|Think of the most dangerous situation you can face. Have you ever been in such serious danger? What is the greatest danger that you have experienced? Think or write briefly about your experiences (or lack of experiences!) with danger.
Write a story, poem or create an artwork where the characters face a great danger
where characters reflect on their reaction to a great danger.
I live a sheltered life. I have had very few confrontations with anything remotely resembling danger. When thinking of what danger I've been in, I could think of very little. A few car accidents? Nearly drowning when I was a child? Once being threatened by a neighbor's nasty dog? Pulling my sister from the woods with a swarm of hornets hot on our trail? While exciting splashes in my life, none of them were really danger.
But I work in law enforcement (on the desk-driving side), so people I care about face danger every day. My coworkers have been stabbed and nearly run over; they've had people try to flee by jumping through plate glass windows; they've had people hang themselves on clothes hangers, seal themselves in storage bins, and climb into ceiling panels to try to hide; they've been threatened and put on gang hit lists. They tell me these stories with a wink and a smile; they are proud. But then, in another agency from ours, something goes wrong, and we are make arrangements about who will represent us at the funeral; we wear our black ribbons; we think differently about those near-misses that make such good stories. We aren't laughing.
On the Rocks
The third day of the week was his day off from the scriptorium, and Pengolodh always spent that day looking for the long flight feathers from gulls that made such suitable quills. Even when the sky poured rain; even on the one occasion when the snow piled to his knees (and feathers would have been impossible to find anyway), he went. He ached to hear the sound of the sea, loud enough to drown all but his most insistent thoughts; repetitious enough that his ponderings skittered lightly on the surface of the sound, never plummeting into the deeper and more painful introspections to which he was lately prone.
This day, the fog clung to the edge of the water and the sun rose behind it like a tarnished medallion. Away from the beach, Pengolodh knew, it would be unbearably hot. Was it not the third day of the week, he'd be struggling not to fidget in the scriptorium; sweat would be streaking down his back and pooling in the waistband of his trousers, itching there, but he would not fidget.
Pengolodh walked to where the rocks curved out to sea and, there, formed a cove where the young Sindar launched their bark boats in the relative calm. Something white lay upon the black, sea-slicked rocks, halfway out, and easily he made himself believe it to be a gull feather so that he had the excuse to climb out onto the rocks after it.
Pengolodh liked climbing on the rocks. He was terrified of it. Everywhere he saw surfaces angled to upset his balance, crevices waiting to snatch and snap his ankle, slick spots that would send him face-first into the rocks, catching himself and abrading his palms. His blood roared in his veins as he carefully picked his way across the rocks. He held his body so tight, so afraid, that when his feet touched the sand again, his shoulders ached like they did after a day bent over a desk. He quivered. He felt alive.
The white bit on the rocks was a discarded piece of shell, likely dropped and broken by a hungry gull, not even intact enough to make a child's pallet of it. Pengolodh moved past it. His careful gaze appraised danger at every point. He leaped, and expected to fall. Teetered. Outstretched arms held his balance. He felt his feet hug the rocks through thin-soled shoes. His feet would be bruised and sore; they always were upon settling to bed at the end of the third day. He breathed fast and deep through his open mouth. In this way, he made his way to the farthest rock and, there, settled to watch Nevrast.
From afar, he liked Nevrast. It might have been a pile of beautifully shaped rocks, something dumped there by the Valar when the light still came from the Lamps and they lived in peace on Almaren. Even his keen eyes couldn't catch the movement of individual Noldor along its streets and walls. His imagination filled the empty windows and doorways with people very much unlike the people who lived there.
But, today, a sound down the beach disturbed him: a shout, then another, then another. There was a rhythm to it. Around the curve of the beach, a crowd of Elves suddenly manifested. They were running, running in neat lines, five abreast and Pengolodh did not know how many deep. Each held something in his right hand in a way that reminded Pengolodh of the way one would carry a torch, keenly aware of the fire at its tip and the danger it would wreak if permitted to tip or topple. But, as the running Elves drew closer--the rhythmic shouts growing louder though no more comprehensible--Pengolodh saw that those were longbows in their hands.
But of course. He remembered now, four days ago, walking to the scriptorium with another apprentice and noticing the streets more crowded than usual with other young men like themselves. Like them, yet not. These young man slouched and languished and ran their fingers through their hair and talked to each other from the sides of their mouths if they talked at all. It was recruitment day for Nevrast's army, his companion told him as they walked. Those with no better opportunities would present themselves before the lieutenants of Lord Turukáno in hopes that they might be believed strong enough or fast enough or precise enough with sword or bow to be taken into service and, by that means, feed their families.
"We are lucky," his companion had said. "Lord Turukáno has already said that the scribes and loremasters will be last-called in event of war, and that the greatest among us will be shepherded away with the books so that the lore of our people never perishes from the world." We are lucky, he said, but his voice said, We are deserving.
The running Elves passed in front of the rocks, close enough that Pengolodh could see their faces. Some looked younger than he. They had wives and children already? He supposed that they did. Their bellies growled with no less insistence than his own, and this was not Aman: There were droughts and blights here, the fear of famine. Famine, that old Cuiviénen word, tricky upon his tongue. "We are lucky," he said aloud, though he did not know who we was any longer. "Lucky." He wondered what the running Elves imagined would lay around the next curve of the beach in the eventual war in which they had agreed to fight. He wondered if they thought to die of rot from a spear wound in the gut was better than to slowly perish of hunger. He wondered if they imagined at all.