With each passing day, the memories withered like fragments sprayed in a thousand directions lost to the pain and bitterness he felt within. As time went by he had to convince himself that these fragile memories were real and not just figments of his imagination.
The only proof he had was the silver chain which he wore round his neck with a locket that had a picture of Annabel in it. He cherished it so much that it had become a semi-god to him. He longed for the day he would see Annabel again, to feel her skin close to his, to draw from her warmth and look her in the eyes because he was beginning to doubt her existence.
Stephen met Annabel when love was at its fullest, they had started as friends with no secrets between them. After being friends for three years it took them just one night to know they had to have more and before anyone could say “Jack Robinson” they were married. Stephen soon joined the military, becoming a soldier had always been his childhood dream and you could sense the joy in him at his first parade with his lovely Annabel watching from the stands. Like the popular saying “there’s a time for everything” and soon it was time for him to fight for his country and he had to say goodbye to Annabel. She had followed him to the railway station that morning, sobbing all the way and no matter how much he tried to comfort her the tears kept flowing, finally he had to go.
It has been five years since he left home and sharing moments with Annabel has been restricted to his dreams, he was always sure to find her there, on the mountain top with her flowered gown, pretty as ever. Sometimes they ran down the hills other times they walked hand in hand and he was always disappointed to wake up and find out it was all a dream. Initially, writing to her had been so easy and interesting, he always had stories to tell her but gradually his enthusiasm weakened and his usually long and detailed letters became scribbles.
Fear was now his closest companion, watching some of his friends die was mind crippling and deep down he knew he might never see Annabel again but he had to push such thoughts aside, he knew he had to strive for survival if he ever hoped to see Annabel again; he needed to be optimistic. He had heard that the war was coming to an end, with the opposition retreating; victory was almost certain. There was going to be a “final battle” after which they could all go home . He could feel hope emanate from him like never before, alas! The war would soon be over.
Judgement day soon arrived and it was time to fight, he marched in his battalion to the war front, you could see the passion in their eyes, each man relishing the prospect of embracing an end to the bloodshed; their hearts now numb, the war had made demons out of them and you could tell they just couldn’t wait to experience peace and love that had become a distant friend. So they fought like never before, Stephen was no different from them, his loyalty to his country was not compromised but for the first time he was fighting for a different cause, he didn’t hear the sound of gun shots in the air, all he could hear was Annabel’s soft voice, the wailing of soldiers seemed to fade into the sweetest tune ever, this was the moment he had been waiting for.
Then the war was over, blood had become natures crayon drawing patterns on the floor, the gunshots and grenade explosions had stopped and there lay Stephen, his face towards the heavens, tears spilling uncontrollably, he knew he had but a few moment left to say a prayer or sing a tune but all he could mutter was “Annabel”, he knew he was dying but there was no prayer or sound sweeter than that name and soon life left him. And there he lay still like a perfect drawing on an artist’s canvas.