Into the Light
A man from the shadows rescues a woman made of light.
Tropes – Forbidden Romance
The girl from Upendi walks by. He smiles.
She brings her light this way once a day. As she passes, she illuminates the dirty, cracked streets and run down storefronts. Some say the Gods blessed her family in payment for past good deeds. Others say her family caught too much radiation when the bombs dropped. They say her bioluminescent blood is poison.
He thinks she is radiant. Her light shines from every pore. Even her eyes glow in the dark.
While the rest of the world makes due with candles and firelit torches, she’s never spent a day in the dark. What must the world look like from her perspective?
As she passes, he smiles but she doesn’t see. Her guard sees him and he glares.
Suddenly, a shot rings out. The guard goes down. Two black-clad men run towards the sunshine. She tries to get away but they’re faster, fueled by desperation.
He doesn’t hesitate as he pulls out his machete and runs towards the closest attacker, guts him from behind then turns to the next. The girl is screaming in his arms. This close, her light is almost blinding.
She elbows her attacker in the face and wrenches away. He takes the opening, lunges forward, and slits the man’s throat. When he turns back to the girl, she’s wide-eyed, panting on the ground. He puts away his weapon and holds out his hand. “You’re safe now.”
She eyes him up and down, taking in his ragged black cloak, burgundy vest woven with silver thread, and neat black trousers. Her stare lingers on his heavy black boots, too expensive for a commoner, and the silver shield embroidered over his left breast, the Blackwell crest. He leans closer, “I won’t hurt you.”
She takes his hand and lets him pull her close. “My father told me never to trust a mercenary.” It’s the first time he’s ever heard her speak. It’s deeper than he imagined but still delicate and light like an ocean breeze.
He smirks, “Your father’s never met me.” He glances up and down the vacant street. The usual crowd dispersed when the trouble started but they’ll be back soon. Scavengers. He pulls off his cloak and drapes it over her, dimming her light. He covers her face with the hood and tucks her close to his side. She tenses but doesn’t pull away. “Let’s get you home.”
They walk in silence, in and out of shadows, until they reach her castle on the hill. A 20th century Queen Anne-style mansion with fire-brick walls and bright yellow roofing. He walks her up to the dark green-painted iron fence. A fierce-looking guard spots them from the matching green veranda. They have seconds before he reaches them at the gate’s entrance.
She removes the cloak and hands it back to him. “Thank you for saving me. How can I repay you?” She gestures to the house. “What is your usual fee? My father can pay double.”
He steps away. Blending into the shadows with his cloak back on. “No payment necessary. Stay safe, Sunshine.”
“My name is Marissa.” She tucks a strand of spun gold behind her ear, as bright as the rest of her. She glances at the approaching guard then back at him, whispering, “Will I ever see you again?”
He gives her a sly grin, a twinkle in his moonlit eyes. “Oh, you’ll see me again. I’ll make sure of it.”