Peter couldn’t remember when he had first started saluting the statue. He knew that it was more than a decade back. Perhaps it was now even two. The figure of the archduke sat ramrod straight on his well-muscled horse. The horse, too, appeared to be standing to attention on the high stone plinth. The bronze of their forms was dull and tinged with green. It was a long time since they had been cleaned or polished, and the sea air had not been kind.
The salute was not ostentatious, just a quick touch of his fingers to his temple as he passed, nothing that would draw too much attention. There was a solidity to the horse and its rider that Peter found reassuring. Trudging to and from his job at the Town Hall, Peter had felt growing kinship with the archduke. He imagined him a man of commitment and resolve, someone who knew what had to be done and had stayed at his post without complaint.
Peter had even come to think that the archduke looked a quite a bit like him, from certain angles at least. It was true that no one else had commented on the resemblance, but this was no real surprise. No one else seemed to notice the archduke, up there on his horse, above the heads of the pedestrians. For that matter, not many people seemed to notice Peter either.
Lately he had begun to feel a strange lethargy creep over him like the fog that sometimes came in from the sea on still winter mornings. In his darkest moments he had caught himself wondering if there might not be virtues more important than duty. This morning he’d lain in bed for the longest time, ordering himself to get up. When he had eventually obeyed, his body felt heavy and unresponsive, as if he too were cast from bronze.
When he left his house the sky was a blackened purple, heavy with weight of imminent rain. A strong wind was blowing in off the sea, picking up litter and fallen leaves and hurling them around the streets. Leaning into the wind he pushed on, seeking the solidity of the statue. In the distance, he could see the archduke and his horse, clouds of leaves and street debris hurtling past them. And just for a moment, it seemed as if the archduke was galloping away.
Last edited by Matt Q; 10-08-2019 at 05:37 AM.