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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Pen is Mightier than the Sword (04/08/10)

TITLE: The Scimitar's Muse
By Joanna Stricker


The sword was long and curved. Vicious-looking, it was fascinating to the boy.

“What do you think?” asked the shopkeeper. His father took his time answering, and the door to the shop jingled, announcing another customer.

“I’d like to look around a bit.” The shopkeeper agreed and went to assist the newcomers.

The boy knew better than to touch, but his fingers itched for a quick stroke along the long, sleek blade. It was old, but in good condition. How old? His father would know.

His father looked down and noted the interest in the boy’s eyes.

“You like that, eh?” The boy nodded; eyes never leaving the sword. His father knelt on one knee so that he could see.

Hanging on the wall behind the shelves, it ran the full shelf-length and the ornate sheath hanging with it—did not belong with it.

The father looked down at the boy, not even seven yet, but he had a good eye. The boy glanced back, carefully-tapered longing in his eyes, a half-grin acknowledging that his father knew how much he liked the sword. They shared their love of old things—and old stories.

His father was a historian, a writer, and an adventurer, although, the last was mainly from the boy’s perspective. They had left their small one room apartment searching for inspiration, something to breathe life into the next expose that would provide for their daily needs.

The father examined the sword. The scimitar, which was the better word to describe it, was simple in design, but effective in bringing to mind the clashing swords of battle, a warrior fighting to save his homeland, and the freeing of slaves from bondage. He had come looking for one story, but the sword promised many more. The question that remained was…could they afford it? The answer was no, of course. He looked at the boy. He was a good boy, never complained, and they got along splendidly.

A small pat on the back; his eyes flew to his father. He could read the answer in his father’s eyes. Disappointment clouded his eyes, but he nodded a brave chin when his father whispered, “Too much”.

The two tried to move on. The father moving to another shelf picking up an old Byzantine pot to inspect; then an old book needed perusal—it was autographed but not his favorite author. The boy followed his father’s example, examining the shelves, but when parental attention was directed elsewhere, longing eyes flew toward where the sword rested. He hadn’t gotten a chance to touch it. The pain of that thought was gripping, but he knew, if he had touched it—he wouldn’t have wanted to let it go.

The father waited until the boy was across the room, and the storekeeper came back to assist.

“I’m not finding anything of interest.”

The storekeeper, hoping interruption hadn’t cost him a much-needed sale, pointed to the picture they’d discussed before. It was a nice rendition of the port and eye-catching, with a full array of blues as backdrop for the ships.

“I can see the stories within it, but…” the client shrugged, “…what is stopping me from taking a short walk to see the shore for myself? No, I think not.”

The shopkeeper really did need a sale…glancing around the shop, his eye caught at the small figure that had been at the customer’s side when they came in.

“Perhaps…we could buy something for your muse?” He had thought it strange that his customer had said that his best ideas came from his son, but anything to salvage a sale. His client smiled at his wit, referring to his son as a muse, but…he was thinking about it.

“Well, his birthday is a week away…” That set the shopkeeper on a quest for the perfect gift. The father answered taste and preference queries, and finally it came down to a jewel-studded knife and an old sword. The knife cost less than the sword, but when the sword was brought out and examined, they discovered that the scabbard couldn’t possibly match the sword. Soon after, the shopkeeper made his sale.

The boy skipped as they left the store.

“That man thought we were buying it for me!” the beaming boy said.

The father laughed, “That he did, and so we were…a muse…for my muse!”

And that, my friends, is my story of how I became an historian, writer, and adventurer, just like my father…

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This article has been read 538 times
Member Comments
Member Date
AnneRene' Capp04/15/10
Touching story. You set the mood within that shop very well. I could almost hear that jingle on the front door. You also had ME wanting that sword and I'm not a boy! :)
E.J. Swanson04/16/10
I really enjoyed this story and could feel the excitement of the little boy...the boy who became an adventurer! The sword really was mighty in the eyes of that little boy.
Jan Ackerson 04/17/10
I really enjoyed the voice in this story.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/18/10
I enjoyed the beginning of the story. I remember going into antique stores with my parents when I was little. It was a nice trip down memory lane. I must admit I didn't quite get the ending as I thought he was buying it for his son, but that's okay my brain is tired. Your descriptions were delightful. I swear I could even smell what that little shop must have smelled like.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/18/10
Okay duh I read it again less tired and realized they were shopping not to buy but to inspire a story. Sorry I told you my brain was tired. It was quite clear when I read it this am. I guess I needed sleep. Great job still!
Beth LaBuff 04/19/10
Super story. I love your creativity with "the muse." Your title is great! (I can't pronounce it either.) :)
Patricia Herchenroether04/19/10
You told so much about these two in so few words. Great entry. What an adventurous life the boy has with his father.
Virgil Youngblood 04/20/10
Well crafted with an interesting setting and dialog. Good writing.
Beth LaBuff 04/22/10
Joanna, Congratulations on Highly Commended! (who cares how the word is pronounced anyway!) :)