and caught her eyes. He didn’t comprehend the rationale behind it, but it was impossible to take his eyes away from the honeyed hazel gaze that seemed to pin him down to the ground, then. She came out as the stronger one and looked away leaving a faint pink hue on her cheeks.

‘She looks like a pretty flower’, he thought, his eyes refusing to look away from her face lingering on to her reddish rose lips and on to the black elegant gown she is adorning. “That is a first, no man has ever made me blush like this before.” she chimed making his heart pound loud and glided in to the shop.

‘What is happening to me?’ he scolded himself and turned his attention to the hay hat that he thought of buying. On his way out he walked up to the girl in the black dress, tipped his newly bought hay hat in a smooth gesture and said “pardon me for making you blush miss but, you should know that…it was a first for me too.” She turned to address him, ‘there is that blush again’, he smiled to himself in surprise. She lifted those big eyes to look at his face, “here is an enquiry, is your heart pounding under your chest to like a church bell on a Sunday mass too, or is it just me? Because frankly I can’t hear a thing but it.”

They gave blushed smiles to each other with their hearts skipping at the same beat sharing a moment together, another first; to be able to share something as subtle as a smile and heartbeats with another. 

They unraveled each other with their eyes softly touching every detail of the other layer after layer, amused.

Silence mulled over his thoughts as anticipation mirrored in her eyes from his face. “If I may, can I have the pleasure of walking you around the fair. You seem like enjoying a runaway tale, despite the fact that you are lost. Am I right?’               

“You seem to be a keen observer.”

 “Oh, only of the finest things that have a sense of stunning beauty, much like what my eyes are relishing right now”, he said gently caressing her face with his looks.

She gave him her gloved hand to lead and Joe walked her out of the hay shop and into the rush and bustle of the fair. Leading his way, he marveled her with his insights on many things and in return she gave him her name; Rosella.

 “Rose”, he breathed in with passion and her eyes fluttered adhering to the strong sensation that was washing over Joe and Rose, at that fair on that Friday.

He heard her story of wanting to walk away from all that she ever dreaded of becoming her destiny; she never wanted to be known as the minister’s wife. Joe tried to tone down her concerns in the backdrop of the fair and offered her everything he ever had, another first for him.  

“It would be a crime if I do not acknowledge what I am feeling for you, Rose” Joe went on politely as he took off his hay hat, “I am mesmerized by your strength and I have to confess that you are the most beautiful thing that my eyes have had the pleasure of seeing. I am indeed struggling to contain my emotions for you and what I feel…”  

Joe never got to finish his sentence.

Rose had her finger on his lips as she inched closer and whispered, “you make me dream about things I never thought I could ever hope for, I feel stronger and invincible just with you by my side and what more I can look into those eyes of yours and feel beautiful any day. You are my handsome knight. Now if I may…” and she stood on her tiptoes and held on to Joe’s shoulders as her lips touched the corner of Joe’s mouth softly placing a ghost of a kiss.

Without letting her move away, Joe held her closely. His hands touching her on the back breathing in her alluring scent and he bent down to touch her lips with his. Passion and senses took over as they pressed against each other and Rose clenched onto Joe’s shirt as their mouths devour each other. There, at the end of that Friday fair’s path stood Joe and Rose holding each other, closely locked in a spell as their lips made conversation.

The sun had few hours before it had to hide into the ocean and both Joe and Rose had lives to get back to.

In those times, community was the biggest force to reckon with and it bridged the differences of two kingdoms easily. What Joe had to decide was to let go of this breath of fresh air that swooped into his otherwise dry, dreading but valiant army life, slaving away as a proud soldier of the White Kingdom. Rose, as her words said, had a wedding to attend to where, she was doomed to walk down the aisle in a white dress and kiss a total stranger.

‘Kiss’, she thought and blushed again remembering Joe’s lips on hers.

“I seem to make you blush rather a lot, I am hoping it’s for the right reasons”, Joe said holding her close.                                                                                                          “I wish I could stay in your arms forever”, she sighed and went on. “Instead I get to save a kingdom in a week.” Rose said putting herself completely into Joe’s arms to give him a final embrace.

“I beg you of your time. Please come and meet me on this very spot in two days before I go on to wage the Great War”, “Never will I ask you of anything but this. You make me want to live, but alas life in your absence is better fought at war”, Joe’s head hung down in despair.    

Breaking free from him reluctantly, Rose held his bowed head in her hands and breathed, “Noble are you, who’d live, or rather die for your kingdom. And so shall I do, to save mine. We love in our separation, together in the sweet agony of sacrifice. ”

Tears were shy to interrupt the two souls weeping away in silence. That day, Joe fought his hardest battle yet; to let her go.                                                                       

 'Until the sun rises for us, on the third day from now’. She promised him with a chaste kiss on his cheek.                                                                                                     

The girl in black dress hid away into the horizon as the sun joined her in the twilight, leaving Joe to kneel on his knees and hurt silently in the dark shadows. That night, a White Knight wept away in the dark as a Dark Knightress felt his pain, miles away in a kingdom where the Dark forces dwelled.    

Rose took out her sword and wailed in despair thinking of her White Knight.

The sun graced the earth with its golden glory impartially, in spite of the white and the dark. And so was it agony for both, to let the sunsets and sunrises keep them apart in betrayal of anything that even resembled reasoning.

 Joe yearned to breathe her in. ‘I can’t seem to believe this cruel joke. Life let me touch such beauty, witness such elegance and feel such strength in the weakness of vulnerability… with the ardent promise of death waiting patiently at the end of a Dark Knight’s sword for me.’                                                                                                             

Joe was born a warrior and lived like one, but knew that there was no way the White Army was going to win over the Great War. The darkness has already set its teeth into the kingdom. Attack seemed the only defense.       

“All that is to be done is to stare death in its face and let our courage do the talking. Play with it dangerously if you must, to keep it at bay for as long as we can, while the kingdom finds its way out of this Dark plague.”, he commanded his army in scintillating valor and cold blood, marking death as the enemy and an absolute ultimatum.

The sun was waking up lazily as Joe stared at the bloody orange and crimson streaks painted to perfection onto the vast canvas above him. He waited for the light to feed on the darkness so that he could see Rose again.’ Rose, it’s our day.’ Joe whispered in to the morning. Waiting. Waiting to touch her, knowing that only death can stop him from having her, to feel her beauty like nothing else could even begin to measure up.

 ‘I am glad to see a White Knight admiring the dark, though it’s almost dawn.’

‘My lady, I could barely hold guard of my senses when the sun set yesterday. Knowing that I could be in your presence when I see it again, made my night.’  Joe looked into those eyes and sighed, “Rose… you came.”

‘I wanted your hands on me while we watch the dawn together.’ she said and closed in on the distance that separated the two souls for the last two sunsets.

That dawn witnessed Joe and Rose feel each other's anticipated desire, in awe. Joe grabbed her closer, his body against hers. He kissed her cheekbones and went on to feel her short breathes along the neck line as her hands unbuttoned his shirt. He unzipped her gown and caressed her abode with his eyes as she stepped out of it. Fingertips touching and feeling all it could as carnal instincts took over all rationale.                                                                                                                                   

Joe had never felt such greed, such desire, such passion that made Rose scream with blinding pleasure and drank away her pain. He let himself get lost in her abode as she cradled him onto her chest. Heaving heavily both Joe and Rose took apart each other with their bare hands catering to the intense rawness of this blaze.

 Joe did have his hands on Rose that dawn, when two souls kindled up such blazing passion that defied all laws of desire.

Rose breathed in the morning scent, the sun too came out naked like the two Knights, from beneath the horizon breaking apart clouds. She lay in Joe’s arms as he brushed her curls way from her face, grazing her temple, gently running his hands along her eyes lashes and touching her red lips. She kissed his touch as he bend down to kiss her.                                                                                                             

‘You are mine. And I, yours.’ His passion echoing hers as the two Knights fought to gift each other their burning love.

‘Any White Knight may adhere to the most insane fallacies of darkness, to be with you. Rose, my love for you defeats me.’

‘Reasons fail me Joseph, every time you touch me. No man can own me like you do.’

“Why?”

His dilemma spoke out seeking reasons beyond reasoning. They wanted each other so much that neither differences nor reasons could keep them apart. Why did Joseph have death as his ultimatum? Why should Rose ever be another man’s but his? Joseph was never a man of reasons.

“For them.” said Rose answering her beloved’s dilemma, his heart whispering to hers. She broke away from his intent gaze and gathered her gown, all the while aware of her conscience betraying her of any courage she could muster. ‘I should say goodbye.’ She murmured as pain found its way into her voice.

Joe grabbed her shoulders attempting to not let her go, but all Rose did was sigh and turn away, hiding her tears. She had to leave her Knight so that she can wage a war of her own, in her Dark Kingdom.

“For them. Why us?” he reasoned with her reason, again.

She glanced up at him; a dangerous fear lurked in those eyes. Her lips parted, but no voice came out. Regret was etched on her face and she gave out a shiver as she turned away from her beloved, again.

“I beg you to not ever regret having my hands on you. I could not have stopped myself if I wished to. You are so beautiful and you are always my Rose. I ...”

Joe couldn’t finish his sentence, once again.

 Rose kissed him goodbye. “My valiant Knight shall defeat death, if not with love. I only regret not ever being able to see another dawn in your arms. Please remember, my reasons may betray you but not my love.”

“My White Knight, you gave me a heart to cherish and that alone I shall do. I must say goodbye for I must……” Rose choked back pain and walked away from a shattered warrior who craved his love to look beyond her reasons. “Rosella…” he breathed trying to remember that beautiful dream which woke him up and walked out of his life, that dawn.

‘………for I must wage a war too as the commander of the Dark Knights that I am. Joe, forgive me for falling in love with you. But I have my Dark Kingdom to fight for. My reasons may betray you, but not my love.’                                                                                                                                       Just like the Dark Queen who had the White King at check-mate, she whimpered in silence miles away from her Joseph who would have let NO reason take his Rose away from him.

“For Us.”                                                                                                                                                                                              

‘My Dark Knightress, you should have stayed for us.                                                                                                                                    

I knew you were my enemy as I saw a daring commander when I first saw your hazel eyes in that hay shop but beyond that, I saw you.                                                                                                                              

Your Kingdom could have been ours, if only you had stayed.’

But you left. ‘For them’. “Oh Rose, my love for you defeats me.” Joe cried in pain.

 Hurt, broken and burned by their own love, in a universe where pain cannot even begin to make sense, still lives the White and the Dark Knight. Apart in sadness of a love that burned too strong for the likeness of their realms, owing their separation to none but them; Joseph and Rosella.

“We love in our separation, together in the sweet agony of sacrifice.”                                                        


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