We collapsed, breathless, as we passed through the gateway. As the barrier closed we finally knew we were safe. The echoes of shouts and bullets faded away. Either we had escaped or were just another two fleeing bodies now lying dead or wounded on the bridge. The commandant of the militia no doubt hoped we were wounded so we could be arrested, tortured and finally executed after a trial that made a mockery of justice. Death was always the penalty for those who dared to speak against the system.
The system that dictated how every aspect of life should be by keeping the people destitute of money, hope, faith and love. Everyone wore the same clothing, grey trousers and a white shirt. Too hot in summer and not warm enough in winter. I looked at you the dampness of the mist making your shirt cling to your body and felt anger seeing the fabric clinging to your half-starved frame.
I recalled the first time we had met battling for a crust of bread in the streets of the old town. You had stared into my black eyes sharp with desperation and stopped fighting telling me to eat it. It had been my first food in over a week. We had worked together after that. Begging for a day’s work each morning, and doing whatever task was asked of us so we had a few coins to buy food. Each night walking for as long as we could, until we reached the border town.
We had stayed there, just across the bridge for several weeks so as not to rouse the suspicions of the militia. We could never be seen together in daylight as any sign of collaboration would be seized upon. Each night we would talk in the woods close to the hostel where we shared a room.
We were just biding our time until to this moment. Now as I looked into your eyes, the eyes of the man who gave me courage and faith in a different future, I could let the memories dissipate like petals on a breeze.
©JG Farmer 2013