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Tomorrow... (Hrothgar Despairs)

Tomorrow I cast my legacy into the waters of the mere. Still my heart I wish it still but still the waters will never be, the cold uncertain waters of the merely a boy to be history-bearer, and still I cannot sleep. Balanced between awake and asleep I feel the slope tilt dangerously before and behind; turn back now and I fall to the past, to yesterday where history is written in the cold grey stone around the lake and I am but a footnote which points lamentingly to the waters: "he entered not the monster's den but left the hall an offering to the water-beast's mercies." Time and grendels wait for none, not heroes, not kings so I place my helm in the hero's grip, hands I would trust with all but for the tendency of heroes to die, merely human after all.

<shakes a little more awake; gets up to move about for a minute to weary himself enough to sleep>

Even the body will not rest. Tonight, with a pattern so old it creeps to the other side of time and becomes my tomorrows of its own will, the mother entered and took yet another. Is my torture to be drawn out further by this? What can the eater-of-days know of my songs? Does she know to draw this out, to leave my glory to rust rather than break it? Even now the stench hangs in the air, the blood on the walls and door marking another day, another man fallen, and you can smell it. I can smell it. And this Beowulf-- His smell is here. Already he claims my helm. Each day marked by the beast now marks the dawning days of his legacy. He notches the blade now. It is to him these men turn, to him I now play the supplicant, the weary.

Once-mighty Unferth even turns to him. A hard friend-passing, that. I can see him tomorrow, passing his battle-bright blade to Beowulf, the blade I once gave him. So everything I give, everything I have built is passed to the next. And tomorrow that becomes final. Tomorrow whether he seizes victory from the mere as he seized it from Grendel or whether he dies, he seizes my tomorrows from me. He has stolen my songs, my men, my shaper.

<lays back down, heavily>

Tomorrow it is his. Let him have it! Let him grow old to see another come with tomorrows burning so brightly in his eyes! Let him face the wyrm, let him struggle in vain against it, let him see on his own the absence that is its future, the void that fills its every move against mankind. Let him try to wrestle his tomorrows from its hoard. And I suppose I am the wiser for knowing this. So victory have I none, no songs, no histories in my name. I have fewer and fewer men, but such is to be expected. Tomorrow I give over my days to him as others have already. And what do I have then? I have tomorrow.

--Scott Price

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