The eyes of a young man and woman catch amid the deafening chaos around them. For a split second their pupils interlock, forming a conduit. An unspoken exchange.
Maybe, perhaps, things could have been different if they had met in a quiet cafe, a restaurant, or even a bustling little tavern. Anywhere, absolutely anywhere, but here.
It is possible that they might have laughed at each others accents, or tried to teach one another new words as they strolled together on a cool evening. He may have listened intently as she told him stories about her grandmother. She might have found herself enthralled by his boyhood tales of adventures in his homeland. If their chance meeting were different, they may have bid one another a cordial goodnight, or perhaps awoken the next morning in one another’s embrace.
If only they met anywhere else but here.
This is not where a young man and woman can listen to one another, or even indulge in anything more than a fleeting glance. In fact, here, on this field, a glance is over before it begins. The glance is overridden — vaporized — by a story. Neither of them wrote the story, but they cannot escape it. It is a story people who are evil, hateful, aggressive, greedy, intolerant, and spiteful of diplomacy.
It is their story about each other.
Her reaction time is a split second faster than his. Her hands, just slightly more stable.
She fills his torso with bullets.
What if they had met anywhere but on this battlefield?
As the young man slumps to the ground, grasping for a final, agonizing breath of life, questions flash through her mind: Why do we kill strangers whom we have never met? Why does our belief in imaginary boundary lines — markers so feebly drawn on a map — warrant the assassination of another person? Why are the orders of the elite and the mythology of the state so hungry for the blood of the fallen? What if we did not run so obediently into these bloody fields; these fields where young men and women annihilate and destroy one another?
On a battlefield, she could have never afforded the chance that he was not wondering the same things.
The odds were too great that he would have shot first.
He was, after all, the enemy.
Today we remember the lovers and friends who killed one another before they had a chance to meet.
Lest we forget that every act of war is derived from a story about why another person is the enemy.
What better way to pay respect to our fallen and honour our veterans than to create a world where young men and women need not kill each other in bloody fields?