marți, 1 aprilie 2014

The other side

The world was collapsing, and the only thing that really mattered to me was that he was alive.”

I was 23 when I knew lust and desire. And more than everything, infatuation. My only fault was that I mistook it for love. It was with someone else but my husband, a man that I could not have, someone that I should not have loved, because it was against everything that I took pride in: morality, loyalty and integrity. But who are we to lay down the law to our hearts?
It was the same war that I despised and loathed so much that brought us together and maybe, under different circumstance, things would not have been the same for us and we would have been merely acquaintances.
This war had taken its toll on all of us, for I have seen more blood and death and suffering in those past 10 months since the first attack than I have in my entire life. After the onslaught on the small village, things only grew worse in a matter of days. We thought that we had time and that everything was just a limited strife and so we waited for the things to amend. We couldn't have been more wrong.

As I was still caring for the wounded villagers, another raid took us by surprise. They came out of nowhere and I barely managed to alert the people, while everyone took a run, crippled old men and mothers with babies in their arms. I was stunned and an old woman almost had to push me out of the merciless soldiers' way. We ran in the nearby forest, where we took cover, waiting for the men's madness to burn down. I was too scared to even take a look in the village's direction and all I could hear were other people's screams. In my bewildered state, I wasn't even aware of what was happening around me.
"Unless your purpose is to roll up your skirt and go divert those men's attention from their slaughtering, I suggest you pull yourself together and change into these clothes, because I see no other way for you to get away from this with your reputation unblemished."
She must have been a well-read woman, but her words and her tone made me blush. At least she managed to turn my attention to our more critical problems.
As I was changing my dress for a pair of trousers and a man's shirt, I noticed that all the women who managed to escape along with us were doing the same with their daughters, dressing the younger girls in various clothing they took with them before they ran.
After that first night spent in the woods, I took the road all by myself, following the army's trails of destruction. Everywhere I looked I could only see ravage and grief. Innocent men crippled, guiltless children killed without the slightest sign of remorse, wives and young girls ravished all together. I never imagined so much deviltry could exist in our world. And then, the battlefields were flooded with more and more dead bodies. My only solace was that my father and brother were not among them. And neither was Gregory, thank goodness, because I wasn't ready to become widowed so soon and raise five children by myself.
The war kept going like this for almost a year and a half. I received occasional news from my mother about my family, but I never heard a word of my husband. I suspected he wasn't aware of me wandering around the realm, probably expecting to find his wife at her parents' house, safe from everything.

There were days when I actually considered fleeing there, away from the horrors that I had to face every day. But with Teacher no longer among the living ... I knew that was not an option.

That autumn, after months of poor nourishment, sleepless nights and countless miles, I fell ill with pneumonia and I had to take refuge to a nearby military camp. I would remain there almost two years, prior to the end of the war.

It was not the first time we came across each other, but the circumstances were everything but the same. He was a high-aimed man, driven by hatred and ambition against his brother. He knew that if he won this war that his brother initiated, he and his descendants would rule this land. I had none of his ambition, nor his idealism and I still remained by his side.

Those two years of my life were nothing but a blur of pure sensations. Skin sliding against skin, lips and hands exploring, caressing, until our senses were completely overwhelmed and there was nothing left but the two of us, together. Fear was our daily drug, the only thing that fueled our desire and drove us to seek comfort in each other's arms.

At the end of those two years, we knew that we were approaching the end of the war. And we were on the wrong side. He was prepared to lose everything, even his life, but I was not. We bade adieu with the last snow, two months before his brother's victory, and as he gently kissed my forehead, I knew I would never see him again.