There was a war.
It wasn’t a big one. You’ve probably never heard of it, and if they mentioned it in History class, it was just in passing. Two lines in a text book. An example of religious and political unrest in a British colony. An example of what happens when you fight back.
It was just politics, but I believed them. I wanted to live in a world where I could worship the way I wished.
But we lost.
And as punishment, they took away our social system, our music, our clothes, and tried to make us like them.
I like to think they failed, but I don’t know because I died.
He sometimes imagines a different story. They could have been together forever and ever, but it always ends the same: but time always catches up with those who run and the one grew old until he died in the other’s arms.
Other times he remembers the truth.
He’s not sure which is worse.
When she grew old and died, they ejected her coffin into space, like a sailor’s funeral at sea. It wasn’t often that they did this. Only the very best were chosen to spend eternity in the black, circling the sun.
A strange man none of them knew came and spoke at the funeral. They let him because of his credentials and the speech was very short, anyhow.
“Zoe Herriot was more marvelous than she ever knew. And she will be missed.”
It’s an unbroachable subject, a story he never told even when asked. But as time passes and the number of stories that fall under the category of ‘forgotten by everyone but me’ increases, he realizes that someday he’ll be gone and then no one will remember.
So he waits for someone to ask, but they never do, not about that. They ask about the War and he tells them. But they never ask about two people he used to love because they don’t know.
The only person who does asked him too early, centuries too early.
The run into each other unexpectedly when they’re both old and it feels like a last chance so he tells without preamble. “They’re gone. They were sent back and they were made to forget. We’re the only two who remember. And someday we’ll be gone, too.”
It doesn’t matter, his friend tells him, because at least they were remembered for a very long time.
He’s not sure it that’s enough.
As he touches his fingers to her temples, he wonders how he can do this. How he can take away who she has become even though he knows she would rather die than forget. He wants her to live, but in forgetting, she will live as someone else.
It’s for her own good is a feeble excuse, an excuse they used so long ago. The excuse that people are happier when not meddled with by him, when not shown the glorious expanse of forever, when not allowed to question if what’s in their tiny world is all there is.
I’m so, so sorry his mind cries across the void to her and to them, as her memories rush out.
There was a war.
It stretched across all time and space and all creatures were its soldiers.
Their battles were their lives.
And if these seemed to have lost, know that this is only because they do not remember their glorious victories.