The Storm Master

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This is a short story I started last night.  The main characters are Leo Tolstoy and his wife, Sophia. 

The wind, mighty as a Viking king’s war boat, hammered the birches and spare pines of the estate.  Darkness thickened as the sun bowed low, Russia’s clouds seemingly coalescing directly about the Count’s house. 

Sophia stood on the porch, clinging to a wooden pillar.  Above the howl of the evil wind, she heard a tree moan, its cries undulating.  It seemed the  gusts delighted in the torture of wood.  The sky exploded and lit the forest beyond.  Sabres of lightening slashed once, twice. Thunder shook the boards on which Sophia stood, but nature was not satisfied with the terror that Sophia held within her heart.  Finally, the wind sought to end the pain of the groaning, unseen pine. The blusters redoubled their efforts and finally shattered the spine of the mighty tree.  The sound of the bursting pine drove Sophia to her knees.  Finally, a tear mixed with the rain on Sophia’s cheek.  Where was he?  Where was Leo? 

As if in mocking answer, a shadow, tiny as an ant, appeared at the edge of the cruel forest.  Even from this distance an observer could see the nobility in the form.  The long, gray beard, the energy in the gait.  As the figure drew nearer, the frequency and intensity of the lighting flashes seemed, to Sophia,  to quicken. 

Every time she saw Leo, it was as if it were a day in the first week that he’d courted her.  Oddly, she now felt more fear at her husband’s appearance.  Instead of worrying for his safety, she now worried that he would find displeasure in her.  That she had done something unknowingly in which Leo would find a measure of improperness. 

His food.  It may be cold.  Sophia spun on her heels and ran into the kitchen.  Leo ate only vegetables.  This required Sophia to prepare two separate meals; one for the seven children in the house and herself, and another for Leo.   The vegetable stew simmered and she felt relief at this.   She pulled a bowl from a cabinet and set it at the table, then added a spoon beside it.  She turned to run to the porch, but turned again back tot he table, straitened the spoon so that it was perpendicular to the edge of the table, then resumed her trip to the front door. 

By the time she was outside again, Leo’s face was clearly visible.  He stalked determinedly toward the house, a rifle slung on his shoulder, his breath visible in the chill, damp air.  There seemed to be no fear in him, no concern for the future or the past, only a stern concentration on what was immediately in front of him.  His sole reason for existing at this moment was in walking to the house.  It was so simple, and life was so clear to him.  Leo looked up at Sophia, but didn’t say anything.  He only walked.  The wind ripped at his beard.  But like a god, like Zeus, the wind’s master, he ignored it. 

“Leo Nikolayvich Tolstoy, where have you been?’, Sophia cried. 

Leo only kept walking and did not respond. 

“You didn’t tell me you’d left.  This storm is terrible and I worried almost to death about you.  The children worried, too.”

Still, Leo said nothing.  Finally his foot reached the steps of the porch and he climbed up with a dull grunt.  He stood still beside Sophia.  She looked at his lips and hoped they’d reach for hers; all of this would be solved with a kiss that would prove her adequacy, that would cement her place in his heart.  Leo’s steel eyes looked down at Sophia.  His eyes were so much younger than the rest of his face, and yet they were filled with the wisdom of a man who could be one thousand years old.  Only an immortal could know as much truth as Leo. 

There was a pause as Leo stood and stared at his wife.  “I’m a grown man.  I don’t have to tell anyone when I come and go from my own house.  I was hunting, as men like to do.  It’s not a woman’s business.” 

“I’m only worried about my husband, Niko!” Sophia voice trembled as she fought back a wave of grief.


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