Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Lonely in 10 Hurt Comfort
Character: Luka Kovac
Summary: Luka tries to comes to terms with life after Vukovar
Warnings: Deals with potentially sensitive subject matter related to the War of Independence.
Notes: This ficlet explores more of Luka's time in the displaced person's camp following his escape from Vukovar. I have previously touched on this time in my longer fics Ghosts, Time Heals all Wounds, and For One Life which I co wrote with M. Blais. All three can be found on the journal link on my info page. Visit my Chart at: http://dr-luka-kovac.livejournal.com/24138.html for the chapters prior to this one.
He hated leaving the tent but there were times too when he could stand it's confinement no more, when it felt like the green canvas was closing in on him and the only way he could stop it was by leaving it. Slipping the photo of Danijela and Jasna into his pocket, Luka reached for the crutches.
It was an isolation of his own making, he knew that, it wasn't that others in the tent hadn't tried to include him in their conversations. It wasn't that they hadn't offered to include them in their games of cards or chess, or that they hadn't invited him to join them for meals. How many times could he have expected them to continue accepting his refusal before they stopped asking completely? If only Danijela could see him for who he was now. What would she think of how much he had changed, of how different he was from the man she had fallen in love with, from the man she had married?
That his thoughts had drifted to his late wife did not surprise him, she was a constant companion to his loneliness, a reminder of the life he no longer had. In truth though there were far too many things here that brought forth those reminders, it was why he hated leaving the tent. Why he hated listening to the conversations of those here as well as outside. On most days he could escape the reminders through sleep or with memories of what his life had been before Vukovar, but not today. Today nothing had worked and the feelings of loss were threatening to tear him apart and all he knew was that he had to get away from the reminders.
The rain that had fallen on the camp for the past several days had finally moved on, leaving behind mud, puddles of water, and soggy tents filled with people working to dry out what meager belongings they had left to them before the next series of showers arrived. The camp itself was divided into sections, rows of canvas which housed single men, single women, and those with children, and families, it was the last that he found the most difficult to move through, and which unfortunately seemed to always prove unavoidable.
It was never easy moving along the camp's rutted paths on crutches but with them now muddy it required even more of his attention, but it also slowed his pace. As he neared the area on the approach to the family tents it was unavoidable that the conversations within and around them would reach his ears.
"Tata!" He heard the call of the small girl almost as soon as he entered the walkway between the tents and it tore into him in a way he hadn't thought possible. "Tata!" Her cry was repeated, and then answered by the booming voice of a man who could only be her father. He didn't dare look for the two, knowing that it would only deepen the sense of loss, the sense of loneliness he was feeling.
He'd tried to explain what this was like to some of the doctors when they'd asked him about it, but, how could he expect others to understand something which he still couldn't fully understand himself? How did he tell someone that it felt like whole pieces of who he was were missing? That nothing he could do, nothing that anyone else could say, and nothing they could do would ever be able to replace them? How do you tell someone that even in a room full of people you feel totally alone because the very people who make you complete are no longer with you? How do you tell someone that your reason for living is no longer there?
Never could he have believed that one word could have caused so much pain, more pain even then the bullet that had ripped through his leg had caused. More pain then the sound of hearing a child calling for their father and wanting to answer, but knowing you can't. He'd thought that nothing could be worse than the grief he'd felt at losing his wife and children until he had come here, he'd been so wrong.
And then he is past those tents and until the next time he can, if he is lucky, push most of those feelings into the darker places of his thoughts. It's not easy though and some days are worse than others. On those days he feels more alone than at any other time, and then there are days like this one when he can't. Days where everything reminds him of something he no longer has,of someone he no longer is. These are the days he escapes to the pathways.
Maybe this is how he would spend the rest of his life. The very thought is enough to make him quicken his pace and cause him to stumble as the crutch slips in the mud as it searches for a footing to keep him upright. And then he is somehow back where he started and at least for today he can put the thoughts aside as fatigue wins over and it takes all his remaining strength to make his way back to the cot that at least for now, he calls home.