Gwen turns and follows the group heading up and mountain and cries. Her vision blurs and her chest heaves. She lets the heavy ache spread throughout herself and relishes in it. She lets the pain become real and the emotion to be raw and doesn’t hide it. She lets it consume her. Inwardly she was wasting away. Her mind was racing, but no thoughts came to her. Her hopes, and dreams, and passions felt like the dirt she was walking on. Walked on, and walked over. Why did the war have to start? Why did she have to move to the refugee camp? Why did she have to find Peter? Why did she have to start slowly to become enchanted by Peter? Why does Peter have to die? Why does Peter have to break her heart into as many pieces as she wished she could have said ‘I love you’ to him? Why does Peter have to die, and her to live? Questions, questions, question, only in death will be the answer.
Bernard and Peter begin to wait.
They start to say something, but it seems like too much effort to finish. They want desperately for the other to say something witty to take their minds from the ever coming thoughts. But there is nothing to say, feel, or express except for the wave after wave of mental exhaustion that humans feel when there is no way to condense what is happening in their lives.
But Peter does find the strength to start and finish one inspiring battle cry for the two weary best of friends, “He will not give us more than we can handle, Bernard. We can do this. ‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ Let us pray, Bernard. Dear father, give us the strength to . . . give us the strength to protect your fellow children. Amen.”
The friends lay upon their backs against the hard rock beneath them. They are waiting for the crunch of boots and shink of shovels to move the rock. They are waiting for the soldiers to tire out from shoveling the rock and for the surprise of the two young boys to defer the soldiers from reaching the others. But they only hear the birds grow quiet and the crickets become louder. They take turns of nodding off to a fitful night terror sleep. They watch the stars slowly poke out from the haze that humans call night. The friends lay upon their back against the hard rock beneath them.
The refugees take a three hour nap that is suppose to pass a night sleep, but for many they lie awake. Gwen lies awake thinking, but her thoughts become her nightmares.
She sees Peter and Bernard die in every possible way. She sees Peter being hit in the chest and with his final breath call out her name, and yet she is not there to comfort him. She sees the soldiers deposit bullets in his leg and step on it so that they could find out where the refugees fled to. She sees the soldiers riddle him with bullets and leave him, dead. She sees him save Bernards life and for only Bernard to die seconds later. She sees the soldiers push through the rocks and crush the two friend and not even a breath of time to utter a last word. She sees the soldiers take them captive and torture them into fighting for their side, but Peter is too strong and tries to escape, but is killed.
She sees all these things and yet she knows she will never know what will happen. She knows that he will die thinking of her. She knows he will die being a hero, even if he never wanted to be one. He will die, that is for certain. Whether it be by rock or bullet, today or tomorrow, a hero or trying to be one; he will die. He will die, and she will live on. She will carry on with his hope that he inspired.
She closes her eyes and makes peace with his death – that will never be true peace. Peace was never an option.