TITLE: "One Sword, One Harp"

CATEGORY: General (response to Turning Point Challenge)

RATING: PG-13 for some not so nice language

SUMMARY: Mallory's perspective from the Turning Point Challenge

DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Nuff said.




"One Sword, One Harp" by CretKid

You can love me, but I must make me happy.
You can promote me, but I must succeed.
You can teach me, but I must provide the understanding.
You can coach me, but I must win the game.
You can lead me, but I must walk the path.
You can pity me, but I must bear my sorrow.
For the gift of love is not a food that feeds me.
It is the sunlight that nourishes what I must finally harvest for myself
If you love me, don't just sing me your song:
Teach me to sing.
For when I am alone, it is then that I will need the melody.



June 13, 1993

2:36 AM

Nashville, Tennessee

The cursor blinked, agonizingly, hypnotizingly slow. There was something to be said of a locked screen, the futility of waiting for a program that would not comply with every wish uttered, every profanity cursed. It seemed a metaphor for life. Mallory stared at it, knowing that anything she thought, did or tried would be an exercise in uselessness.


"Language. That will be one dollar, please."

"Shut up." Mallory hit Ctrl-Alt-Del. The screen changed from its eerie blue screen, to black. The hard-drive made a sickening sound that in no way seemed right.

"That's another quarter. You keep this up, and I can buy lunch from the vending machine tomorrow."

"Bite me." Another three hours of wasted work down the drain.

"I'm sorry, you're not my type. Now, if you were a 5' 9" stalk of celery, then things might be different. And that will be another quarter."

"I'm not talking to you."

"Ooh, I'm hurt. Suck up, deal. Start over from scratch. What you wrote sucked anyway."

"I don't need help from the peanut gallery. Write your own goddamn teaching strategy."

"That's another fifty cents-- ouch!"

"Well, you shouldn't have been in the way!"

"And that book magically flew by itself? I don't think so, deary."

Mallory grabbed her head in frustration and waited for the computer to reboot. It just sat there like a frog on a log with nothing better to do than squat and catch flies. The light from the desk lamp was furiously bright against her tired eyes. She just wanted this last quarter to end.

She knew graduate school would not be a piece of cake, but she wanted to be a teacher, and it was her intention to be a damn fine one. Part of that meant getting her degree someplace where her father would not bother her. Vanderbuilt had the program she wanted in elementary education; and the school offered her a fellowship. There was no way in she was going to be dependent on her father's money.

No way in hell.

He had missed her high school graduation. Said he had to work. Then college graduation. She never bothered to listen to his excuses that time. Her mother stoically defended him, despite the fact that everyone east of the Mississippi knew Leo McGarry, orator extraordinair and now Secretary of Labor, drank like a fish. Mallory wanted nothing to do with it. She had forbidden her mother from ever giving her father her address or telephone number. She'd had her name legally changed to her mother's maiden name. It wasn't the best deterrent, but offered at least one layer of security from her father's legacy.

The computer has still not rebooted. She slammed her hand against the side of the chassis in the hope that brute force would alleviate the problem. When that didn't work, she tried it again. And again, and again.

"Hitting it will not solve your problem."

Kelsy Farmer grabbed both of Mallory's wrists and pulled her from the desk. The apartment they shared was small; a two bedroom complex with a dine-in kitchen, less than a mile from campus. A walking tour took all of 8 seconds. Kelsy deposited her on the couch and threw an afghan at her head.

"Take a nap or something. Watch TV. Leave the damn computer alone. I will fix it in the morning. When's your thing due?"


"Okay. Don't worry. That's like a week away."

Kelsy plopped down on the couch and grabbed the remote control.

Mallory snuggled into the corner, knees pulled up to her chest. She wrapped the afghan around her legs and across her shoulders, half hiding her face between the couch cushions and blanket. Despite the warm mid-day temperatures, the evening had proven to be quite cool. A nice, soothing breeze was blowing through the open window. Maybe she'd sleep on the couch.

She wasn't paying attention to what Kelsy was watching. TV wasn't her thing. The background noise was enough to lull her to sleep if need be. Sort of like having a story read to her late at night, when her mother thought she had been asleep for hours and her father --

Shaking her head in frustration, she buried her head farther into the cushion. She would not think happy thoughts about her father, dammit.

Someone was singing on the television. It was a soft voice, Irish, melodic.

"The minstrel boy to the war is gone,
In the ranks of death you'll find him;"

"What are you watching?" Mallory asked through the holes in the knitted blanket.

"Star Trek."

"His father's sword he hath girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him;"

Mallory recognized the song. Vague memories of following her father through woods in New England, holding his hand, singing songs at the top of their lungs...

"Land of Song!" cried the warrior bard,
Tho' all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!"

"Turn it off." Mallory sat up higher.


Mallory anxiously searched the cushions for the remote. "Turn it off!"

"Okay, okay." Kelsy flipped the channel to an info-mercial. "Want to tell me what that was all about?"


"Does this have anything to do with the phone call you got from your mother this evening?"


"Speaking of phone calls, why are you so popular this evening? Your mother, some woman named Abbey, somebody else named Margaret. And some joker by the name of Jed. You actually know someone with the name of a Beverly Hillbilly?"

"That hillbilly happens to be a congressman from New Hampshire."

"No shit?"

"Yes shit."

"Well, you've been in a piss-poor mood ever since. Go get some sleep." Kelsy pushed her off the couch. "You'll feel better in the morning."

"Not bloody likely," Mallory replied, dragging the blanket behind her.

"You've been reading too much British literature, Linus. Go to bed. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. When do you have to be up?"

"I got a thing at nine."

"I'll wake you at 8. Give your brain a rest. Tomorrow we'll have a girls' night out. You pick the bar."

Mallory stopped at her bedroom door, leaned against the door frame. "No bars. No alcohol. Just promise me that."

"Yeah, sure, whatever you want."

"'Night." Mallory slowly closed the door behind her.

She sank on the bed fully clothed, afghan tangled about her legs. It was all just so... tiring. Covering her head with a pillow, she tried to staunch the tears that she had promised herself she would not shed. The damn song kept playing in her mind, the only lines she could remember running rampant through her brain like a broken record:

"One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!"





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