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Author: Adonnen Estenniel (alphien)
Title: Speak No Truth, Offer No Comfort
Rating: PG-13
Theme: January Potluck (October Outside the Box)
Elements: grandson, sunder, blind
Summary: There's a feminist loose on the streets of Minas Tirith, and she's causing a bit of a stir. Curious to see what the fuss is about, one of the King's guards visits the tavern where she holds court, and he receives quite the earful for his troubles.
Wordcount: 1,018 (excluding epigraphs)


Speak No Truth, Offer No Comfort


“I have heard the voices of the wind, the voices of my dim killed children”
—Gwendolyn Brooks, “The Mother”


“It is a melancholy truth; yet such is the blessed effect of civilization! the most respectable women are the most oppressed; and, unless they have understandings far superiour to the common run of understandings, taking in both sexes, they must, from being treated like contemptible beings, become contemptible.”
—Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman


-------------------------


          I know why you’re here. I know what you want. Don’t think I don’t know.

          Yes, I’m talking to you!

          Why, sir, you’re blushing! Didn’t think I would notice you, sitting here next to me with your fine livery and groomed hair? You’re nearly as out of place as I am, and that’s saying something. The King’s sent you, hasn’t he? Well there’s no need to try and deny it, sir. I’m drunk, you know, not blind.

          Yes, that’s better. Speak up, now! You’ve chosen a loud place to have a conversation. Ah, yes!

          I hope you don’t find me impertinent, sir—well actually I do—but by what right do you speak to me in that way? Am I your dog? Your child? Your slave? Your inferior in some way? No, I am not, so kindly refrain from shouting.

          The King, you say? Never fear, sir! I know all about the King, yes, plenty about him. You needn’t try to explain to me about him or his ways! Yes, I know about the King. He’s a rather demanding fellow, isn’t he? Oh, don’t you believe me?

          I delivered unto the King all that I had, and he returned it not. Nay, do not shush me, sir, me—a woman who dares to speak against our King. It is the truth that I speak. Shall you not hear it?

          Oh, do I offend you, sir? Does my honesty sour your ale? I know it sours mine. It’s inescapable, truth; yet I can’t help but try. I am only a silly woman, after all.

          They’ve told you of me, no doubt, and you’ve come to see what all the fuss is about. Shall you tell the King of me, sir? A woman who drinks free as a man, who spends all her hard-earned wages upon ale, who dallies her nights in taverns no lady should ever set foot in. And why not, sir? Why should I not do these things? Womanly virtue, modesty, decorum, gentility—what pitiful stuff. Do I not live and die and piss as you do, just as a man does?

          You cringe, sir! Perhaps you find it ghastly, a woman behaving as I do. Perhaps it is ghastly. I care not. After years of bowing and scraping to the expectations and rules of a man, I’ve come to see the folly of it all. You, you men of the world are not bound in such a way as are your wives and daughters. Why should I be? One’s place in the world is what one makes of it, sir, not what society commands it to be.

          And the way I see it, my place is here. Have I not just as much cause to be here as these men? They come here to drink away their loss. The King took their limbs, hearts, eyes, and ears—sundered them from their very souls. And I come to drink away my loss, just as they do. The King took my soul, but he oh so kindly left me this damnation they call life. But I ask you, sir, what good is a shell with naught to fill it?

          Such is the price of freedom, you tell me, ‘tis an honorable thing, to sacrifice oneself for liberty and peace. Ah, but what a painful price it is—and not at all eased by the passage of time, no matter what the poets might say.

          You shush me again, sir! Has my truth soured your ale yet? Do you now feel the pain of freedom, or are you still lost in your delusions of honorable sacrifice? Nay, I will not be silent! Have you learned that of me, if nothing else? I was obedient once—never again.

          But you do not like my truth, do you? To be sure, it is not as beautiful or noble as the King’s. But I am not a beautiful or noble woman, simply said. Oh, don’t try to placate me, sir! I know my own shortcomings well enough. My truth is crude and ugly, and it suits me quite well. Mayhap it does not suit you, though. In time, you may come across a truth that does suit you, but until that day, I’m afraid you must listen to mine.

          You speak to me of my dreadful, unwomanly habit, sir. Yet look around you. This room is full of drunks and drunkards. You yourself, sir, have had a mug or two more than’s good for you. Unwomanly, you say. Well, I say unmanly. Would your precious King approve of these men any more than he would of me? Are not your masculine vices comparable to mine? Do you not think so?

          And in the end does my heart not bleed, as yours does? Do I not cry into the darkness, as you do? Have I not pain? Have I not suffering? Shall I be denied emotion because of my sex? And if I am to be denied feeling, then I have no need of relief—ah yes, that’s the way of it. You men are such fools.

          Look, there is my brother, fallen into a stupor beneath the table, while his son searches for treasure between that wench’s breasts and his grandson mindlessly throws away his inheritance at dice. Will you not reprimand them also? Or does what hangs betwixt their legs spare them from fault? Do past injuries justify their lewd behavior?

          And am I not injured just as much as they?

          I have heard the wind that carries the death-cries of my sons and husband. The King took them from me, and I shall never again clasp them to my breast, for their graves are unmarked and untended. Shall you return my loved ones to me, sir? Nay? Then if you will not bring them back, leave me to drink in peace. It is the only thing that stops my ears.

          You tell that to the King, oh Guard of the Citadel. I’m sure he would be most amused to hear it.

          Oh, so now you are silent. How like a man!

-------------------------



Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
pandemonium_213
Jan. 17th, 2012 02:06 am (UTC)
*Stands and applauds*

Brilliant, Adonnen! Absolutely brilliant! Raw, visceral, and with a bitter reality as stark in Tolkien's legendarium as it is our primary world. The women of the Pandë!verse raise their cups and tankards in solidarity with the narrator!
alphien
Jan. 17th, 2012 01:29 pm (UTC)
LOL, thanks so much, Pandë! I wasn't quite sure how this one would come across, so I'm glad you liked it.
engarian
Jan. 17th, 2012 02:31 am (UTC)
Love this statement of integrity from one who has lost everything and is not ashamed to both admit it and to act human. Yes, human, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the fact that she is female. Bravo!

- Erulisse (one L)
alphien
Jan. 17th, 2012 01:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Erulisse!
blslarner
Jan. 17th, 2012 02:32 am (UTC)
Sometimes the price of victory is far too high. I grieve with her for her losses, and appreciate her desire to drown her pain as do men.
alphien
Jan. 17th, 2012 01:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Larner!
dreamflower02
Jan. 17th, 2012 03:09 am (UTC)
What a painful and honest monologue! You can see her sorrow in every line of her anger. Well done!
alphien
Jan. 17th, 2012 01:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Dreamflower!
ellynn_ithilwen
Jan. 17th, 2012 07:51 am (UTC)
This is great! I love the arguments you use, as well as the way you use them - neither too concise, nor too long.

Uhm, just one thing. Near the end there is a sentence "It is the only thing that stops my ears." Shouldn't it be "tears"? *unsure*
alphien
Jan. 17th, 2012 01:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, Ellynn! I'm glad it kept your attention.

And nope, I did mean "stop my ears" but "stop" as in "plug" or "fill" not as in "end". Thanks for checking!
ellynn_ithilwen
Jan. 17th, 2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
Oops! Sorry then! *blush* The thing is, I've never heard of that phrase before, so I was really confused. Sorry.

I often wish there were no language barriers... *sigh* :(
alphien
Jan. 18th, 2012 02:47 am (UTC)
That would indeed be a nice think. And no worries! It's not a common phrase or anything, :)
clodia_metelli
Jan. 17th, 2012 10:33 am (UTC)
That is certainly an earful! Well spoken, that woman.
alphien
Jan. 17th, 2012 01:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Clodia!
nelyo_russandol
Jan. 17th, 2012 10:30 pm (UTC)
Wow! Not the conventional rosy ending with newly crowned king and the happy wedding but the gritty reality of war and the losses it's brought to the ordinary people. Plus the impeccable arguments for equality in such a male-dominated society as Tolkien's Gondor. Brilliant!
alphien
Jan. 18th, 2012 02:48 am (UTC)
Thanks, Russandol!
burning_night
Jan. 18th, 2012 12:40 am (UTC)
Well said narrator! Brilliant :D
alphien
Jan. 18th, 2012 02:49 am (UTC)
My narrator appreciates your compliments! :D
paranoidangel42
Jan. 19th, 2012 03:32 pm (UTC)
I love the style of this. The narrator's voice comes across really well and you can guess what the man is saying from her words.
alphien
Jan. 21st, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks! This was a bit of an experiment, and I'm glad it worked.
ceshaughnessy
Jan. 19th, 2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
Lol, I *love* a strong woman character! Well done!!
alphien
Jan. 21st, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
Same here! Thanks for commenting!
huinare
Jan. 20th, 2012 08:24 pm (UTC)
I can just picture this conversation. Well done indeed.

You yourself, sir, have had a mug or two more than’s good for you. Unwomanly, you say. Well, I say unmanly. Would your precious King approve of these men any more than he would of me? Hear, hear!
alphien
Jan. 21st, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!
lindahoyland
Jan. 21st, 2012 12:13 am (UTC)
A sad and moving story.
alphien
Jan. 21st, 2012 06:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Linda!
mrowe
Jan. 21st, 2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
Well said, that woman!
alphien
Jan. 21st, 2012 06:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
foxrafer
Jan. 27th, 2012 01:12 am (UTC)
What a strong monologue with a very powerful impact.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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