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Dawn Yet to Come This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

August 1940

You could only sit there and look at him in despair. Some unknown feeling, some indescribable sadness or pain building up inside of you; it finally boiled over every so often in the form of tears streaming down the face. You didn’t care…All that you cared about and mattered was now handing on by a thread with only you keeping him from going over the edge.
Through the wetness in your eyes, you could see the candlelight reflecting off the various medals pinned across your chest. Your life’s hardship, meaning, your various achievements through blood, tears, and sweat, now blinded you. You had seen what war had to offer on the bloodied beaches of Dunkirk, the blood of men staining your hands crimson. None of that seemingly bothered you before; war had left no room, no place, no time for crying and reminiscing. Keep moving forward, don’t turn and look behind you…Pushing through what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Yet, seeing his delicate face contorted in pain was now too much, even for a hero.
A hero lost in his own despair and reminisce of the past, unable to save anyone.
After a while, he began to moan and cough quietly. Every small sound-resonating like that of a newborn- reminded you of every drop of blood, every teardrop, every bead of sweat that rolled down your face as you fought for the sake of you country before his own. You covered your ears, partially in guilt, but also in the aspect there are certain things not even a hero can endure. You could bear the sound of war birds over your beloved white cliffs of Dover, but couldn’t stand the sound of a man in pain before you. You did nothing only because there was nothing that could be done. If there had been something, you would’ve put it into action, for idleness is the factor of failure. You weren’t stupid, but you felt as if maybe you lacked a certain knowledge compared to the others. The knowledge to feel anything, to love, to live. You truly only knew suffering. Which is why you stayed by his side, whispered all the time. Didn’t even know what you were saying, didn’t particularly care. As long as it got you through the approaching dusk.
Now, you held his hand, holding fast to those cold, trembling fingers. In the fading light, you promised prosperity, peace, that the world would be better. But your hope faded with the comforting light, realizing that it would only get worse. As you glanced outside the window, you saw that it was a beautiful August evening, the sky painted red and orange with the approaching night. Air was blowing through the open window, surprisingly cool with a slight crispness to it despite the time of year. But, in your world, all light, all warmth, was taken away in the hell of the summer storm, threatening to never be returned in time as fall was on the verge of taking it away.
How many times had you prayed to hear his voice chastising Arlen, the laughter that made everyone smile and brightened even the most war torn skies. You missed the smile that would break across his young, handsome face of nineteen. Now, you only heard his groans, his cries, his labored breathing that caused his tear-streaked face to contort in pain and fear. With all your will, you tried to cut them out.
You cannot go, you still have to show the world what you are made of. What did someone say- fight on and fly on to the last bit of fuel, to the last drop of blood, to the last beat of heart? You have to show your true colors. When they shine, they will put even the Union Jack to shame, I’m sure. You’re a fighter, not a quitter, so don’t pretend you can’t do this. Once you’ve won the war, the world, I promise, will be a better place.
No, not once you’ve won the war…Once we’ve won the war. That’s right, kid, I’m fighting with you…So there is no reason to give up now. You’re not done, you far too young. Now, you have to come around, stand, turn and face it: reality. That reality is now war. You have no excuse to leave me…us. You have no right to make the ones who love you suffer for you like this when I know you can pull through…I don’t want it to hurt this much.
You didn’t speak the words aloud, somehow knowing the words were getting to him. In a semiconscious daze, you noticed the sun sinking lower in the sky and shuddered. Please. Just some more time. You cannot go, not now. You are too close to the end to give up the fight now.
Suddenly, the door opened as light spilled into the room, a man walking in. The candlelight illuminated his tired, thin face: the dark straight brows, high cheekbones, tan skin, turquoise eyes, and soft fair hair. Arlen, the twin of the man lying in the bed. He walked over to the bed, clutched the frail hand that wasn’t in yours, and kneeled beside him. From the open door, you could hear the radio in the parlor; the remnants of Vera Lynn were dying away, frighteningly sounding like an Angel calling out.
Arlen leaned forward and pushed the limp, tousled blonde hair off his brother’s forehead. You could see Arlen’s eyes glistening with held back tears, never the while paying you any mind. You leaned forward and placed your hand on his cheek, waiting for the brother to break down at any time. As the remaining color seemed to drain from his face, you jerked your hand away to keep from piercing his remaining threadbare life.
The sound of the brother’s shaking voice shattered your thoughts. “I don’t know if you can hear me, Aston, but for once I need to at least feel as if you are listening. I know you are so close to giving up, but I need you to hold on. If not for England, Mum or Dad, our mates, at least make it for me. You can’t let go because then I will go with you. You are a part of me. Always have, always will.”
You stared in stunned silence as Arlen finally broke into tears, letting them run silent and undisturbed down his cheeks until they fell onto those of his brother. You had never wished for the world to be like this. To you, it was inconceivable that Aston would become another fallen fighter, one of the many. One of the first to go in a statistic that was steadily rising.
Outside, you could see the sun beginning to dip below the horizon, only a few blinding rays penetrating the sky. Aston’s face was drowning in the dying light, an image bearing your memory of his recently sickened face. You bit your lip and turned swiftly, staring into the sun. You challenged it, fighting against the blinding sensation in your eyes. As you held your unwavering gaze against the mocking sun, you challenged the world.
Only Arlen’s voice made you turn away. “Have you ever had this feeling, as if your heart was telling you one thing, but you have the option to do the opposite? I want you to stay. I need you to stay. I can’t go on without you. But, I can see you’re torn…It’s your decision. But, promise me, that wherever you go, you’ll always remember that you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. Just remember that I love you. Always will, always have…Nothing can ever change that. No matter whether you choose to stay or go.”
As Arlen leaned forward and placed a kiss on his brother’s forehead, burying his face into his chest, you felt Aston’s grip on your hand start to rapidly fade. His breathing grew more rapid and labored. Your throat began to close as tears ran down your cheeks again. To your surprise, his eyes opened as he glanced around the room in a mixture of fear and surprise.
Through the crackle of the static of the radio, you could hear the remnants of a BBC broadcast. It had been played earlier that day, but was only now coming to the attention of those it was dedicated to.
“Never in the history of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
You could see Arlen sit back up and glance down at Aston again, a sad smile playing on his lips as he saw his brother’s opened eyes.
“Did you hear that Aston? It’s over. You’ve done your part. You have nothing left to prove. Everyone knows what you have done and they appreciate it more than you could ever know. Just go…You can go now. Go to the rest of those who are lost and bring some light to them.”
A weak smile came to Aston’s face as he began slipping away faster. You stared in horror as the final light died in the sky, plunging the world into darkness. Aston’s hand slipped from yours, his last breath dying on his lips as his eyes closed.
Again, you could do nothing as he faded away before you. You had seen plenty of death before, too much to handle.
But, it was even harder to watch your own self fade into the very momentum of history.

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