The mass of black-cloaked bodies seemed cold and unwelcoming. They huddled close in the heavy rain, closed around a central plot. Mia looked around herself, more and more shrouded figures surrounded her, but she wasn’t the center of their fixation. Shaking with unease she tried to ask what was happening, but her words were silent and dead. Again she gazed around, a feeling that something had changed urged her to. The bleak, heavy gravestones made her stare in confusion. She sought names to these grave markers of lost souls, but none stood out to her. Just blank, saddened stones. With a great suddenness she was pierced with the feeling of pain and loss. Her breath left her delicate lips with a sharp gasp as the feeling squeezed her chest and the pain intensified. Mia pivoted and dove into the mass of black. Her feet were clumsy as she sprinted toward the object of attention. Her body ached as she tried to pull in fresh air with her hindered lungs. The panic and sorrow deepened as the blurred faces came into recognition. Family friends looked on with sympathy, the distant family with a numbed loss. Heat welled in Mia’s eyes as she pushed harder until she reached a wall. No ordinary wall, it was a line of bodies, ramrod straight and similar. None of them seemed to notice that she had slammed right into them. Their stature and uniforms were of great confusion to her mind. Why were there soldiers here? Why were they in this place of mourning with her family? As the thoughts rummaged through her mind a single soldier dared to break the commanded order. He was tall and lean with the slightest hint of underlying muscle that made him look like a military man. From his softer features of his face and smooth skin she could tell her was close to her age, maybe 19 or so. His blue-gray eyes with their look of sympathy and pity as he stared at her put the puzzle together in a sharp snap of the mind. A sob so low and deep welled in her chest to the point that her heart must have been about to explode in a burst of pure pain of every kind. The soldier’s eyes never left her as she shoved through the lifeless line and came to a dead halt at the casket in front of her. The wood was sleek and dark, smooth to the touch she could tell. She was only six inches away. Close enough for her to reach forward slightly and stroke the carvings inlaid in the woodwork. To feel the texture of the flag displayed neatly atop the lid. The delicate flower petals of the spray upon the top, the colors tickled her eyes and seemed to glow faintly though they didn’t belong with the dark pouring rain.