Brittle air rushed down my windpipe, flooding my lungs, filling every crevice yet also freezing me from the inside out. I didn't care. The air up here was fresh, clean and scentless. I held the air there, letting it balloon my chest up before slowly exhaling. Observing as the air around my mouth turned opaque from the warmth of my breath.
Whiskers of grass sway silently, tickling the skin on my cheek and arms while I lay on the sodden earth.
Specks of glistening white are set alight by the contrast of the black backdrop of space. Specks which can only be called specks in the broadest of terms because up close each one of those 'specks' is a vast round ball of gas or earth or fire that could probably claim our own planet as a moon or asteroid. Compared to them, I am a speck. However, to be small in this universe is but a privilege. So when my own actions are put up against that of a planets pathway around its own sun, I can only be rendered unimpressive. Every wrong doing I have ever committed seems to be erased in the shadow of its great splendour.
Or is that God? I silently laugh at myself.
"What are you smiling at?" Nigel's voice made me start even though I had heard him coming, his haggard breathing sliced through the silence as he reached the top of the hill. However his nearing presence seemed not to be of much priority to me tonight. He shouldn't be offended, nothing is of much importance to me today.
When I gave no response in the form of a smile or a shrug Nigel plonked down next to me but he didn't lay down like I was. He had his knees up close to his chest with his jacket covered arms resting on his knees.
"Wow," He breathed, ruffling a hand through his sandy coloured hair. "Isn't the view just..." He looked down at me and draw a half smile.
That was when I shrugged. I didn't much care for the sight ruins and that is what our town had be come. Only seven bricked houses remained in the town yet only squatters occupied them for it was deemed 'unfair' that those seven families should live in a house that they had paid for when everyone else had no house. Isn't society selfish. Now we all lived in tents, the size of the tent was dependant on how many people lived in it but there are always exceptions.
We destroyed each other in the war-well I say we. More like animals occupying human shells. Humans just fought against each other until the original reason for fighting was long forgotten and in its space stood vengeance and stubbornness.
I can't disagree with Nigel's statement, perhaps the grey dullness of the landscape does look better when it is hidden by the cover of darkness.
"Why'd you run out this time?" Ah. Finally the question I'd been waiting for him to ask. I pushed myself into a comfortable sitting position whilst sweeping my greasy brown hair out of my face. I hadn't felt the dampness of the blades of grass when I was laying on top of them but now with my back bare I could feel the residue left on my body. No doubt it will be the same for my backside and legs.
He looked at me, reading my face as if it were an open book.
It took Nigel a while to adjust to my silence when he returned from the war but he quickly learnt to look at me, really look at me. At my expressions, nods, shrugs, anything that would give him answers to his questions. "Ah," he'd finally seen it. "Your mum moaning about food again then?"
I nod in conformation. Food shortages were my mum's primary cause of worry, not our personal lack of income but the local food shortages. We could barely afford the food we were buying and more often than not Nigel has had to share his income with us.
"Come on." He suddenly jumped up and offered me his hand, with reluctance, I took it.
Walking down the hill was a lot easier than walking up it however, the dewy grass made it extremely difficult to keep balance.
Once we got my my tent we parted with Nigel saying "Right, I've gotta go to the centre: pick up some milk-Actually, I might do that in the morning... Anyway, laters."
I turn away from him to unzip the entrance of my tent and walk through the threshold just as I hear mum shout "Is that you Beth?"
I clap twice meaning yes;one clap meant no.
"Are you going to bed now?" Mum spoke from her compartment on the left side of the tent.
I clap twice again before zipping the entrance back up and travelling the two steps to get to my compartment on the right. I could barely even sit up in my compartment, so I had to grab my pyjamas and then get changed in the main area of the tent.
Once I was settled in my own air bed in my own compartment I started to stare at the light just outside of the tent. It was illuminating its glow through the waterproof material of the tent. Bright and yellow, it came through, almost perfection.
Perfection: isn't it such a mainstream idea. But is there a mainstream any more? Because we just take want we can get: food, money, housing.
The war had even destroyed our mainstream.
The war not just destroyed some of our culture but also people and lives. Every family has lost at least one person due to the war and that was if you were lucky. I lost my Dad, Auntie and both sets of grandparents but that was before i was born so no love loss there. Nigel, on the other hand was different. He'd lost so much more that that. His mum died from infection due to unsanitary conditions after Nigel was born, his dad and brother both died on foreign lands shooting at a nameless stranger. He got the letters within months of each other, dad first then brother. Shot.
Within weeks of getting his brother's letter Nigel had already signed up and packed up. He was 17, he lied on his papers. It was like I said, it was a war powered by vengeance.
Once Nigel had left for the war I started to get out of the habit of talking. I spoke less and less until one day I just...stopped.
When Nigel was around word came naturally to me but as soon as he left there was no one around to value my comments and if I'm not going to say anything of value then there is no point in whispering even a word.
When Nigel came back I'd thought that my voice would've too, except it didn't. I was still silent as ever, constantly worried that the first words out of my mouth in years would stand to be of no importance.
It's better to be silent and have them think you are a fool, than to open your mouth and prove it.