Thrice Around the Walls of Troy

Hector, detail

Thrice Around the Walls of Troy
by Gary Duncan


Round and round, thinking: All this, for her?

Remembering the stories he’d heard about her: the face, the ships, all that. That first time he saw her, his idiot brother smirking by her side: That’s her? All this, for her?

Around again, stealing a look over his shoulder: Fucking hell, this is one tenacious Greek.

Underwhelmed, that first time he laid eyes on her: the lips too thin, the cheeks too prominent. And the nose on her, like one of those beaked ships: wondering how they’d kept that quiet.

Around again, squinting up at the broiling sun, another look back. Thinking: He hasn’t even broken sweat. He hasn’t soiled himself. And see how beautiful, how terrifying, how glorious he is and always will be.

Starting to flag, the warm shit trickling down his legs. Deciding three’s enough, three times around the city walls is more than enough. He’s been running for ten years now, ten long years, and he always knew it was going to end like this. That it was Their will and it could never end any other way.

Stopping. Feeling the weight of his sword in his hand, knowing it’s useless now, that it was always going to be useless when it mattered most. That They had spoken, and there was nothing that he, a mere mortal, could ever do to change it.

Looking back to the city, knowing she’s there, high up in the tower, his idiot brother by her side. Not smirking now.

Throwing down his sword, the dull thud of metal on dust.

A last look back to the city, to the walls of Troy. Safe, for now.

“It’s not your fault,” he whispers to her. The stories will blame her, will sully her name, but he wants her to know. “It was never your fault.”

He closes his eyes and waits for Them to take him.

Gary Duncan is a freelance writer and editor based in Northumberland, England. His flash fiction collection, You’re Not Supposed to Cry, is available from Vagabond Voices. Recent credits include Train LitGravel and The Cabinet of Heed.  Find him on Facebook at or on Twitter @garyjohnduncan.

Image of Hector putting on his armour; side A of an Attic red-figure amphora by Euthymides, ca. 510 BC. From Vulci.  Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.