The massive hall bubbled with life; so crowded with people and filled with splendor one could easily become invisible and left unnoticed. But the old lady in the corner didn’t long for attention. Instead, she sat alone in the background, and savored moments of loneliness as everyone around her remembered the time that claimed her youth and changed her life forever. Her tired eyes roamed the crowd, and registered but a few wrinkled faces—survivors like herself. Most of the audience belonged to the much younger generations that couldn’t fathom what it meant to live in a time when peace and freedom were so out of reach one could only dream about them. Nevertheless, it was admirable hundreds had gathered to remember this war from long ago, and pay their respect to the victims who had lost their lives during the three long years of excruciating cruelty and violence.
Though she had experienced her fair share of warfare, this was the first time they persuaded her to participate in such an event. Year after year, she refused to partake in these ceremonies, simply because remembering caused her too much pain. But the sixtieth anniversary of peace was marked by an unveiling of the painting she had believed to be long lost in the flames of battle, and so she had agreed to come, just to see it again. Tears welled up in her eyes as distant memories assailed her mind. She could almost reach back in time and see the vast empty canvas, a pallet filled with dark paint and the sight of hell all over again.
The blast of speakers disrupted the images. The story of The Great War, and the two nations that had started it for reasons unfathomable to most human beings, echoed through the hall. One after the other, the survivors took the stand, and uncovered the extent of hatred that ruled the country of Nyrma in those awful times. Some reflected on the horrors they had been forced to endure in the camp depicted on the painting. Their testimonies were bone chilling; so painful and familiar since she herself had lived through them. They remembered the soldiers’ cruelty, and the man who had been responsible for all the ugliness in Obsidian—Commander Damien Crane. It was the name she would never forget. Even after all these years, it still made her stir with heavy emotions.
Then, through a mist of remembrances, she heard them utter her name, and it was her turn to tell her story and answer their questions. They helped her onto the stand and seated her next to the painting. There were clasps and clamor, but she paid no heed to it. At first, she remained quiet, gazing at the silent anticipating crowd. The reporter asked her if she was all right, but she offered him no answer. Searching through the mass of strangers, she spotted the face of her son. He smiled at her, and suddenly the memories she held bottled up inside for so long became overwhelming. Layers upon layers of events in her life dispersed before her eyes until, once again, she felt like the helpless eighteen-year-old girl she had once been; a young soul trapped in hell with no salvation or end in sight. Her mind travelled back to the small house in the suburbs of Kalghary where her mother waited for her—where it all began. She closed her eyes and regressed to the past, reliving the story she kept hidden from the world for so long. It was a tale filled with painful memories, and telling it wouldn’t be easy, but she wanted to get it off her chest before taking her last breath.
Once again, she faced the silent crowd. The pressure on her chest became too much to bear, and the words poured out of her in an unstoppable flood of pain.