Thimbleful Thursday is a new microfic prompt site (mine!). This week’s prompt was “Cut the Mustard” and the word limit was 500 (450-550).
This piece is 547 words, and it might soon become obvious what prompted it.
“You’re never going to be able to do it, you know.”
“You’re never going to make it. You’re just not good enough.”
“You might as well face it. There’s people who can do this sort of thing – and then there’s you.”
Shut Shut Shut UP!
“Why don’t you just give up?”
There was some merit to the nay-sayers points, of course.
If there had been no merit, there would have been no sting – no bite, as it were. If they had simply been spitting into the wind, then they’d have been easy to ignore. But they weren’t, and thus they weren’t.
The truth was, Esharina had picked a challenge that was over her head. She’d done it on purpose, with her eyes open – although she might have gone a little further over her head than she’d planned.
(There were some that would say that everything was over her head. They weren’t worth mentioning, certainly not more than once.)
It was the sort of thing that you did when you were angry, when you had something to prove, when you were so far past winning that you had to carry your whole damn life on your shoulders, make up every failure twice over, just to not come out too far behind.
But none of that, not her failures, extensive as they had been, not her choice of a target, not her need to prove herself – not one of those things meant she couldn’t cut the mustard this time, and not one of those things meant that the nay-sayers’ commentary cut any less deeply.
“Shut UP! Shut up, shut up, shut up.” Esharina glared around the barracks. “One, it’s stupid. Two, I know that Connron and Torg and Ellory failed. I know Marchiella and Red Dav never game back. I’ve seen Caslior’s skull, thank you very much. I drank at the funerals. I pitched in, when appropriate, for the widows, the orphans, and so on. I know that better mercs than me have failed. But that is, as they say, wheat from a different bag.” She looked around the room, glaring at each merc in turn. Mercs did not, per se, have friends. But they had working relationships, and she had fought at the side of every single one of these fighters.
“I know I can do this. Not because I’m better than them, but because I’m different. I’m not as strong as Connron. I’m not as tough as Red Dav. I’m probably not as clever as Torg or Caslior. But I can do this.” She let her eyes drop back to the slim pack in front of her. “I know I can do this, and if I’m wrong, nobody but me is gonna pay the price.” When she looked up, it was directly at Senner, who served as the captain of their unit. “And I’d appreciate a little bit of cheering, and less grousing.”
Senner cleared her throat. “We hear you, Esha. And… we’ve got your back. We’ll ride you to the line.”
Esha didn’t miss the glare that Senner shot around the room, daring anyone to argue with her. She didn’t mind it, either. “Thanks. Thanks… I just know I can do it, this time.”
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