These are the people I’m dying for: May and Ben, Calvin, Anna Maria, Mary Jane, Felicia, Fing, Fang, and Foom, Norman, Liz, Grandpops, Jonah, Betty, . . . and Gwen. I am giving my future for Calvin’s future. Calvin is sitting off by himself like normal, but still close enough to hear everything. He listens to the words and watches the faces and feels the terror, like what I’ve done so many times before. His mouse- like features close in even more when he hears something that does not agree with him. I don’t know too much about Calvin, but I do know he was a professor at a college before the war started. He had a family before the war started, but not one currently. I’m willing to die for Calvin’s future.
“Hey Petey! ‘You wear clothes of the brightest of colors and bells ring on your every step. You laugh at me, I laugh at you. Tell me, what are you?’” Asks Norman smirking.
“Do you take me for a fool, Norman?”
“Do you me? ‘A nightmare for some. For others, as a saviour I come. My hands, cold and bleak, it’s the warm hearts they seek.’”
“To death you want me to go?”
“No, you don’t want to go there, and that is my point. ‘I can be stolen or given away and you will live, yet you cannot live without me.’”
“What does Gwen have to do with this?”
“Everything. ‘I am nothingness, and the more you take from me, the bigger I get.’ A hole, Petey. There is a hole in your next actions, Petey. You are just putting on a show for all of us, then when the time comes, you’ll just run away. You’ll run away to your heart, Gwen, because you fear death, and you’re taking me as a fool.”
“I’m no gingerbreadman.”
“Oh no you aren’t, but your heart is, for Gwen.”
“I am going to die for you, Norman.”
“Why didn’t you die for our brothers and sisters fighting the soldiers?! The refugee camp is only for those who can’t fight in the war. You, Gwen, Bernard, all didn’t join the fight to protect us. Why didn’t you fight, Petey?”
“So that I can protect you now.”
“That doesn’t cut it! ‘I’m your follower in the light, Yet I’m invisible in the night, at various sizes I appear, I won’t harm you, have no fear. What am I?’ Petey, you’re a shadow of your father. You’re no hero! Don’t pretend to be!”
“I’m no hero, Norman,” Peter says with almost a despondent tone, “I’m no hero. But I’ll tell you what I’m not, ‘ You cannot see me, hear me, or touch me. I lie behind the stars and alter what is real, I am what you really fear. Close your eyes and I come near. What am I?’ The dark. I am not your enemy, I’m protecting you from the enemy. I will protect all of you, because when I protect you, I protect Gwen.”
“Do not play my games against me, Petey.”
“Pretty soon, I won’t be able to. Come on, Gwen.”
“Hey Gwen! Hey Peter! I’m just finishing up banaging up o’ Jonah here, come on over,” says Foom.
Foom is probably the most caring guy in our refugee camp. He devotes his life to helping people, so that he can figure out how to live longer. He is full of life, yet he does everything he can to prolong it. Foom is a very open guy, he’s almost a doctor – halfway to the degree before the war broke out. But he didn’t start this career until later in his life, I don’t know what he did before, but he and his brothers fight about it sometimes. He and his two other brothers live together down in the village and their hut is always open to visitors at anytime who need to talk. I will be happy to die for Foom.
“This younger ‘ere is so slow at bandaging me up, I’ll tell ye!” Jonah complains.
Laughing, Foom responses, “Well if ye quit protestin’, I’d be done a lot quicker.”
“If ye were a better doctor, I wouldn’t have ta!” Gripes Jonah.
“Ye know ye’ll never win a fight against Jonah, Foom. Ye just can’t, it’s against the laws of nature,” advices Gwen, smiling.
“I know, but sometimes ye just have ta try. There we go, Jonah, all bandaged up,” Foom leaves Jonah’s side and stands up, brushing the dirt off his pants, and says, “ye ready for all this ta come ta end for ye, Peter?”
“Of course not, but . . . it has to be done.”
Bernard comes over and says, “We need ta get the weaker and older refugees up the mountain first. So Jonah, ye wanna go with Foom?”
“Well, looks like I don’t have any other choice, with ye boys always pushin’ me around,” says Jonah, getting up from where he was sitting on the ground, favor his arm with the bandage.
Once Jonah and Foom leave, Bernard starts to say something, but stops, “Do ye . . . do ye really think we’ll be able ta hold ‘em off? I mean, we got mean ninja skills,” Bernard pauses to laugh at the joke, “but they got guns. I’m willin’ ta do it, but will it be worth it, Peter?” Bernard stops for a moment to collect himself, but can’t, “I’ve been tryin’ ta hold it together for the others, but I can be real with ye guys . . . Do ye think we can? We hardly believe we can . . . and ye see the way Norman thinks of us . . .”
“What do you think of yourself, is what matters. And yes they have guns. And yes most likely we’re going to die, but I think it’s going to be worth it, Bernard. Because you know why?”
“Ye guys have ninja skills? Oh brother!” Sighs Gwen, “Come on guy, ye have to make yer way ta the rockslide, and me the other way.”
It will be worth it, because we will have inspired hope.
With one last embrace, the three friends say goodbye forever.
“Greeting and valedictions, to a new world never seen by you nor I, my ever lovely Gwen.”
“Yeah, bye Gwen. Have an awesome life!”
Wiping away tears, “Yeah? Ye’re goin’ off ta die and ye say ‘yeah’?! Crazy, ye two,” and in a more sober tone, “I love you,” taking a deep breath and letting the tears flow, “I love you.”
Gwen wants to say it a thousand more times to make the moment last, but nothing can last forever. She closes her eyes and pictures his face, and then opens them to make sure she has every iota of him right. But she can’t encapture a person.
In almost a whisper, she says again, “I love you.”