Hero of War (Part 14)

I was reunited with Sophie shortly after arriving at the training camp. By a stroke of luck, we wound up in the same class because she had only arrived three days ahead of me (a story she would only disclose after a week of silence for disregarding her wishes).

We remained neck and neck throughout our training days– both in physical and mental areas. We excelled at the same things (climbing, long distance running and other cardio or speed-related exercises) and equally sucked ass in other areas (mathematics and most strength related exercises).

People would even joke that, because of our shaved heads, we looked alike.

The hectic schedule of endless classes and training left us very little time to talk. The majority of our conversations occurred in no more than a dozen rushed, slightly slurred words in the hallways. We were forced to communicate in other, less direct ways– a squeeze of her hand, a passing glance that revealed everything words never could.

Everyday I would watch her soft, subtle features harden under the rigorous conditions. Her skin tanned in the sun, becoming so dark it concealed her freckles. Grey bags appeared under her eyes as they began to droop from the endless nights of fragmented sleep.

We were assigned to the same troop at the end of our training period.

The night before our initial departure was the first time we were able to talk to one another. We started out slow, testing the waters that had remained stagnant for almost a year.

“How have you been?”

“Decent. You?”

“Same.”

“I can’t believe training is finally over– I wasn’t sure I’d make it.”

“Yeah, but the hardest has yet to come.”

“Yeah.”

Silence. We’d run out of small talk.

“Adam?”

“Hm?” Oh shit, here it comes.

“Why?” Knew it.

“Why what?” Maybe I was wrong?

“Why did you follow me?” Nope.

I didn’t have a good answer to that. I knew the truth wouldn’t satisfy her.

I gave it to her anyways. “Because I love you.” She opened her mouth but I didn’t give her a chance to speak. “I didn’t want to live a life without you. I didn’t want to waste the precious time we have together missing you. I don’t want to wake up in the morning and know you’re somewhere I can’t reach you.” Drop the mic and walk away.

Her mouth closes. She didn’t have anything to say. I could see it in her eyes that she wanted to forgive me but couldn’t. Anger and betrayal remained etched into her irises. I knew it would take a while for the resentment to fade and nothing I could say would change that.

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