The Girl Who Cried War
Author: coritherien

Chapter 18

May 10th, 2008

Billy was nudging me with his toe.  “That’s her, Bucko?” he kept calling.  “That’s her?”

I’d seen her a few moments ago with her back to me.  Now, with her striking green eyes not three feet away, I couldn’t deny her.  I was rambling on about my dreams and I realized I must’ve sounded like a lunatic but I couldn’t help it.

I struggled free from the grasp of the soldier restraining me and held my hands up.  “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I told him.  “I’m fine.”  He eyed me suspiciously and remained close, but kept his hands to himself.

I turned back to the girl, who looked pale and disconcerted now, and did my best to sound sane.  “Look,” I said slowly, “I know I’m not making sense to you…hell, I’m not making sense to me, not for the last few months.  All I know is that I’ve been seeing your face every day for a whole.  I thought I was imagining you, but here you are.”

I’d been taking subtle steps closer but now the black soldier put a hand on my chest and stepped between the girl and me.  He gave me a warning glance and I nodded apologetically.

The girl, however, sidestepped him.  Her eyebrows knitted together in confusion and, despite the heat, goose bumps erupted on her arms.  She shook her head, denying a voice only she could hear, and her dark hair was sent tumbling down.  It reached almost to her elbows; it was much longer than it was in my dream.

“What’s your name?”  Her voice was soft and sweet, and more familiar than I expected.

I blanched.  “I, uh…I don’t know.”

She cocked a questioning eyebrow.  I didn’t know how to explain.

Billy stepped in.  “He don’t remember who he is, miss,” he said casually.  He could’ve been predicting a rain storm.  “He’s got what them doctors been calling amnesia.”

She addressed Billy now.  “What happened to him?”

“Oh, he got caught in the blast by the market place back in January,” he murmured.  He started to laugh.  “They brought him into the ward in only his underwear!  All the rest of his clothes were blasted off.”  He cracked right up.  The rest of us exchanged uncomfortable glances.

The black, bespectacled soldier studied me for a moment.  “That isn’t a popular area,” he said.  “What business did you have there?”

I was shrugged.  I was starting to feel helpless; I’d forgotten how abhorred that feeling is.  “I don’t know, Romano.  I don’t remember.”

Before I knew what happened, every face before me paled.  Eyes widened, mouths gaped.  The soldier patted his uniform for a moment and then gripped the front of my shirt threateningly.  “I’m not wearing a nametag,” he spat, but I think he was more bewildered than angry.  “How do you know my name?”

Romano.  I threw the name around in my head a few times.  It wasn’t unfamiliar, but I had no idea where it came from.  And then from the deep, unfrequented recesses of my memory burst a conversation that felt like it had taken place a lifetime ago.

“Anthony Romano,” I breathed before I could forget again.  “You married Allie, your high school sweetheart, right before you were shipped out.  The two of you haven’t even had your honeymoon yet.”

It was like the first time I woke in the ward.  I couldn’t think of the name for chicken, but as soon as it came to me, I couldn’t believe I’d ever forgotten it.  Romano.

He stepped back, and nearly went limp.  I thought he might faint.  “How the hell—” he began, but he couldn’t find the words.  He swooped down and retrieved the long forgotten photo I’d dropped.  He shook off the glass and held it up beside my face.  Then he did go limp.  Another soldier caught him in true trust fall fashion.

Romano was breathing shallowly.  “Holy shit.”


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