|When death is staring you in the face, you can't help but think of all the people you've met in life; all your loved ones, all of the hate, the people you let down, and all the children you've helped to look up, all the lives you touched with your own...and you cry.
You cry like you did, the day you were born.
Clutching his cross, he clawed his way towards the medical tent, and towards life. He needed to be alive; now was not his time. Debris surrounded him and obstructed his way as he inched closer and closer. Gunfire was rampant and one false move could mean the end of the line. Now he wasn't too far, but his vision was starting to fade, with darkness slowly creeping in on his sight. Ten feet, eight feet, four, he was almost close enough to smell the penicillin.
Light moves faster than sound.
Where he was once struggling to stay focused, a white flash blinded him. Where as earlier, gunfire and screaming was the majority of his auditory input, now it was silent. His chest tightened and his body came into contact with something hard enough to shock him awake. the whiteness faded into complete darkness, and now there was ringing. He lost himself in the silent noise.
Silence is the most beautiful, and terrible sound in the world.
Slowly woken by rough shaken, the soldier looked up at a sweaty, dirt and soot covered face. His mouth was moving but all that was heard was the silent ringing. He lifted his head to his ear and pulled it away to see blood. The darker man had less equipment on him so he hauled the soldier onto his back and trekked off into a safe shelter.
For now, he let the darkness take him, and he slept.
A cold sweat, shivering and nausea woke her. Her head was ringign and she needed help getting up. She was well along in her pregnancy and night terrors were the last thing she needed. "Water will do me some good," she muttered to no one in particular.
Rolling to her side, she swung her legs over the edge of the bed where they dangled for a while, feeling out the cold air. her hands slowly lifted her body out of bed and then she leaned on them for support. She was just now getting used to the extra weight, yet the bodily functions she'd used to like hopping out of bed and staying up till odd hours of the night were out way out of the question.
Sighing, she shrugged off her exhaustion and started to gather her senses. The walk to the kitchen was a fairly long one, and one she would not risk making while groggy So stop by treacherous step, she slowly felt her way to her cold, white, marble kitchen.
When she finally got there, she paused for a second to catch her breath. "Damn stairs," she grumbled as she fumbled on the wall in search of the light switch. "Two floors, but the comfy bed of a pregnant room is upstairs."
The light flicked on and she marveled at the pristine serenity of her built-by-her-own-hands kitchen. she loved to cook, and to build, so letting her design the kitchen the way she wanted it to be was the greatest and nicest thing John could do for her. He always thought of her; even if he needed something, he would drop it in a heartbeat for her.
She turned the tap off and the cup she'd slowly been filling rested in her hand. Cool against the warmth of her hand, she drank till she could ingest no more. Her left hand never left the faucet as over and over again, she kept refilling her cup. A good ten minutes whiled away like this and in the end she grasped the edge of the sink for balance as she dropped the glass.
She was drinking for two...
Warm air greeted his face and welcomed him to the realm of consciousness. His hand felt a little heave and throbbed with the force of a stampede of elephants. He was leaning against a wall, propped up with amakeshift pullows and blankets. Despite the sheltering of his body from direct heat, he was still hot. Sweat pooled in the crevices of his body, in his hair, and gloves.
He obviously was not carried far from the site of the explosions. In the distance, he could still hear the conflict. He could still hear the death, the misery of taking another life, and he could still hear the sound of troops hardening to the facts of war. You kill, in order to survive another day.
He chuckled at the irony of death leading to life. How, by killing the old oppressive regime, a new future would be born for the children of tomorrow. He was proud to be a part of the fight for freedom, but he wanted to be able to go home to his wife, and possible kid.
Fueled b passion, he started to unravel the blankets keeping his body snug. He tossed and tuned, until finally he freed his arm and upper torso. Sweating profusely, he ripped his standard issue shirt off and tossed it into what seemed to be another heap of clothes. To his surprise, it stirred, and from it rose a man.
That man! That same man, who had saved him from the battlefield? Why was he here? Who was he? As these thoughts raced through his head, he struggled to reach for his backup knife in his boot, he missed. Frantically, he reached even further, only to fall on his side.
The foreign man approached cautiously, his voice was muted, but re-assuring. His hands made no sudden motions, and he was very self aware. Slowly and gently, he lifted a mug with water in his hand to the sky as a symbol of peace. The soldier was parched and he was not one to hold a grudge based on a past situation. The battlefield was behind him, and now was not the time for hate. He was thirsty.
He reached out and clasped the cup, using the helping hand of the sullen faced man to pull himself up. Blood gushed from the side of his arm, stomach and his leg. Upon planting one leg, he attempted to stand, and fell. Cursing his grogginess, he groaned as he tried again. Yet once again, he ate dirt.
Throwing the restraining covers off of him, he looked down to see a missing leg, and a hole in his stomach.
She felt the moist, humid air whipping her hair around as she ran outside to grab the clothes before it rained. Most of the house was eco friendly and she even went above and beyond. She knew that babies were expensive, so saving up was a daunting task.
She wiped her brow and looked to the sky. The clouds had darkened and were now beginning to roll slowly towards her.the sound of thunder was loud and ominous. What was once a warm summer day was slowly turning into a maelstrom and yet, she felt an odd calm. Being in the eye of the storm was calmer than the few reaches of destruction, but all the more fearsome.
Silent as if it were all that existed. Silence as in death.
He was gently aroused by the smell of cooking food. A slow boiling pot was resting on smoldering embers, next to some bread. Beaten and torn, much like him, the bread caught his eye. All of a sudden, the full extent of his hunger hit him. Dragging himself towards the warmth, he struggled with all his might to stay awake.
Suddenly he was helped up to sitting by the foreign man. They both slowly moved towards the food, and when they reached the fire, they sat down to eat. Breaking bread is the easiest way to create trust and is is one of our oldest traditions. To do isn't such a turbulent time gave him hope. Hope for now, hope for his life, hope for peace.
"Hope," he said, raising his little tin cup to the stranger, "For the future". His eyes spoke for him with the intent of his words. In honor, the stranger raised his glass as well. The two ate in silence, John constantly tense and on the look out for suspicious activity by the foreigner. Meanwhile the foreigner focused on his meager meal. He probably foraged the food from the remains of a house, or a nearby camp, but food was food.
John was never one to be rude and a safe shelter from the shelling outside was worth a few hours of peace and quiet. It wasn't akward at all, and in fact, the silence was comfortable and re assuring. Warmth filled the cave as the remnants fo the sunset faded into darkness and the stars came out, twinkling like a new born child's eyes: eager and watchful.
However, for now, the stars would watch over him as he slept.
It was dark outside when she woke from her slumber. she moaned as she lifted hear head off the ground as the dull throbbing passed away ever so slowly. Still, she managed to come to a standing point, and dialed for an ambulance. She felt it coming. not any particular contractions, just a feeling, but good enough for her to realized that she needed help/
With a soft click, she hung up the phone, tossed it on the sofa, and flopped onto it herself with a great big sigh. She was exhausted, both physically and mentally. She had held it inside herself for too long. A single tear rolled down her cheek. Nine months of lying, nine months of nightmares, nine months, of holding onto a single solid truth that would destroy her marrige.
The baby was not his...
She wept and wept, but the tears kept coming. soon the sky joined in on her pain, and wept alongside her. The clouds screamed wit her and roared with a violent passion. Hundreds of father's days, a thousand family photos, and days and weeks of home videos. All of them, lies. The baby was no more John's than she was, an it was killing her. She grased at the couch, wailing to the gods above, and yet, to no one at all. She was alone.
When the ambulence came, she was slipping into unconsciousness, vision blurring in and out, and she struggled to answer the paramedics. They inferred she was in labor and they hauled her out on a stretcher.
With the wind whipping her face, she decided to call her husband's voicemail. she needed him to know. In not now, then never. She reached for the man on her right and had his attention until the world shook, and things flew everywhere. It was almost like being hit by a
"BOMB!" He screamed. "Take cover, space out!"
As his voice echoed back to him, he was brought back to his senses. "Just a dream John, just a dream," he reassured himself. Slowly attempting to get up, he limped over to the hole in the wall facing the treacherous outside world.
"Hey," he said to the foreigner. He turned around to face John and gave him a friendly smile. "Uh, I never...I never got a chance to say this". The man looked at him puzzlingly. "Oh boy," he hobbled over to a fallen pillar and bowed deeply.
"Thank you." he said as he came up. "Thank you for saving me." Johns tone, and actions conveyed more than he had expected. "You understand me?" he asked in surprise. "Whew, wait'll my wife hears about you. She'll love you for saving my life." he chuckled. When the man looked at him strangely, he showed him his ring, and signaled a pregnant belly. "My wife? Esposa?"
At this the man chuckled and proceeded to pull out a worn black and white picture. After saying a few things, he imitated the pregnant belle, and they both started laughing. At first, it was just giggles, but soon they were howling like a pack of hyenas in a den. Their joy of being fathers to be was beyond language, and their bond was one of pure friendship.
Later that night, they sat by the fire again, and shared the last of the food. With dawn close upon them, they cherished each moment they had as friends as opposed to mortal enemies. For now, they were content with lying on the ground, just happy to be alive.
Lying on the bridge was the totaled remains of an ambulance, and not more than ten feet away, was the struggling, fitful figure of a pregnant woman. Her head was bleeding, and she was in a very delicate state. Not being aware of how far she had landed from the ambulance, she tried getting up and walking a few steps before deciding to head for the edge of the stone bridge. He mind was now numbing her body, and her barefooted-ness did not bother her. Neither did the fact that she knew her baby was coming, and coming soon.
After settling down, subconsciously she started pushing the child out. She felt no pain, no suffering...nothing. She pushed, but not for her. She pushed for a new life. She pushed for her child.
Unaware of the world, the jarring sounds of the child wailing brought her around. She cradled the tiny life and began to thank her lucky stars that the child was okay. She felt the tears start to roll down her cheeks as the rain began to fall again, and she cleansed the baby as best she could. She was a girl.
"Shh, it'll be okay" she crooned as she rocked the crying little angel. "Shh, baby, shh....."
She needed to name the child, and soon. She knew that her time was running short.
"Hey, hey baby," she said, on the brink of tears. "I'm gonna name you now okay?" A wail erupted from the tiny mouth and she struggled to calm the newborn down. "Shh, no, no, no, no, shh. It's okay baby. Daddy's coming home soon okay?" She rocked the baby, and as it calmed down, it began to fall into a peaceful slumber.
Long ago, John and her had decided on a name, but she had always thought she would have his hand in hers when they called their little angel by her name for the first time. "Well," she chuckled softly, "Your name is-
Thunder rumbled off in the distance as john heaved his rucksack onto his back. He had fashioned a walking stick to aid him and the day was not as hot as it should have been, seeing as it was about to rain. A rare occasion in this part of the world. On his way out, he stopped and turned to say farewell to his friend.
"Do you want to know my child's name?" he said with a smile, while repeating the pregnant gesture. The foreigner laughed and nodded in approval. John turned towards the direction of his camp and said...
And with that, he was on his way.