The Story That Got Away

by johnathanknight

Once upon a time, I wrote this story.  But I didn’t back it up, so I pretty much lost just about all of it, which sucks, but it’s my own fault.  Anyway, I was happy to come across this opening bit.  It’s obviously not the full story, but it makes me want to rewrite it.


In a urine-soaked alleyway, outside of the jeweler’s shop, Matty crouched low and slid the cold blade of a knife across his own thigh. The sharp steel sliced through his threadbare pants and split open his skin.  A line of blood flowed, smearing the blade, but the sting, it wasn’t so bad, he thought.  Heck, he’d felt worse.

The necklace was worth it.  He felt a little guilty, but food was more important to him than honor.  His master had sent him to the jeweler’s shop to have the chain repaired, but Matty knew he could probably sell it to one of the older boys by the river docks. He rubbed his fingers against the silver chain, and imagined the money it would bring and the meals he’d eat. Warm baked bread and cheese and maybe even salted meat.  His mouth flooded wet even as his stomach hurt, convulsing inside, like it was collapsing in on itself.  He swallowed his own saliva, hoping the presence of something would lessen the pain.

It didn’t.  He needed the food.  He just had to hope his master would believe he’d been robbed.  It wasn’t that unlikely, he figured.  The city wasn’t exactly known for being safe, especially now that it was crawling with out of work mercenaries left over from Cardinal Redond’s failed campaign.

Matty stood and swayed, suddenly woozy.  The damn hunger wouldn’t let go, and the blood seeping out of his leg wasn’t helping him focus.  He closed his eyes, trying to think straight, to summon up a bit of clarity.  It wouldn’t do to be found with the necklace in his pocket, he thought.  No, not at all. He wrapped it in a dirty handkerchief and dropped it in the alley.  He could get it back later, assuming a random beggar didn’t find it in the meantime. The knife he held on to, suspecting the cut on his leg probably wouldn’t be enough. 

Matty gritted his teeth and slashed himself across his ribs. He spit and cursed as his eyes watered. Gods’ graves, but it burned.

There was only one thing left to do.  Anyone could fake a robbery with a cut or two, but how many folks would go so far as to beat their own heads to get a couple of good bruises?  That was the kind of detail that would make all the difference.  

He closed his eyes, sucked in his breath, and leaned his shoulder against the wall before snapping his head violently into it.