The Duel This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

February 5, 2011
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Quietly, fearfully, she walked towards the lake. The trees, rising on either side of the path she followed, cast blue shadows over her white face. She pulled her shawl closer around her shoulders, shivering more from fear than cold, and slowed her walk. She was near the edge of the woods. A barbed needle of dread pricked her heart as her wide eyes traveled over the sloping lawn at the lakeside and the pier that ran out over the mist-covered waters. Four men stood upon the far end. Reflected back from the sterile gray mist that blanketed the water, a cold light gleamed from the hands of two of them. Light shining off the muzzles of two loaded pistols.

She started, and stepping behind a tree, looked on in terror as the men with the pistols turned their backs on each other and walked to opposite ends of the pier. Their companions, acting as seconds to the duel, carefully measured off the distance with slow paces, pausing to give instructions and encouragement to the duelers. Harsh wires of alarm sprang alive in the young woman’s mind. Her thoughts raced, frantic. "No! Dueling – he’ll be killed, I know it – Olga – what will I tell her – Evgeny can’t – Evgeny!" Here her mind stopped abruptly, and her gray eyes fixed immovably on the figure farthest to the right. "...He wouldn’t..."

Dimly she saw the two duelers salute each other and take their stances, separated by a mist of hesitation, regret, and incomplete anger. Faintly she heard the whistle blown by one of the seconds. She watched two pairs of hands cock the pistols as though from a world away. Slowly the muzzles were lowered, until they pointed their cruel, unflinching mouths towards each other. The men began to advance. With increasing horror the young woman, scarcely more than a child, tore her eyes away from the firm, unwavering, yet regret-filled figure on the right and flew to the other man. He stood trembling, terrified and unresolved. His steps wavered and he paused, still far from his opponent, whose firm, sure steps halted as well. "No."

He would not do it. She knew he would not do it. Evgeny could not be so cruel. Those kind, handsome dark eyes could not harbor such unfeeling disregard for his friend. His friend! Those two, the duelers, had stood in comradeship not many days before. What had happened? One dance, that was all. Why had Evgeny done it? She could not understand. How could he, the man she loved, dare to cause such pain in his friend? How could he dare to dance with Olga while her lover watched, jealousy blossoming in his heart? If He killed him, if Evgeny killed Vladimir…He would not. He could not. Impossible. He would lower the gun, any moment now. He would realize the stupidity, apologize, make Vladimir understand. It was only one dance...

She watched, frozen in place, torn between love and revulsion. She could see Vladimir’s pistol shaking in his hand. Her thoughts jumped in her head. "No, Vladimir! No! Don’t kill cannot kill him. Why?" The hesitation in Vladimir’s eyes gave way to forced resolution. His shuddering hand squeezed the pistol. The young woman hid her face in her shawl. Evgeny’s eyes narrowed.

A gunshot ricocheted across the lake, bouncing cruelly in the misty silence. She screamed, but no one heard. Vladimir stood, shock, shame, and repentance written across his face. Evgeny blinked. The shot had gone wide. The young woman collapsed against the tree, sure of Evgeny’s response. "He will end it now. Put away the gun..." The duelers stood motionless on the pier.

The lines of Evgeny’s gentle face grew hard as stone. His eyes lost their warmth and became cold as ice. A burning rage covered the regret in his form. He raised his pistol and stepped forward. Vladimir’s eyes filled with confusion, but he did not flinch. Staring into the face of his opponent, Evgeny pulled the trigger.


The young woman ran as though her heart were on fire, back towards the house. Her shawl snagged on a branch and fell from her shoulders. She did not notice. She hardly realized where she was. She reeled, staggering with shock, her world broken by what she had seen. "Blood, washing the pier, pouring into the lake – Death – He’s dead. He killed him. Evgeny – Evgeny, what have you done – A doctor – no, too late. I saw him fall. Vladimir – Olga! Dead, Olga, he’s dead. Cruel Evgeny, you liar! You were his friend – friend – does it mean nothing to you? Friendship, love, do you have a heart? Have I been deceived? Why, why, why – Blood – a lake of blood – I loved you. Never. I hate you Evgeny, I hate you! I cannot hate you. Never, ever come back. Coward, cruel, heartless! Evgeny, how could you?"

Back in the house. Sobbing, screaming, shaking. Olga confused, unregistering. "But I saw it, I saw it, he’s dead. Dead! Evgeny killed him, killed his friend, killed Vladimir. Killed your love, Olga. Killed your heart! Don’t you understand what this means?"

Olga sank, rigid with grief. The young woman screamed, again and again, not comprehending the tears that poured down her face. Evgeny, her Evgeny, a killer. A wound so deep no medicine could heal it opened in her breast. With time her tears would dry, her horror pass, her confusion fade...but now, before her eyes, a lake of blood thrashed in stormy winds. A man, firm of step and proud of bearing, stood upon the waters, pistol raised high in triumphant cruelty. Her broken heart sank beneath his feet.

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This article has 26 comments. Post your own now!

LiteraryMastermind said...
Apr. 7, 2012 at 10:45 am

It's a great piece. Everything flows together, and I like how you developed the characters in such a short scene. Deserved Editor's Choice. That said, I agree with Epiclyawesome that it was confusing, but I also read your reply about the italics. Considering that, when the thoughts were italized it would be miles easier to understand. Good job.


As a reminder, could you check out my novel, A Rebellion, Underground? Just click my profile, it's the only non-anonymous story I... (more »)

Tatiel replied...
Apr. 7, 2012 at 10:47 am
Thank you so much! And I most certainly will =)
Allicat001 said...
Apr. 7, 2012 at 10:07 am
The imagery and emotion you worked into this piece was flawless.  5/5 good job!
Epiclyawesome said...
Apr. 2, 2012 at 4:12 pm
You are an excellent writer and obviously have much talent, but this peice was a little confusing. Maybe if you seperated her thoughts from everything else, it would be easier to understand. Again, I loved this and think you are an excellent writer. Good luck on your future writing :)
Tatiel replied...
Apr. 2, 2012 at 5:17 pm
Yea, I lost the formating with her thoughts (I had them italicized so you could tell them appart from the rest) when I posted it on here. -_- Haha. Thanks! =)
Austin42 said...
Apr. 1, 2012 at 7:01 pm
I thought your story was good. I was a little confused on who is who and the relationships between the characters. But You did a very nice job of showing her thoughts. Although I was confused about somethings, in a way it adds to the stream of conscience effect since her thoughts patterns seemed realistic. 
bltsoccerchick said...
Mar. 29, 2012 at 7:57 am
This is a great piece- I loved every word of it! I love the imagery and vividness of your writing- I felt like I was right there with the characters. Great job!
ItsAshMal This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 28, 2012 at 8:46 pm
This is a great peek into this woman's life. I really like your syntax, as it compells the reader to continue. You also refrained from simple introduction of facts, instead choosing to allow the narrator to reveal all as she thought of it, which I think was a great decision. On the flip side, I think you may have been a bit overzealous in your punctuation usage, and there are a couple of moments (particularly in the stream-of-consciousness sections) where the story becomes not only unclear, but ... (more »)
KateLA said...
Mar. 24, 2012 at 7:15 am
Wow-I love your descriptions they're mesmerizing! You're a great writer, I can't think of anything to improve it. I was thinking about watching Onegin, and now I'm convinced I should :-)
Tatiel replied...
Mar. 24, 2012 at 7:42 am

=) Thanks so much!

Haha, and YES. You definitely should. ;) It's one of my all-time favorite movies. =D

CountryPopGirl said...
Mar. 23, 2012 at 10:04 pm
This was awesome. I think that if you wanted to, you could turn this into a story. Your descriptions and inner thoughts were a-maze-ing! :D
DaisyAngel said...
Mar. 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm
This was really good! I loved your descriptions, because they were so vivid. However, there are some places where you need to add commas and change capitalization. At one point, you referred to someone in the middle of a sentence as "He". You can't do that, because most religious people see "He" and think "God". Also, I was confused at to who was in a relationship with whom. That needs to be clarified a little further, I think. Other than that, though, this was really great! I'm surprised that i... (more »)
Tatiel replied...
Mar. 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Haha, yes, the "He" thing was a typo =P ...And I'm kiind of impressed it's still in there, since I submitted this to a writing teacher who graded it XD *makes mental note to fix it* =)

As for the relationship thing, I agree =P I realized that after I finished it. Anyone who is unfamiliar with the story of Eugene Onegin will have a hard time grasping that...I'll go back and edit =)

Thank you so  much for your comments!! =)

AnimaCordis said...
Mar. 22, 2012 at 3:07 pm

I'll start by saying I love the story you based this on! 

In terms of structure, I thought your use of short paragraphs was very good. I think it was very sutible to use them. However, your use of speech was a little comfuing at times, perhaps you meant it to be this way though. I like your range of sentance structure, it makes you sound like a well rounded writer and has a good effect.

I thought your use of langauge was very good, your descriptions are very vivid and at th... (more »)

The_Girl_On_Fire This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 23, 2012 at 8:03 am
first off, Great job on the badge! I like this story, the detail is especially good, great job! I don't really understand how to pronounce evgeny's name though... I keep thinking it's egg vinny (don't ask)
Tatiel replied...
Mar. 23, 2012 at 8:25 am

Hahaha! I originally wrote this for an online Creative Writing class, and due to technical difficulties, I couldn't read it out loud myself so another student read if for me. He finally gave up and called him Evan. XD The pronunciation is just the way it is spelled: ev-GAY-nee. His last name is weirder: un-YAY-gin. Hehe =P Russian names make me so happy XD

Thanks for your comments! =)

Woodles said...
Mar. 22, 2012 at 11:08 am
Wow this is amazing! You did a great job! Keep it up :D 
WSwilliams said...
Mar. 21, 2012 at 8:21 pm
No wonder this is an Editor's Choice. Maybe someday I can them to notice me like this. Pretty good story. It was raw, you used a lot fo description, and I liked the way you portrayed the character's thought as she witnesses the duel. One question though: Did this take place somewhere in the 1900's. i heard there were duels like this back then. Otherwise, REALLY great work
Tatiel replied...
Mar. 21, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Thanks so much! =)

Haha, I based it on a scene from the movie Onegin, like I said in my comments at the top. That movie is based off of Alexander Pushkin's novel in verse, called Eugene Onegin. That was written around 1820. So that is the setting in terms of time period =)

*grins* I HIGHLY recommend Ralph Fiennes' production of Onegin, if you're interested in a good movie...hehehe =P *totally in love with Pushkin's story* <3

futurenovelist1577 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 18, 2012 at 7:25 pm
this was great! You did an excellent job in describing the scenes and I felt drawn into the story. Keep writing...
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