Sweat dripped into his eyes. He felt his breathing quicken as the enemy forces crested the ridge to the south, moving inexorably toward him. The sword in his hand felt ponderous. He gripped it so tightly his knuckles went numb, as he willed himself to focus on the thrill of battle over the heaviness of fear. Could he wield his weapon, when the time came? Would it be enough? Would his training be enough?
It was beautiful. It was sweet-smelling. It was deadly. For quite some time, I had ignored lovely, white-flowered vine that had begun to entwine its way around my backyard fence. Gardening has never been a hobby of mine. In contrast to my mother —- who has been known to happily steward anything from ferns to palm trees, bringing them tenderly back from the brink of death and into lush contentment —- my thumbs have always been decidedly mahogany.