Small Good Things | Teen Ink

Small Good Things

June 30, 2017
By marievans56 BRONZE, Westbury, New York
marievans56 BRONZE, Westbury, New York
2 articles 0 photos 2 comments

In the mines the men are mostly grouped together, sweating side by side as they smash into the into the black rocks that made up the walls of the mine. With one dust filled breath after another they continued to search for a sign of the ever rare blueiron ore. A precious metal use by prominent knights to forge their weapons and armors. For every man who worked this mine finding an ore vein could make all their dreams possible, however there was a young man who knew better than to look for his dreams in a dirty mineshaft. His name was Duncan a young man of 19 years, he was short with thick muscles and a layer of fat that sat on top. As usual dirt covered his face and arms, previously it would even be in his hair so he gave his head a low shave.
He wore the same grey tunic and trousers as the rest of the miners with his flute ever fastened to his belt.  He had been working the mines going on 5 years now. When he first started he would run food and water down to the men. He knew the names of almost all of them and they knew his, but that is as far as it went in terms of a connection between them. Duncan never grew close to any of the men the in mine or even the village for that matter. He would stay by himself in his corner chipping away at the rocks with dull lifeless movements.

Today however, was very different. Duncan had a certain energy about him, he moved almost as if he was ready burst into dance. He even wore a smile on his round dirt smeared face. “Duncan, duncan!” a voice called out to him from behind. Duncan stops mid swing and turns, behind him stands a large fleshy man with coffee colored skin and a bushy beard that was mix of grey and black. “We’re done for today” the miner said through grime yellow teeth. Duncan nods and the man did the same before leaving. While leaving the mines Duncan greets everyone with a cheerful smile. From the miners themselves, to the almost men who cleared the mine of rubble, and even the children who brought food to the men. They all looked at him as if it were their first time seeing him, but he didn’t see them though, not really. He walks over to the shed where the men kept their pickaxes and he places his in a barrel with the rest of them. The shed that housed their equipment was no more secure than the barrel itself. When the ash winds blew from south the shed would sway like a dancer's skirt. Normally after leaving the mine he would head home to rest until nightfall. Instead he went straight into town to its only inn.

Upon reaching the inn he stops at the door and dusts himself off in an attempt to look some what presentable. He took a deep breath then walks inside. His eyes immediately look for the counter, and the person behind it. She was no mere tavern wench at least not in his eyes. Her name was Lya she was slightly taller than Duncan. She had shoulder length auburn hair which she kept tucked behind one ear as she wiped dust from a worn down counter. When she was done she smiled as if she could see her reflection in the dull run down wood. Duncan walked over to the counter with a bit off a spring in his step. “You look lovely today,” Duncan said to lya while he tries to get his flute free from his belt. When Lya looks up at him, then inspects him from head to toe.

“As do you,” she replies with a chuckle. Duncan smiles  somewhat awkwardly as he fiddles with the flute in his hands. “So did you think of another tune today while you were down in the mines,” Lya asks as she leans forward on the counter.

“I did.” Duncan replies awkwardly almost stumbling over the words as he speaks them.

“Well, are you going to play it for me,” she says playfully.

“Um...yes, but not right now. Later when you’ve finished your work here, I’ll play it for you down by the river,” Duncan’s confidence was with him now, he began speaking more boldly. Lya looks at him puzzled.
“Hmm…it must be a lovely song,” she says hesitantly.

“So I shall see you tonight then?” He says as he made his way to the door. She responded with a simple nod and a small smile. Later that night, after Duncan had washed all the grime from his body, he made his way down to the river. He was wearing his best clothes, a white cotton tunic with a smooth brown trousers his flute still fastened to his belt. He had perfumed himself with a bottle of scented cedar oil that he was saving. On one arm he carried a small basket filled with cheese, bread and a skin of warm brown ale. As he made his way closer towards the river he saw Lya already sitting there waiting patiently. Duncan paused for a moment before approaching, he noticed how the moonlight had placed a certain sparkle in her eye. She was wearing the same light blue dress that she had been wearing earlier that night covered by her serving apron, which hugged her tight, showing all of her curves. As Duncan got closer she turned her head to him and greets him with a amiable smile. Duncan answered with a bright smile of his own and sits down beside her on the river bank. As Duncan sat down Lya turns her eyes towards the flowing waters of the river. Duncan places the basket in between Lya and himself. He then places his hands on top of the basket and exhales sharply. “Lya before I play my song for you there is something I feel I must say to you.” As Duncan began speaking Lya looked at him with solemn eyes. “Do you remember when I first played my songs in the tavern,” he asked.

Lya grinned and said, “I do, my father wanted to throw you out after you started playing.”

“Him and everyone else in there,” Duncan replies. “Everyone, except for you, you said my music was sweat,” duncan says almost in a whisper.

Lya laughed softly “I was somewhat tone deaf in those days wasn’t  I.”

“No, you just have a kind heart, you always have,” Duncan says as his hand slowly slid over towards her’s. “It’s what makes you so very beautiful,” the tips of his fingers had barely grazed her’s before she pulls away suddenly.

“Duncan, stop,” Lya says as she withdrew herself from him. “Duncan I know what you mean to say, but for the sake of our friendship I would ask that you do not say it.” Each word she spoke was like a small shard of ice piercing Duncan's body. Their paralyzing chill had left him frozen, his lips qwivered in search of some words, any words that might help him now.

“But Lya, I love you,” Duncan manages to squeeze out hopelessly. Lya slowly rose to her feet, mud stained on the ends of her light blue dress. Duncan watched her as she stood over him, with her arms crossed almost trembling as he was. The corners of her eyes were wet with the anticipation of tears, but with a breath Lya hardened. She squeezed her eyes together and shook her head.

“I love you,” she said, the words narrowly escaping her throat. Duncan could feel feel his heart, beat again. “But no,” the words came harshly to Duncan. Lya then walks off into the misty night air. Duncan still sitting by the river being crushed by the weight of his world collapsing in on him. He stares at the waters in front of him, and for a moment he even considered falling in and just letting the waters wash everything away. In that moment he rests his hands by his side, and accidentally brushed against his flute. Duncan pulls it free from his belt. He held the dull piece of wood in his hands and ran his fingers over the various holes. A small grin finding a way to his face and fading, before playing the lovely tune.

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