Sarah was still looking at me. All of a sudden, I knew that she knew about Patrick. She had always known. I knew this the way that she knew. How you just do, when you're sisters.
For the first time since I was a small child, I was scared.
"I'm sorry," I whispered. "It's over now. Sorry."
"God damn it."
"I'm so sorry." I covered my mouth with my hand and talked through it. "Sarah. I'm so sorry."
"Why, Maggie?" Sarah's face was turned toward me, as if someone were holding her chin in place, forcing her to look. Her face fell into a million pieces. But she stood there, and I realized that, even though I was older, she was the bigger, stronger one. She could break me.
She reached one arm across the fence and I closed my eyes. Then I felt the weight of the hand that could have reached for my throat, but chose instead to rest on my shoulder.
"I don't understand, Maggie." She was crying, hard, the way I used to. "You all just run, and run, and run."
We turned away from each other, two sisters. Still crying, Sarah looked uphill at the trees, the road turning upon itself like a snake. I looked downhill at the fading backs of the men, running as if they would explode, toward whatever line they had drawn in the sand to call it the end.
Copyright © 2001 by Erika Krouse
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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