The Girl Who Cried War
Author: coritherien

Chapter 19
Dark, Almost Black

May 10th, 2008

“Holy shit.”

It’s all Anthony kept repeating.  I glanced at Fontaine, who had caught up with us and was now gaping like he was watching a circus act.

“Do you know who I am?” the dark haired man asked Anthony.  He wasn’t testing him; he was hoping for an answer.

Romano seemed to stun himself when he nodded.  “Yes,” he whispered.  “Yes, but I hardly believe it.”

The man was hanging on every word, hoping for a name.  He was obliged.

Richardson.”

Now it was my turn to go limp.  I clutched Anthony’s arm to remain upright.  “Don’t you dare, I spat, hanging on to him but repelling him at the same time.  “He’s dead.  You watched him die!  Anthony, don’t do this.  I came to terms with that once, I won’t do it again.”

The dark haired man looked concerned then.  “Why are you crying?”  He took a step towards me.

I almost laughed.  Irony was a fickle bitch.  “You want to know why?”  I snatched Nate’s photo from Anthony’s grasp and nearly shoved it down the man’s throat.  “This is Nate Richardson.  He is who Romano, here, thinks you are, but you’re not.”  My voice cracked and my throat constricted a second time.  “You can’t be.  I buried him.”

Erin,” Anthony pleaded.  “Erin, they never found a body.”

“That’s because it was burned!”  My knees buckled now, and a cloud of dirt erupted around me when I hit the ground.  “I spent months waiting for Nate to knock on my front door, to tell me that it was all a mistake, and I can’t do that again, Anthony.  If you’re wrong—”

“But what if I’m not?”  He pulled me up by my elbow.  “Erin, look at him.  Look.”

And though every fiber in my body turned away, I faced dark haired man.  He looked confused, like he was working something out in his head.  I studied him for a long time.  The facial hair threw me off.  It masked what would be Nate’s dimples.  His hair was longer than Nate ever allowed, and his skin was filthy.  He has burns marking all visible parts of his body, something else Nate never had, but the hopeful part of my mind argued that they were battle scars from the blast.

I saved his eyes for last, because I knew they’d tell me the most.  I looked at them now.  Dark brown, almost black, they shone with a perplexity that had built for months.  They were widened in an innocence I knew all too well and soon enough, I found the pools of innate kindness that had come to indicate love to me.

My voice sounded unfamiliar to my own ears.  “Oh, my God.”

 

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