Death Wish

by Jul 12, 2004Stories

The muse attacked with a vengeance while I was watching the movie. Nasty little beast harassed me until I picked up pen and paper. This is the result. It is totally movie verse with only a slight liberty or two taken. My thanks to David Wenham for his compelling performance that had me in tears.

Death Wish
By Deby

March 9th SR 3019

Word had spread quickly through the circles of the city. By the time Faramir and his men had donned their armor and mounted their horses, the streets were lined with people. From the sixth circle all the way down to the first, from the oldest grandfather to the youngest babe in arms. The procession of soldiers wound its way down through the narrow corridors of stone that the massive outpouring had rendered even narrower.

No bird trilled its song, no dog barked in gladness or warning, not even the horses made a sound except for the ring of iron shoes against the granite underfoot. For the their part, the people were as almost as silent as the animals. Now and again, the solemn quiet was broken by a muffled sob of a woman who could not contain her grief. Truth be told, tears welled in the eyes of the men too, for the people loved Faramir as much they had Boromir, if not more. And then there were the whispers that had trickled down. Whispers of how these brave men were being sent into a battle that was condemned to failure and if they fell, all of Gondor would be doomed.

Faramir, son of Denethor, Captain of Ithilien, scarcely noticed the silent throng until a young woman stepped from the crowd and pressed a small spray of flowers into his hands. A gesture that at one time would have been meant to express faith in victory, now it only underlined the futility of their endeavor. Looking up from his hands and behind him, he could see other of his men receiving similar tokens. Turning his gaze forward he saw his path being strewn with flowers, a poignant benediction. Yet if that was so, why did it seem to him a requiem for the useless death of good men?

For their sake alone he should not have acquiesced to his father’s wishes, but his beloved brother’s death bequeathed to him a burden that left him no choice.

Though it seemed that he thought ill of the dead, he had hoped, without his brother’s shadow, that finally Denethor would see Faramir, the man. For the whole of his life, his father had only seen Faramir, the younger son. The disappointing child who was not nor would ever be the man his older brother was. To be fair, he excelled in his book studies but in the skills Denethor prized the most, those of the warrior, Faramir fell ever short of Boromir’s glory.

Boromir had done his best to shield Faramir from their father’s casual neglect and blatant favoritism, but no kind word could soften the blow of Denethor’s offhanded scorn. And the unconditional love Boromir held for him, while heartwarming, was no substitute. Still, it was due to Boromir’s efforts and the occasional assurance from Mithrandir, that kept alive the feeble flame of hope that someday his father would love him. A flame that had been snuffed out with four simple words.

Faramir clenched his jaws together as he fought the urge to cry out against the Steward. He had to think of Denethor as the Steward and not father or he feared his grief would overwhelm him. At least in those first moments in the Hall, he had been able to keep the tears that swam in his eyes out of his voice. For in those moments he had longed to throw himself at his father’s feet and beg him `why’? Why did Denethor not love him? Aye, it was a good thing he had not given in to that urge. It would have only been construed as weakness and more contempt his shattered heart could not have borne.

A tap on Faramir’s arm brought him out of his painful preoccupation, how had they come so far from the city’s gates? The soldier was waiting. Yet memory compelled him to listen one last time.

“You wish now that our places have been exchanged,” Faramir swallowed and forced the words from his throat. ” That I had died and Boromir had lived.”

He waited with bated breath, his heart hammering in his chest. Denethor’s answer would reveal if he had spent his life in denial of the truth.

Denethor did not look at his son as he whispered from the depths of his grief, “Yes, I wish that.”

Faramir hardened his resolve and gave the word. Around him the men guided their horses into place until the lines were formed. At his command they began the headlong gallop to Osgiliath. He tried to drive all distracting thoughts from his mind, but as the first arrow whistled past and a cry announced that it found its mark, Faramir thought, So be it. If my death is what he needs to ease his grief over Boromir, then it is his.

With a loud cry Faramir raised his sword and threw himself into the battle.


Transcript courtesy of

Denethor: I do not think we should so lightly abandon the outer defences. Defences that your brother long held intact.

Faramir: What would you have me do?

Denethor: I will not yield the river in Pelennor unfought. Osgiliath must be retaken.

Faramir: My Lord, Osgiliath is over-run.

Denethor: Much must be risked in war. Is there a captain here who still has the courage to do his Lord’s will?

[Pippin turns his head to see the hardened look upon the face of the Steward, then turns to Faramir. A look of sadness comes into the eyes of young captain as he watches his father.]

Faramir: You wish now that our places have been exchanged. [He swallows.] That I had died and Boromir had lived.

[The is a pensive silence before Denethor answers.]

Denethor: [Softly, almost in a whisper:] Yes, I wish that.

[With this, he brings a goblet to his lips and drinks deeply. Faramir looks at his father, his moistened eyes glimmering in the light.]

Faramir: Since you are robbed of Boromir, I will do what I can in his stead.

[Faramir bows to his father and turns to leave. Pippin watches the father and son: Denethor seated in silence, grasping the goblet with both hands; Faramir’s departing figure. Halfway down the hall, Faramir turns to look at Denethor.]

Faramir: If I should return, think better of me, father.

[Faramir takes a last look at his father’s silent face, then turns, and continues down the hall. But as Faramir approaches the door, Denethor calls out after him, his voice hard and clear.]

Denethor: That will depend on the manner of your return.


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