“Whatever happens.” His dirt covered thumb swipes at the wetness under my eyes, and I wrap my fingers around his wrist. I press my face into his palm and force myself to look up at him. My heart sinks into a deep, dark cavern in my stomach at the sight of how pale he is right now. The normal wall of rock that used to cover his eyes is shattered, and behind it is something else. Around his glistening pupils and loving stare, I see something I’d never before seen in him. Cold, hard, fear. This statue of my life, this man of steel who’d always had such a strong grip on his emotions, was now absorbed by this overpowering panic. It terrifies me.

I push myself onto my toes and gaze deep into those large, fearful brown eyes. His head lowers to mine and I ever so softly press my lips against his. He doesn’t hesitate to return the favor. He parts my lips with his tongue and I willingly accept his proposal. As I let him explore the crevices of my mouth, the screaming of the evacuation sirens grows louder in my ears. He runs his hand across my hair and down my back, and I shiver as he traces his fingertips back up my spine.

Suddenly he stops and pulls away, and I watch, heartbroken, as a single solitary tear crawls down his cheek. If my stomach could sink any lower than it already had, it did in that moment. He takes a harsh breath, his face registering panic, and he repeatedly rubs his hand over my head. I slide my hands around his back and press myself into him. He wraps himself around me, enveloping me, and I feel a shudder in his chest as it rises and falls against mine. My stomach aches from withheld tears and I try to even my breath, but some sort of shriek-gasp comes out instead. He backs away and cups my chin in his sturdy hand.

“Remember.” I press my lips into a hard line and nod. He blinks rapidly, looking at the chaos occurring around us. He grips my shoulders and squeezes. “You’ve gotta go. You’ve gotta go now.” He beckons.

“I know, I know.” I swallow around the lump in my throat. “Just…. come back to me.”

He nods hastily. “I will.”

We grab each others hands, spend one more moment studying each other, then we let go. I run south. He runs north. Complete opposite directions. I hear the screams of the families around me as they make for the gates. I see smoke and fire from the courthouse as it crumbles to the ground before me. I wonder if he might actually survive this godforsaken war and come back to me. I feel my feet against the ground and the wind on my face.

And then I feel my unborn child move for the very first time.

 

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