The prompt at Writer's Island this week is Triumph.
“Just look at me sitting here - I’m not a pretty sight, not that I ever was in fact. People used to tell me to stand up… and then realised I was already doing so. Standing next to the beautiful Josephine, I could barely reach her shoulder - oh yes, she was a tall one but even so… little wonder then, that I much preferred being on horseback where I could safely tower above the common mortals. And of course I looked down on them… I always looked down on my people. Though that’s not to say I didn’t care about them… of course I did, The People were everything to me, I put my life at stake because of them. Though that seems far behind now, all disappearing fast as if it’s all being shut up inside a telescope. My glory days have all receded from me, so far away… all diminishing, those famous people I used to have conversations with - Robespierre, Barras, Jacque-Louis David… all diminished to tiny figures trapped inside the telescope, which has been left behind somewhere on a desktop in Paris.
I’ve got the old stomach pains once again - they plague me from time to time, reminding me of my own mortality. Now-a-days it’s an effort for me to get up and cross over the road to get a loaf of bread from the only bakers that exists on this bleak island in the middle of nowhere. The sharp wind slices constantly across my face, once again reminding me of my own mortality. These days that’s the only thing I can be sure of… my own mortality. Those glory days of triumph blinked back at me from an oh-so-distant-spot that is becoming more hazy as every second ticks by. I take out my pocket watch and glance at it impatiently… the gold around the edges is becoming tarnished now, but it’s the only reminder left to me that I once was a force to be reckoned with.
I think I’ll die on this island… I think I’ll curl up and greet my death with passivity, clapping it in the shoulder like an old friend. Death holds no fear for me any more - in fact I think I welcome it’s approach. I lift my face into the wind and watch the skeleton approach slowly across the wild and bleak beach. The icy sea is choppy, and the waves slop constantly against the sides of my mind… the vision of my glory days won’t leave me, won’t leave me at all. I can sit down here on the edge of the beach amongst the seaweed and watch the icy waves receding from me, diminishing into some remote spot I once occupied. My days of triumph are far behind me now, and getting smaller all the time. The Paris I designed and help build… the Champs-Elysées stretching out for a whole mile, strait as a ruler - and the ruler I was, so that I was able to see the approach of an enemy. And the Arc de Triomphe arching over me as I sat on my horse below. My glory days, I held all the triumph in my hand… I held everything at my feet - where is it now?
I stare at a distant spot on the icy grey waves as they turn over and over, battering against the sides of my mind. Absorbing the memories, completely absorbing them so there’s nothing left now, nothing at all. After my death what will be left of me? Will they take my tiny skeleton back to Paris I wonder, or will I simply rot here, on Saint Helena. There’s no way of telling… I don’t suppose that it matters now, for my days of triumph are over.”