Saturday, August 26, 2006


Croatia 1991

Laying on his side in the medical tent Luka found himself wishing for quiet, it was never quiet here. It had only been three days since he'd been found on the side of the road near death, three days since he had been forced back into a life that he had no desire to be in. He spent most of his time sleeping but those increasing hours awake were inevitably being filled not just with memories, but with the sounds of families living a life he would never again know.

Leaning over the edge of the cot he succumbed to an intense barrage of coughing as his lungs battled against the pneumonia that infested them. Conditions here were harsh, supplies limited and he still clung to the hope that death would find him.

"You're awake." His coughing had attracted one of the nurses to his side and she braced her hand against his thin back, supporting him as it ran it's course.

"Are you hungry? I have some broth and tea for you." When she received little more than an icy stare in response the woman drew back.

"Govorite li engleski?" She waited a moment more, studying his face until he laid back down and turned his back to her. "Have it your own way. She returned to her own language before moving on to the man in the next bed.

In truth Luka did speak English, and the quiet rumble of his stomach told him that it would have welcomed the broth and tea she'd been offering, but he didn't want comfort from them, not yet. He had made his peace with God, he was ready to join his family, he didn't ask them to save him. It was his life. What right did they have to bring him here, to force him to accept care when what he really wanted was death?

Yet another round of coughing silenced his thoughts and left him exhausted. All he wanted now was sleep, and the death they denied him, laying back down he turned once more on his side. Pulling the thin blanket over his shoulder he closed his eyes and willed his mind to silence the voices in the tent. There was no guarantee that his sleep would not bring another nightmare, but he clung to the hope that it could just as easily bring a fonder memory, one in which he might, if only for a moment, be reunited with Danijela and his children, and it was that thought on whose wings he was carried off to sleep.

No comments: