"I don’t want this. I want to eat melting ice cream on a hot summer day. I want to complain about homework and tests with my friends. I want to learn how to drive with my dad. I want to embarrass my little sister on her first date. I want a normal life, not this. Anything but this."
The dim light from the setting sun glinted off the tears that were running down her cheeks.
"Here we go again," Liz said with an exasperated sigh. "Haven’t we already been through this? Life ain’t all sunshine and rainbows."
"No," Ty shook his head. "She’s right. She should never have been brought into our mess." He turned towards Abby and took a few steps to cover the distance between them. Placing his palm on her cheek and using his thumb to wipe away her tears he said, "I’m sorry. This is my fault. This was my problem to deal with, not yours. Can you please forgive me?" His voice cracked on the last few words.
"Forgive you? There’s nothing to forgive." She leaned her face into his palm, and offered him a weak smile.
"Sorry to interrupt this touching moment," Liz began, "but it’s getting dark and we’re in the open."
"You’re right," Ty said. "We need to get moving." He moved away from Abby, but not before lingering an extra moment.
The group walked in silence for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, Ty stopped and faced them. "I think this is a safe place to stop. Let’s set up camp here."
Everyone set to work, pitching tents and gathering fire wood. It was a dark, moonless night. Abby sat on the ground staring into the fire, deep in thought. A movement beside her awoke her from her trance. It was Ty.
"May I sit with you?"
They sat in silence, both staring at nothing. Ty spoke first.
"I know this is a lot for you. I know this isn’t what you wanted. I’m sorry I dragged you into this mess."
Abby shook her head. "I already told you, Ty. This isn’t your fault."
"But it is. I’m the one who dragged you into this dangerous position. I'm putting your life on the line. I can’t do this anymore. I’ve decided that it would be best to return you to your home."
Out the corner of her eye Abby saw Liz roll her eyes and turn away from them.
"Take me home! Why?"
"This is too dangerous. I can’t bear the thought that your life has been placed into my hands."
"My life is still my own."
"You can’t even defend yourself, Abby!"
"Then you can train me." Abby heard Liz snicker just then.
Ty shook his head. "No. I’ve already made my decision."
"I am not the weak little girl you seem to think I am."
"Abby, that’s enough. I’ve already made the decision."
"Who made this your decision?!? I’m not going back!"
“I'm the leader. make the decisions around here. Just drop it." There was an edge to his voice,
"No!! What’s your problem?"
Ty began to stand, but Abby grabbed his sleeve. "Just stop already!!"
"No. Why is it so hard for you? Do you think I’m weak? Too soft? What is it? Why, Ty? Just tell me already!! What is........"
"Because I think I'm falling in love with you!!" He yanked his sleeve out of her hand, now beginning to breathe heavily. He kept his back towards her.
Abby’s breath hitched in her throat. "You...........what..............?"
He turned towards her, his temper softened. "I love you, and it terrifies me. I know the risks. I know what could happen, but I can't help it.”
Oh, Ty," Abby began. Just then a bullet whizzed by, grazing the edge of Ty’s ear.
He let out a small cry, grabbing his ear. Suddenly he sprang up. "Everyone, get into defense positions!!"
The camp suddenly stirred to life.
Abby ran blindly through the dark forest, stumbling every other step. Behind her she heard gunshots and the distinct cry of battle. She kept running, until she almost ran directly into a tree. Wait......that wasn’t a tree. That was a person, dressed in a dark cloak. She stumbled back. The cloaked figure pulled out a gun, and pointed it straight at her. She tried to run, but again stumbled backwards. Abby braced herself for what she knew was coming. Right as she heard the shot of the gun, there was a wild cry. Abby opened her eyes just in time to see a figure jump in front of her, shielding her from the bullet.
He fell to the ground, clutching his wound.
“Abby,” he groaned. “You have to run now.”
She stood and ran, blinded by her tears. She knew she couldn't look back. She ran until dawn, collapsing onto the ground and sobbing. “What if I never get the chance to tell him that I love him?”
Images flashed through her mind; Memories. She remembered first meeting Ty. Seeing him in the school hall and being instantly drawn to him. She remembered how he always seemed to pop up out of seemingly nowhere. How the more he eluded her, the more she was pulled towards him. She remembered the night she had followed him. How he had saved her from that first ambush. How she discovered the war that was being fought; her cluelessness to the raging troubles of the world around her. She remembered the warm, sincere look in Ty's eyes when he had said he loved her; the feeling that nothing else in the world mattered at that moment. Why, oh why, hadn't she said it back? Suddenly, the look of painful anguish on his face flashed before her eyes. She heard his scream as he told her to run. She awoke from her trance.
She stood, brushing the dirt off of her jeans. “I have to make a plan. I have to fight in this war. I've spent my whole life sheltered; not being bothered with the real problems in this world. I'm a new person now. I will stand.”
With a determined look on her face, she set off on her journey.