Nineteen ninety five. We did not know it was the last VE Day that mum would see. There was a party in the street. Mum was indoors crying.
Aren’t you happy mum? We won. That’s why we’re celebrating. We won, we won and you were there. It’s party time.
Don’t celebrate for me. It was not “fun”. A day of sad relief perhaps. It took my cousin, my uncle, your grandad for six years, his health for the rest of his life and what should have been my youth.
Twenty five years on and I see the celebrations on tv and remember mum and the others and I wonder.
Bullets spit up sand
Hands over ears we cower
No red poppies bloom
Control. Alt. Delete.
Blue screen sky, crying mothers.
Delete. Alt? Delete.
All that is left of the old city wall is a brass strip in the road. People fought and fell for this line. I step on it each time I pass.
Linh stood straight, face forward, and stared at the flag. The golden star sparkled, reflected in her dark eyes. She was beautiful. I tried to keep her face in my gaze but the Colonel was watching us. My eyes could not flicker or shift from the flag. I loved her but she loved the party, she loved the flag, she loved our country. I had tried to find the words but she was not ready for love with a person, or a person like me. I could not compete with her love for a people, for a country under attack.
Years later I heard that after leaving the camp she had crossed the border with a team of comrades. They caused the enemy such great losses that the invaders sent in the fire bombers. I heard that Linh was caught out in the open, away from the tunnels, and her body was never found.
Now I sit drinking iced coffee in a café in a city in my country, in a country at peace, in a country where the invaders were thrown out when I was still young. Now I sit here in a café in a street named after Linh, my Linh, though she was never mine, and I think of the young girl with the stars in her eyes, with the love of her people in her eyes.
Published on http://visualverse.org/submissions/love-in-her-eyes/