Flash Fiction – Third Place!

Goodbye by Jullian Brown

“Are you really leaving?” I asked Wallace as we stood at the old bridge where we used to play as kids. The one where we used to walk past every day to and from school. The one where I cried on his shoulder when my mother passed away. The one where he proposed to me.

“I’m sorry Amy. The way things are now, we can’t continue living like this.” He looked at the river, not looking into my eyes. I knew that meant that he was serious. “The people who have all the gold has all the power, meanwhile we who have nothing just rot against the streets until we die.”

“But… Isn’t there something else you can do?” I grabbed hold of his hand, squeezed it, trying to get him to look at me. “Going off into some war so we could have something? I’ve read the news, I’ve seen the videos. We’re losing this war. Not one of the soldiers have come back.”

“At least you’ll have something!” Wallace screamed, something I haven’t seen since we were teenagers. “Soldier’s families get enough money so they can make a living, so even if I die, you won’t have to suffer.”

“Are you an idiot?” Tears started streaming out of my eyes. My heart wanted to jump out. “If you do die, then I’ll be left all alone! No one will be there by my side. I’ll be left without you! I don’t think I can live with that.”

There was a silence that loomed over both of us. Neither of us wanted to say more. I continued to cry, holding his hand. I could feel myself shake as tears fell from my eyes and into his hand. Then I could feel his soft hand touch my head. I knew what this meant as well. This meant that he made up his choice. He will see something through until the very end. Today, at the very same bridge we spent so many days together, in the middle of a freezing autumn, all the leaves falling from their homes and touch against the hard cold ground, he will make a very important choice.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————–

“Then I promise. I promise that I won’t die. I’ll come back to you, no matter what.” I looked at him to see him flashing his special cheshire grin. The smile that he showed me when we first met. All those years ago. “I promise.”

“You liar.” I don’t know who I was speaking to. Myself? A ghost? I don’t know. I sat all alone, in front of that bridge. The one we had fun. The one where he proposed. The one he lied straight to my face.

Three years ago, before he set off, he promised me that he would return to me after the war was over. I was stupid enough to believe him. I should’ve remembered when he gives that cheshire grin, that it would always lead to trouble, no matter what circumstances. This time was no difference.

Every day I waited for him to come home, only to get nothing in return. Every day I would come back to this very bridge, hoping to see him standing there waiting for me. I would run up to him. Hug him, kiss him, never letting him go again.

I’ve been living better since he left. I always had enough gold to get food and make a living for myself. I’ve been doing nothing much besides sitting and waiting for that fateful day he would return.

Yesterday an officer knocked at my door. He gave me a photograph of him and told me what happened. The officer explained how he was patrolling a town when he was caught in a major explosion, leaving no survivors. I don’t remember much what happened next. Apparently I’ve just been sitting down, doing nothing all day.

But today was different. I know what I’m about to do today. I sat up from the bench and felt that cold autumn breeze. I walked over to the bridge and stared at the river below. I could hear children playing just a few inches away.

“Please don’t look.” I whispered to them, hoping they heard me. I climbed over the railings and continued to stare. At first I saw nothing but darkness. Then I saw him. I saw him holding out his hand, inviting me to come join him. I smiled, completely ignoring the screams in the background. As tears ran down my face, I said “I love you. And I’ll see you soon.”

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