The War

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A kiss in the snow led to a train pulling out of its station. But that was four years ago. Since then, Camila has tried to move on and start her life, but her past haunts her. She turns her grief into poetry and tells her story. But how can she write when her story's changed?

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Fall {I}

The tall grass swayed to the melody of the warm September breeze, and we laid there, a private audience to an autumn symphony -

My pen feverishly scratched against the pages of my journal. My thoughts were too poetic to stop anytime soon.

The clouds dotted the sky like freckles and -

I was losing my train of thought. The worst possible thing that could have happened at this moment, just happened.


I tossed my pen down and drumed my fingers against my temples.

and what?

I revisited my journal and scratched out the part about the clouds.

It was a September concerto.

A September Concerto.

The harmony of those words overwhelmed me. It’s perfect, I thought to myself.

There was a soft knock at the door. “Entrez,” I said without turning from my work.

“Il y a une lettre pour vous,” | There’s a letter for you| my landlady said from the door.

“Merci,” I muttered.

It smelled of fallen leaves and the coming holidays.

“No,” I scratched out the ‘coming holidays’ part. The landlady was still in my doorway. “Oui?”

“C’est de ta maman,” |It’s from your mother| she insisted and set the letter down in front of me.

I quickly read it and tossed it aside.

“Bien?” |Everything is ok?| The landlady asked while reaching for the letter.

“C’est en espagnol.” |It’s in Spanish| She put the letter down and waited for me to summarize it. I sighed and translated, “Mon père rentre à la maison et ma mère veut queue je sois là pour l’accueillir.” |My father is coming home, and my mother wants me to be there to welcome him.|

She began to pull out my trunks.

“Je peux le faire, Mme Bernard.” |I can do it, Mrs. Bernard.|

She finished pulling my trunks out and left silently.

With a sigh, I organized my papers on the floor and started packing.


For a Tuesday afternoon, the train station was awfully busy. The infamous Parisian rain nearly soaked through my overcoat and drenched my hair despite the umbrella I carried. The whistle on the train blew, and I hurried to board and escape the rain. Soon enough, the train pulled out of the station and was on the way to Madrid.

The trip home took less than a day, and before I knew it, I was at the doorstep of my parents’ house. I knocked on the door.

“Camila!” My mother cried as she swung the door open wide. She showered me with a million kisses, and before I get the chance to say a word, she barraged me with questions, “How was your trip? How are you? Have you been eating? Is that all that you brought?”

“Good, good, yes, and yes.”

She hugged me again and adjusted my dress. “Te extraño, mija,” |I’ve missed you, my daughter.|

Once I stepped inside, she informed me, “Tu padre llega a casa mañana.” |Your father arrives tomorrow|

She opened the door to my bedroom, which was just as I left it. There notes were tacked to the walls and papers covered the floor like a rug. It was chaos, but it felt like home. Our housekeeper, Priscilla, places my trunks at the foot of my bed.

“Bienvenido a casa, Camila,” she welcomed me warmly as she started unpacking my clothes.

“How long are you staying?” my mother asked as she fluffed my pillows and opened the curtains.

“I don’t know, when will you get sick of me?”


The remainder of the day flew by as I wrote out line after line of my poem, only to scratch them all out. drum my fingers against the floor, waiting for more ideas.

His eyes were the color of the forest, and just as mysterious.

No. This isn’t about him. Frustrated, I toss my pen down and stare up at the ceiling. What is this about?

It’s about...

I groan and lay back onto the oak floors warmed by the sun.

It’s about...

My fingers drum against the floor, eager to discover what the poem will be about.


It’s about September.

Memories of September flood my mind - leaves falling to the ground, horseback rides, and rainy days. I smile at the images of picnics and tree swings that dance across my brain. Hide and seek in the forest and... him. It’s always him.

I smack myself in the forehead and try to erase him from my mind. That only makes it worse. Memories of him crash over me like a wave.

I see us camping, and reading in the library, and stargazing.

Tears begin to flood my eyes.

I see us dancing, swimming, and going on adventures.

The tears fall freely onto my dress.

He’s smiling and laughing and -


He’s dead. I sit up and let the tears fall. My heart aches and my head pounds as sadness settles on me like a blanket.

It’s alright to feel, mija. My mother tried to comfort me.

You don’t have to be strong all the time. My father said in a memory.

He wouldn’t have wanted to see you cry. His mother said at the funeral.

I cry for the moments we could have had - the moments we should have had.

Every tear that falls is a salty, wet reminder that I’m alone.

The tears go as quickly as they came and I laugh. The sound is empty and sad, and it bounces off the walls of my bedroom. If anyone were watching, I must have looked insane - crying one minute and laughing the next. And that’s exactly how I felt.

I laughed more as I stood up and shook out my skirts. The mirror in front of me testified to my insanity. The reflection exhibited a girl gone wild. The hazel eyes that looked back at me wet shiny with tears that left little white paths on my cheeks. A portrait of insanity.

Outside, the sun was setting, and my room was cast in orange light. Before I could realize what I was doing, I swept the papers from the floor and lifted the plants. All memories of Bastien lived in this little crawl space, hidden from the light. Gingerly, I pulled out a letter. The paper was thin between my fingers, but was heavy with memo.


Tears cloud my vision.

It’s been a month since I’ve left but without you, it feels like forever. I can’t stop thinking about that day, that kiss in the snow. You were right, being a soldier is not all I made it out to be. Nevertheless, I love it. I spend my nights around the fires with my regiment. They’re a good group of men and even better fighters. I can’t tell you where I am, but it’s beautiful here. Remember the trail we’d go riding on behind my house? It looks like that but so much more stunning. Although I admit, I’d rather be riding with you.

I smiled at the letter and reached for another.

I miss you. But you know that. They’ve promoted me. I’m now the captain of a small, highly trained group. I know you’re rolling your eyes, but I’m proud of it. I ran into your brother a week ago, and he says to stay out of trouble. Obviously, that’s not possible.

I read letter after letter as the sun goes down. Every single one brings a little bit of joy, and every single one ends with:

Never forget I love you,


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