One of my favourites. A couple lost in a riot.
He was there when it happened. He was there when she died.
They were in the heart of the riot, in the depth of the fighting between the police and the protestors. They never thought it would end up like this; with so much violence, they wanted peace, freedom, equality for all and what do they get? Death. Destruction. Devastation. Buildings were on fire in the background, flames licking high into the dark sky and the wails of the walking wounded ripped through your soul as you wended you way through them all.
He had to get to her.
They were forced apart earlier on by the sheer strength of the surrounding chaos; they had reached out in a final, desperate attempt to stay together but to no avail. He could see nothing but the continuous rush of people, losing her to the distance.
All the while he searched for her he feared for her safety, he knew she could look after herself but didn’t want to take that chance, she could be bleeding, crying out into the darkness for him but he wouldn’t be able to hear her above the din of the mob. This thought drove him onwards as he became more frantic when he couldn’t spot her among the mesh of fighters, he called out her name and asked the fallen whether they had seen a girl of medium height, late teens, with long brown hair and deep blue eyes wearing scuffed trainers, jeans and a once-white shirt. All denied knowledge of this character.
Then, in one of the back alleyways he saw her. Relief flooded him as he ran towards her, shouting her name. The lane was empty save for one of the injured; his leg was gashed and bloody with cuts and bruises littering his face that was contorted into an expression of restrained suffering while she bound the cut tight with a piece of his t-shirt, trying to stop the blood flow.
When he yelled for her, her face whipped round as quickly as an owl, sending her loose hair flying around her shoulders to settle against her chest. A thankful smile lit up her face seeing that it was him seeking for her. She rose to her feet and started forward to meet him.
At that same moment, a figure appeared from inside a doorway, obstructing his view of her. A flash of silver sliced through the air and as fast as the mysterious person appeared, they were gone again, taking off into the backdrop and leaving her standing stock still, shock spread across her smooth visage as she examined the hilt of a knife protruding from her stomach.
Time slowed to a halt, each second lasting ten times longer than it should do. He froze, petrified, unable to take even a step. His eyes must have been deceiving him; it was all a bad dream, a nightmare it had to be. She looked back up at him and mouthed something unintelligible, apologetic empathy and regret directed at him. She fell to her knees and it seemed to dawn upon her that he couldn’t understand what she was saying, so she simplified it to two words; “I’m sorry”.
He knew she was sorry for the grief her death would surely cause him. She was sorry for being selfish, that she would not have to suffer as he did. She was sorry for leaving him behind, alone and afraid with no loving arms to comfort him. She was sorry for doubling the burden on his already weighted shoulders. He was only glad that he would be the one to bear the loss and not her; he did not think she would be strong enough to continue their crusade; she was too kind and forgiving and caring for that.
Those two words conveyed a whole lot of meaning.
The knife was so deep that there was a triangular lump in the back of her shirt where the blade had gone right through her, she wrapped her hands around the handle and tried to pull it out. The pain must have been excruciating because it took a few short, sharp tugs to dislodge it. It clattered to the concrete pavement with a metallic clang that echoed throughout the passage, the noise bouncing off the high, colourless walls. A crimson butterfly grew on her pale shirt in the place where her abdomen had been pierced.
It was this that thawed him out, regaining the use of his limbs. He sprinted over and dropped to his knees beside her, catching her as she collapsed, and then lowered her carefully down. Frenziedly, he ripped off part of his shirt in order to prevent her losing much more blood, but she knew his efforts were futile and laid a hand on his to stop him squandering energy.
She had minutes left.
Tears rolled down his face in numbers and dripped pathetically onto the ground beside her head, she looked into his eyes and smiled sadly, reassuring him that she wasn’t afraid and revealing how glad she was; that he was there in her last few moments. He sobbed but didn’t try to hide it, let her see how much he cares! Let her see how much he loves her!
Using her last grain of effort, she lifted her upper body off the floor with a whimper of pain, and pressed her rapidly cooling lips to his. “I love you,” she whispered for the first time ever, the words he had imagined her saying for years and wished that some day she would. Although, he never thought it would be like this. He leaned forward and their tongues entwined in a dance sparkling with electricity that they begged would last forever...but it was not to be.
“I love you too,” he murmured between their recently parted lips.
The last thing he saw before she slumped to the street was her eyes lose their light and lustre, and become cold and clouded.
He wasn’t even sure if she heard him.
He hung over her lifeless body, unable to comprehend that she was finally gone. He enveloped her in his arms and rocked to and fro, hoping – but not believing – that this must all be some kind of cruel joke, or that there must be some way to bring her back. He roared out her name to the surrounding shadow that was the night and let his weeping wails join with those of the walking wounded.