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I sit there. Quivering. Chin buried in knees. Clutching on to my hands.
I want to scream. But my voice is lost.
In the darkness.
“Where are you?”
I perk my ears, listening to the voice. Sweet. Soft. Canorous. It's the only thing I've heard since yesterday night.
“Rebecca, where are you?”
Listening to him utter my name, I feel my heart melt. I feel myself dissolve into the darkness. When was the last time I had ever heard my name? I'm not sure.
“Rebecca, I know you're in here. Come out.”
Silence. I don't respond.
“Beck, we can do this. Hear me out, please.”
More silence. I want to answer. I want to reach up and grab his hand. I want to fall into his embrace and forget about everything that has happened. Everything. Absolutely everything.
“Beck, do you hear me?”
His voice seeps through my ears and I finally let out a sigh. I see my breath stream from my mouth and realize how cold it really is down here.
“I can hear you,” I answer, shivering. I want to stand up, but I'm terrified. Darkness—that's the only thing around me. I've already lost myself. Into this darkness. “Leave me alone. Please.”
“I won't,” he says, firmly. “Not until you get out of there. You can't spend the rest of your life camped out in the cellar.”
He's right. I murmur a curse underneath my breath. Trembling for only a moment, I finally stand up. My legs are cramped from being hunched up for so long. I feel awkward, standing up.
Slowly, I walk up the stoned steps of the cellar. Away from the darkness.
I see him. He's kneeling on the top step, holding out a hand. I don't take it.
“Don't be like this,” he begs. I see his forehead crease with vexation. For me. For his future. For our future. “You're almost twenty, Beck. Act like it.”
“Don't tell me what I should or shouldn't be doing,” I vent. My lips are quenched, parched, and numb. Twenty-four hours without food, water, and a blanket can be very enervating, if I must say so.
Seconds turn into minutes. He doesn't say anything. So don't I. We sit there. Side by side. Something we had always done.
“I'm leaving,” he claims. I hear his voice tense up and I shudder. “Today, Beck. Right now.”
“Why?” I inquire. I realize it's a childish question. Why? Why was everything the way it was? Why was life unfair? Why did it have to end up like this?
The clock ticks louder, mixing in with the pattering of my own heart. For a moment, I wonder whether he has lost his own voice—the way I had lost mine. In the darkness. The petrifying world I had spent twenty-four hours in.
“I've got to do this,” he retaliates. Gently. I feel his breath on my head. I sense his eyes watching me. Watching my every movement. My expression. I give none. “It's important. Our people need defense. I'm doing this, not for myself, but for every American out there. Bear with me, Beck.”
I shake my head. No, I don't want to bear with him. I feel tears fill up my eyes, and I start bawling.
“You don't have to do this,” I sob, burying my face in my knees. “Don't go. Don't leave me.”
“Rebecca, I'm sorry,” he whispers. His arms drape around me and I am leaning against him. I feel his chest rise and fall with his every breath. “I'll be back. I promise.”
“What if you don't make it?” I query, acknowledging the fact that I was pushing this too far. “Joining the army is dangerous. What if something happens?”
He knows that he won't come back. He knows that he's risking his life for nothing. I know. He knows.
Tears drip from my chin.
Onto my lap.
He lets go.
And I fall. My head rests along the concrete floor. My cheek is bruised. My auburn hair falls across my eyes. I see darkness. Once again.
It's around me. Suffocating me.