I wrote this story on my first ever University trip to the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. We were asked by our lecturers to find a piece of art that stands out to us. The Staffordshire Saxon was the first piece we saw as we walked in. And for some reason he stuck in my mind. I walked around for hours with my classmates until we came to the little classroom area they usually let primary school children use. People were abuzz with the photo's they'd taken and what they were going to write about. I knew from the first moment I saw him that I would write my piece about the Saxon.
We were given the choice of what to write, short story or a poem or even a pretend article from when a certain exhibit was discovered. I straight away got to writing. We had a certain amount of time to write the piece and then had to read what we had written. Classmates were stone-faced but the lecturers liked it and encouraged me to continue the piece further. And so, after many drafts, I submitted this to my lecturer. I can't remember what grade it got but from what I can remember she liked it.
I hope you enjoy it too.
The Staffordshire Saxon
I’m lucky to be alive. The battle was bloody, long and tiresome. A man’s strength was tested that day. Some made it out with me but they were lost to the elements.
I now walk this road alone.
It’s raining and has been for the past three days. The cold air makes my bones freeze, but I daren’t remove my armour for fear the Norman scum will attack again. I must resist the temptation. My boots are layered with thick mud from this road I now take. Each step feels as though I am waging a battle on my own limbs.
My right arm, bloody from a deep cut on my upper arm… feels even weaker from wielding my heavy sword from sun up until the clouds gathered and the heavens opened. I can feel the dirt inside my bloodstream, and I have nothing to stop it. It is infectious and deadly. My left arm is… cut to pieces from the leather straps that held my shield to my body. It is battered, splintered and chipped from the arrows and swords it fought. My legs ache; as though I’ve just run up the highest hills in England, much like the green-grey ones that surround this lonely road now. The mud continues to gather, making the task of walking… more difficult.
The heavy, persistent rain that batters my helmet sounds like the running of rats on the piles of coins my friends and I counted before we… lost. My quiver seems to grow heavier by the second as the leather becomes, saturated from the shower and tries desperately to fill itself before surrendering to the bad stitching connecting the bottom to the walls. What light there is, is fading fast and what remains is casting a horrible shadow over the hills, tricking the fatigued mind into believing it is a later time than it is.
There is no human life, no animals and… no hope. I must keep walking to find some but the grassy mud slides look soft and warm, even in the pouring rain. I can do it. I can resist no longer.
I sit on the sodden grass and instantly, I can feel the relief my feet so begged for before. I take my longbow off my back, and an arrow from my quiver. The last time I did this I was taking a man’s life, now I am saving mine. I admire the arrow, its different artwork and look. This arrow is not one given to me by my commander, but an enemy who missed his target. Me. I nock the arrow to the bowstring and, rest it on my lap, in front of my shield which rests against my chest. I lay my head back carefully so it won’t fall off my shoulders, and concentrate on the pain in my arm. So much pain. The urge to sleep is overwhelming but I must fight it.
The sky is still pale with light grey but the world darkens around me. I close my eyes, never to open them again.