Moonshadow Play: Flash Fiction - a Humble Offering to Doris James (MizBejabbers)
When you keep your Heart open, you are never alone. You are in constant contact with all Love forms of the Universe!— Sean Dragon
About Doris James MizBejabbers (MizBejabbers)
It is so beautiful when you feel love for someone you have never met! Isn't it? Just because you read a comment, she or he has written to someone else. A comment that strengthens your belief that this world has so many Diamond Souls! So many more than those who we see in the microworld each one of us lives! That is the way I knew Doris, and I started to follow her. To be honest, it is difficult for me not to love someone who likes Sir Terry Pratchett!
Doris is an amazing writer and a luminous Heart! This story is a humble gift for her, and my willing is to help more readers to find the "treasures" she has created! So, at the same time, it might become a gift for many more...
Gratitude, my dear Doris! Gratitude for the beauty, the knowledge and the help you are offering to us, and Peace always!
Time is a drug. Too much of it kills you.— Terry Pratchett, Small Gods
It was freezing cold. The kind you feel it in your bones. Peter wrapped his coat tighter around his body, trying to warm up a bit. In vain! The cold had already nested under its thick army clothes. He decided to walk for one more time around the sentry box. He still had the hope that moving could keep him warm. It was the seventh round with no result though. For the seventh time, he cursed his luck of having guard duty a frosty night like this one.
He entered into the sentry box and squeezed into a corner. The moonlight shone on his face through the broken glass. It was a January full moon, travelling alone in the sky, sending its light to reflect on the frozen snow that was covering everything. Peter looked at his watch with puzzlement and then put it near to his ear. "No, it's working", he mumbled. So it had been only half an hour since his departure from the relatively warm barracks to come to this fridge. Peter thought about the quarters. Forty men with their breaths and a miserable wood-burning stove were keeping a bearable temperature which it seemed ideal to him now.
Peter didn't know much about science, but it came to his mind that time has to be relative to temperature. He couldn't explain it otherwise. When someone was in the warmth of the barracks, half an hour seemed like ten minutes, while here, in this freezing sentry box, half an hour seemed like three hours. "Time probably also freezes", he thought, "like air and water".
Peter had never considered time as a friend. It was often working against him, like this very moment. On the other hand, a bottle of whiskey was always a good friend though still missing a moment like this.
"Accept it..." he whispered "... you are alone, without friends, lost in the frozen and lazy time. And you will be here for at least ninety minutes, which they are going to be more like five hours."
"Though..." he twitched "... there is a friend; here and now!"
He put his hand into his jacket's pocket and felt the pack of cigarettes. A smoke could warm him up now, and maybe it also could give a little push to the old-lazy-time. It is forbidden to smoke when you are a guard on duty. So, the risk of this action had already made his blood circulate faster, increasing his body temperature.
He got out of the sentry box to take a look at the circumstances before "committing the crime". The guard post was elevated, meaning that between him and the ground, there were fifteen feet of a concrete pillar and a narrow spiral staircase. From this height, he could supervise all the around area. Under the bright moonlight —amplified by the white of the snow— Peter was able to see to a great distance. Both the forest outside the barbed wire and the space inside the camp.
Any officer who would decide to come for inspection could only approach the post from one route. At this moment, nobody seemed, in that direction, within a distance of at least half a mile.
After making sure that there was not even a suspicion of movement anywhere, Peter re-entered the box, crouched in a corner from which he could oversee the road and pulled out the package. He put a cigarette in his mouth and, trying to hide the flame in his jacket, lit it. By the first puff, he felt the smoke flooding him voluptuously and leaned back relaxed.
A strange tapping coming from the glass behind his back made his blood run cold, colder than the snow which was covering the post. His mind, being influenced by the whole atmosphere, was trying to process the facts. After several torturous seconds, he realized that the metal barrel of his gun, hanging on his right shoulder, struck the glass as he leaned against it.
With a sigh of relief, he emptied his lungs and stood still for a few seconds to calm down. After collecting all of his pieces, he slowly placed the gun against the corner. He took another puff from the cigarette with his eyes at the rifle.
"Damned things..." he whispered "... they can do only harm. So many lives taken..."
An invisible hand grabbed his heart, and a knot crawled up his throat, making him stop whispering. His mind began to overflow with images of his life. And his whole life was Andreas.
They first met when Peter was eight and Andreas nine years old. After the first glance, they felt an inner connection. As if they have been friends since forever. They knew from this very first moment that they would be together until the end. And so they were, in a tragic way.
In the following years, they shared everything, lived the wildest childhood adventures together, the most daring dreams, until they became brothers, in a mystic ceremony that they had schemed. They had never quarrelled, and if they ever came to some conflict, Andreas always gave ground, saying: "I'm older, I have to protect you and not argue with you."
At the same time, he was defending him, even when Peter was wrong. Numerous times Andreas took responsibility for Peter's mistakes to protect him from punishment. Unfortunately, all these had a harmful result. Instead of helping Peter become a better person had turned him into something like a spoiled little brother. A little brother who had learned to exploit Andreas' love and avoid his responsibilities.
And then Helen came into their lives, just when Peter became eighteen. It was like she had come out of a beautiful dream. They both fell in love with her. Crazy love, at first sight. Both of them. But she could love only one; she had to choose. So, Andreas stepped back, once again, for the sake of his 'little brother'. And it was the last time.
Andreas repeatedly asked Peter if he was sure of his love.
"Are you sure that you want to spend the rest of your life with Helen? Are you determined to do your best, trying to make her happy?"
Peter's words were: "I want nothing more than this in my life."
"Then you have to pledge..." said Andreas "... that you will love her forever. Take an oath, in the name of our friendship, that you will always take care of her, no matter what."
Peter did so without much thought.
Then Andreas ended his life with a gun like this, leaving behind only his pain, in a letter with a few words. Those words had been etched into Peter's mind, and now they were burning his eyes:
"I love you both, and I don't want to get between you two. But I can't live without having her as my wife. My brother, please take care of her for me. Don't forget what you have pledged to me. We'll meet again, I know it."
Peter fell on his knees and burst into tears, for the first time after Andrea's death. This very moment, Peter finally realized that he had failed his brother by breaking his promise and betraying everything they had lived together, like brothers.
Just four months after Andrea's loss, Peter's 'crazy' love started fading away. He began to feel their romance binding him more than he was ready to endure. His reckless behaviour has been provoking arguments, all the time, making her unhappy. And now, while he was away from her, serving in the army, he had some strange thoughts. He wasn't even sure if he loved her anymore.
Peter froze up. His heart stopped beating. Thoughts were running wild in his mind without being able to put any of them in order. Fortunately, the burning end of the forgotten cigarette brought him back to reality by hurting his fingers.
He jumped up, grabbed the gun and went out of the box shouting:
"Halt! Who goes there?"
His hands were shaking. The gun barrel was going
up and down while Peter was trying to aim at the source of the voice. There was a man at the end of the ladder, holding the book in which the inspecting officers leave their remarks.
"What's up, bro? Did you fall asleep? Or you were hiding to smoke?" said the man.
"No, sir..." Peter stammered as he was searching for an excuse. At the same time, he was trying to see the rank of the man, but he could not distinguish his badge since a cloud had covered the moon, reducing the light. "... but I was freezing to death ... I went inside, trying to warm up a little ... I didn't see you..." he finally managed to throw some words.
"You are reckless, my friend. And when someone is reckless, he hurts himself. But most of all he hurts those whom he has promised to love..." was the answer.
The strange man wrote something in the book, left it where it was before, and he walked away without saying anything else. Peter had left dumbfounded watching him walking parallel to the barbed wire. In a little while, he got lost behind a thicket.
Peter fell on the railing and almost collapsed. "Excellent! The guy has definitely written an awful report, and that means some days in prison for me. Goddamned officers!..." he growled.
Peter decided to go down the stairs and find out what this jackass had written. He checked around and cautiously began to descend step by step.
A question tormented his mind! "How the hell didn't I see him when I checked before I got in?" Calculating now the time someone would need to cross the clearing, Peter was sure that when he came out to check, the officer should be in the middle of it. "So, how the hell did I manage to miss him?"
At that moment, the moon came out of the clouds, and the light shone on the icy snow. For a second, it blinded him. When his eyes got used to the moonlight again, he noticed something that sent shivers down his spine. There were no footprints in the snow anywhere in the direction the man had gone. And when he looked more carefully, he saw that the only trails were his own and those of the previous guard.
"What the hell is going on here?" he whispered.
Peter bent to pick up the notebook. In the moonlight, he saw what the man had written.
The patrol soldiers ran like crazy when they heard Peter's screams. They found him in a state of shock, trembling all over, hitting his face with the notebook and shouting. They tried to calm him down, and it took them several minutes to dislodge the pad from his hands. They read the last report:
"My brother, why don't you take care of her? Why do you make her miserable? Don't forget what you have pledged.
Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.— Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
© 2020 Ioannis Arvanitis