Title: Almost A Sonnet
Character: Giles (with implied Spuffy)
Word Count: 750
Virtually Giles’s first action in his new life was to sign up for poetry-writing classes. Not that he was fulfilling years of thwarted bardic ambition, they merely looked the least embarrassing option open to him to complete stage four of his Rupert Giles Getting a Post-Sunnydale Post-Watcher Life Plan (#4: Take an evening class to meet new people). Compared with expressive dance and conversational Finno-Ugric, the class seemed likely to produce relatively promising contacts. Bookish types. Even, perhaps, women.
And indeed it was not a bad group. Civilised in fact, middle aged and cultured by and large, and welcoming to Giles as one of their own (astounding, to be comfortably part of a group of adults again). Not a bad tutor either, keen without being off-puttingly earnest. She made poetry comprehensible, and enticing. Trouble was, Giles couldn’t find a voice.
It had become really quite difficult to overlook the faerie queen.
She was shiny and extraordinarily green.
All right, he had a voice. It just wasn’t very poetic.
Worse, when he could find a meaningful theme, it was inevitably Buffy. And Buffy was not part of his life any more. Couldn’t be mentioned. Far too incomprehensible to these nice Bath residents, to have a protégée who killed demons and then leapt from a crazy tower to save the world. Who had a fake-human sister who could destroy the universe. Who was buried in the woods and replaced (hah) by a mechanical copy built as a sex slave for a romantic vampire.
Put like that, he couldn’t really see the class understanding where he was coming from. Yet the nuts and bolts of poetry began to get under his skin. (Bad metaphor, Giles). Lines, couplets, stanzas came to him. Not elegant, not coherent, certainly not well written. But overwhelming, sometimes.
The robot speaks and knifes us in the heart Iambic pentameter, yet. Didn’t make it less painful.
We buried Buffy as dusk fell
Fell so softly, as she once did
Before she shattered the ground.
I watched her grow, my almost-daughter,
Then spilled her life like unregarded water
They were too raw to pursue, far too painful to dwell on. By the time the call came from Sunnydale, he had a mere four lines, painfully extracted.
My duty’s done. That welcome burden lifts.
I’m free but failed and purposeless, haunted
By memories of the bravest girl. Her gift
To us, the world secure. We are daunted.
Clunky. Especially around the rhyme. But the quatrain sat, completed. It was progress of a kind.
When he returned, his mood was quite different. How to comprehend a world in which the end was not the end? Confusion and doubt fought with the need to celebrate renewed life. He turned to blessed ambivalent poetry, where a line can take days of agonising to perfect, circling endlessly round a tiny sphere. It was the outlet he needed, found before he recognised his own desperate need in full. The next lines emerged and for a little while Giles could express himself. Not to the class, naturally. He’d begun a ballade about cats for their eyes. They were polite, unjustifiably, about his efforts, which showed every second of the fifteen minutes per week he put into their composition. There are few rhymes for tortoiseshell, he found.
My happiness is far from blind, there’s reckoning
Yet to pay. The vampire feels, I trow,
Too simple, that we know. The easy beckoning
Path has mortal consequence in tow.
Trow. Hmm. Not good. And he’d frankly plagiarised the beckoning path. Otherwise, though, there was Giles’s feeling on the subject, exposed. How could those stupid children (no, not children, but dangerously immature), how could they have done this? He could not find it in him to wish Buffy dead again, even knowing that she had found peace and contentment in the afterlife. But, oh god, what would the outcome be?
No wonder she could hardly speak to the living. Spending leisure time with the soulless undead, often, and voluntarily. That was hardly a sign of vibrant life.
Giles couldn’t move forward further. He abandoned the sonnet (was it a sonnet? Not yet, certainly, and its volta came too early). Something was unresolved.
When the next call came, from that mysteriously powerful coven, it felt inevitable. Of course there was a reckoning. Hadn’t he written it?
Giles sat in a comfortable easy chair at the coven’s cosy home, waiting for Willow to be returned to humanity. What else was there to do but reflect, hope and write? He finished his sonnet. (It was a sonnet, after all.)
The bill is paid. The price for Slayer life
Was witch’s mind. While resurrected girl
Sought solace in a dead man’s arms. A knife
Which cut their lives apart and risked the world.
We make the same mistakes, repeating wrongs
And losing self in service. Must be strong.
Far from great poetry, but there compressed in fourteen lines was the story of this utterly peculiar year.
Giles gave up his poetry class to save the world again, as the First made itself felt. His sonnet languished untouched, with all his other plans for a new life. Losing himself once more in service, like the rest.
Hope you enjoyed reading - it's been great fun writing!