What Was Lost
By James Briar
Copyright April 2011
The sound never came. I knew the gun had been fired. Somehow I knew. There was no pain, only a strange sensation, as if the ground beneath me had fallen away and I was being suspended in mid-air, frozen in a borderless void. A fog engulfed my mind and in the blackness the memory of these most recent events began to blur until they were just a vague collection of distorted images, as if someone else had lived them and I was merely remembering a tale told.
The camp. The sky. The barbed-wire walls. The guards, their faces bare and expressionless. The journey from my cell to the muddy yard in my brown uniform, whereon watched my brothers, fellow captives. The executioner stood behind me, and in that all-too-brief moment before the cloth was pulled over my eyes, I looked up and saw Isaac. The firm, brave expression on his young face emboldened me, and as the deep scarlet skies were blotted out with the darkness of my blindfold, I stopped shaking. My heartbeat slowed, and my mind went to the Almighty. My prayer was silent, but was shouted inside me. Remember me, Father. Forgive me and strengthen me. Remember me.
Then the darkness was complete. My legs gave way, my posture relaxed, the aches and bruises that covered me seemed to fade to nothing. I was falling forward for what seemed like an eternity. I was expecting the earth to come rushing up to meet me, to fill my mouth with the filthy mush of the camp floor. But I hit no ground. I was just there; present, prevailing. Some emptiness had taken me. Lazily, I became aware of my thoughts. I was thinking. Thinking. Did dead men think? I saw in reflection the shadow of what had happened, which now seemed such an insignificant thing. I was subsisting. For what, I was not sure.