He bent down to tie his combat boots. When he stood back up, his frame was broader in the camouflage uniform. It transformed him into someone else. She felt momentary detachment from him. As if he was carrying a stop sign that warned her not to get closer. He saw the fear in her eyes, but stayed far not reaching out to kiss her hands. His words, his looks and his soul all merged with the military uniform.
A spell of silence conquered the air.
Why did he fear saying farewell? Was this the practice of all soldiers before combat— to harden their hearts and their gazes? A million questions attacked her brain, but no answers.
Her knees trembled, her hands shook, but she held on to the rose. And as he turned his back and marched ahead, she tried to call after him, but her voice was muffled. She stretched her hand to give him the rose, but he had walked away silently. A shiver ran through her and she pulled the rose to her chest.
When she lost count of the days, he came back and the rose finally found its place on his lifeless body.