Wednesday, May 30, 2012
“His Majesty is having a rest! I’ve an order not to let anybody in.” Heard from behind the tent cover, the young voice of the guard officer is so emotional that nearly slipping in falsetto.
“I’ll be waiting here… in the chair. You may not announce my coming. I won’t make noise, I promise.”
His voice! He’s returned! Great Gods! At long last. I am so happy that nearly run out to meet him despite the poignant pain in my leg and the last long sleepless night. I wonder how much I have slept. The endless columns of figures, those estimates, reports, petitions, messages… I hate all this! My eyes must be red like a white mouse’s. I get slowly up and take a seat to look at myself in the looking-glass. A scarecrow. Pale, thin, unshaven, with the disheveled hair. Looking like this, how can I come out to him?! Why he never sent a messenger? Is anything wrong there? My heart is throbbing, I’m in hurry, and the comb gets entangled in my long locks. Gritting teeth, I struggle with my desire to take a sharp knife. Oh dear! If it were not for you, I would cut off all the mess on my head! Failing setting my hair, I’ll disentangle it, at least.
Now, the third voice is heard from behind the tent cover. It’s Cassander, “How cheeky you are! You’ve been said that he’s having a rest! Why have you dragged yourself here? We enjoyed being without you.”
“Ably.” The calm reply is heard. “I’m so interested in your point of view, Cassander. Next you have to say how much you love me.”
“I’ll say if someone wishes…” the distinct sound of an unsheathed sword makes me draw up.
“You have a new sword? Most interesting. Can you use it?” Hephaestion’s voice rings with notes of scorn. “Be careful lest you cut yourself. Virtually, you should ask your father’s permission to use this sharp thing or else you can get it in the neck for taking his things without asking.”
A tense silence falls. I know it’s but altercation which cannot result in anything serious, but every time I hear of the bad blood I have to suppress my wish to rush upon and give a good shaking to “the dearest of my friends who has been brought up with me and shares all my secrets.”
“You are right, Hephaestion,” Cassander’s voice sounds calmer now, “Where should a king’s mat be but not under his master’s foot.”
“If there is anything enviable. I’m a general and not a hetaera!”
“Roughly. You hit below the belt… Cassander.”
Silence again. I pull on my woollen tunic. Not got used to wearing pants, I have to wear this garment in order to hide the bondage on my bad leg; besides, it’s much warmer, for I feel cold all alone, since recently. Checking up the knot of the pants, I mentally curse the high boots which I’ll have to lace. Wincing I pull on one boot. My ankle is swollen and the back presses on the wound. Oh Gods! Lame in one leg, how will I be walking today? Succeeding in lacing the boots somehow, I stand up and nearly fall down with the poignant pain. Sending to Tartar the boots, which have become too tight, I pull them away and for several minutes my feet have to get accustomed to the sense of freedom. The pain pulses but passes off; my breath normalizes. I’ll have to walk over the frozen soil being barefoot--no matter--I won’t put on boots again.
I stand up saying to myself that the ache is bearable and the cold of the soil is not so awful as it seems at first. The several steps to the cover, which partitions off the other part of the tent, I make forcing myself to forget of my own legs, and my thoughts of him help me to succeed. He’s there and awaiting my coming! Carefully I move the folds of the cover apart.
Cassander is nowhere about. Hephaestion is sitting in the chair sideward to me. His heavy furred cloak is thrown onto the next chair. Stretching out his slender long legs and bending his head thoughtfully, he contemplates his right hand nails. The familiar long deep-red tunic and light leather panoply with cupper straps. His gauntlets are on his cloak and his Greek greaves still protect his lower legs. He looks weary. A stray lock from his hairdo tickles his cheek, and the gesture, oh so familiar, lets the lock through his fingers and puts it behind his ear. I’ve been missing him so badly that I feel giddy. I throw back the cover and step forward. “Hephaestion! I did not expect you today.”
Casting eyes up slowly and thoughtfully as though weighting my words, he stands up, makes a bow as though in presence of my all courtiers, then he stands straight, and I notice a shadow of a smile on his lips. But it’s only a shadow, and his eye is serious and bleak. Obviously, he is waiting for my permission to begin speaking--and I am beginning to get angry. Why to play? Why does he observe etiquette here and now? “I suppose the matter is pressing, otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting here, right after arriving.” My speech is calm but his coolness passes to me and begins ringing in my voice.
“Yes, my Lord,” the polity reply ensues.
“Well… What’s happened?”
“It’s all over with that.”
My heart sinks. He’s been at the secret talks with the council of the highland tribes. They should decide to take our side, otherwise we have months of blood-shedding arm conflicts ahead, and we could forget of continuation of our march. Now, he’s returned. “And so… What should we expect?”
“We? I don’t know. And you… You should expect the envoys, who are coming for making peace, the day after tomorrow. And today…” Hephaestion’s eyes burn with the blue flame of desire, “…my scolding for your walking barefoot, today, when it’s freezing hard, and…” he gets close to me and the rest of the phrase he breathes out into my mouth, “… the most hot sex my Lord could ever imagine.”
I can’t reply to his escapade, because his hot lips cover mine, my pulse rumbles in my ears, and my arms embrace his strong neck. He carries me in his arms without stopping the kissing. My last distinct thought is “Why did I dress with the excessive care?”
Lara Biyuts © 2011
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