I inhale deeply as the air courses through my lungs. My heart beats hard against my chest and I can feel the blood alive in my veins. My legs push faster than usual.
I run from the concealed faces hiding behind their sins and captagon, weapons drawn at the ready. But that’s just a developing trauma; a brutal reality for so many. Or maybe no longer a reality, but an end. A life over too soon when there’s so much beauty still to be appreciated. And it’s deeply unfair.
Brave ones sit in monotonous wait. They face a bleak theatre, the actors’ strings cut loose, limp. His line could be called next.
The home front is strong, united. We dig graves and fill them with tears. Oceans for the unaccounted for, the burned, and broken, never to return. They speak as if there is a distinction between those in uniform; as if a life can be reduced to its clothing.
But I saw the look in your mother’s eyes. She would carry your weapon and don your boots if it meant she could
feed you one more time.
Or hug you.
Or do anything for you, really.
You feel the ground shake. The explosion burst in your heart. You wonder if someone, someday, might walk along the flowers that sway in the breeze of the air that feels like your last.
You may be surrounded in black, sweating in your tank questioning if anyone cares, if this is how it ends. You may be proud of this moment. Proud to bring your people home. We are eternally grateful!
But just know, just know how many people would swap seats with you if it meant you could sit the bar exam next month, the one you spent so long studying for. Just know how many of your nation would swap you out to see your light shine.
I am safe and cocooned. I haven’t heard a siren in days. I feel safe to run and breathe, to pause and smell the purple roses. Yet in the South, a girl my age takes her final breaths because her heart can’t take it anymore.