Likely it would have happened regardless of the earthquake, after all for every beginning there is inevitably an end. Time out of kilter. That’s all. Even so, a pity he had to die so young. When the soldiers had dragged his corpse out of the rubble he looked like an unwashed burly, surprisingly pinkish, pig awaiting a butcher’s slab and knife. She almost, yet not quite, smiled when realizing he died with his boots on. Just boots. That puzzled her although not unduly. In any event she had guessed his fate already. Stark evidence merely verification of what her heart had already advised her of.
Prior to the visible corroboration she had prayed. Prayed in hope of a miracle…denied common-sense the freedom to tell her otherwise. For the life of her she had no idea as to why. She was not an idiot. She knew full well that a prayer is nought but a wish in disguise, and wishes rarely come true. In her defence she told herself she was allowed a little stupidity on this day. The day her lover had died.
He was a good man. By no means an academic. He could speak two languages yet rarely spoke in either. Besides, well versed lovers often do without idle words.
In the wake of the quake her house had fallen down. All she owned was the clothes she stood up in. Albeit it of little concern presently, come the freezing night in all probability she would be chilled to the marrow. The thought struck that she would happily trade her pretty blue frock for a gentleman’s overcoat, overlooking the fact that overcoats were always in short supply following any seismic disaster.
A little later the soldiers took her to an open top, already overcrowded, army lorry. They had said she would be delivered to ‘The Land of Tents’. Prior to departure she asked if she could have her lovers boots and a lock of his hair as a momento. Having checked the ever-growing pile of dead bodies, male and female, young and old, no boots were to be found. Likewise his carcass. No reminders of the recent past to be had. Still no tears.
Upon arrival her initial observation was that ‘The Land of Tents’ would be more appropriately named ‘The Forest of Tents’. Having made mention of this observation to a seemingly important soldier he obtusely replied, “Well luv, you can’t have everything.” She called him a rude word, before being moved on to her tent. Within, a broken-hearted mother and three noisy brats living a fantasy. Forgiveness of noisy brats perpetual noise did not come easy, notwithstanding the fact that the brats father was one of the corpses in the ‘pile of no boots’.
Blankets arrived and shortly after drinking water also, although one had to queue with others for the water. Better still, by dusk, food in the form of crusty bread and apricot jam. No knives to cut the bread or spread the jam with materialized.
At dawn’s first light the broken-hearted mother and three noisy brats woke up to find their erstwhile companion gone. Rumour has it the ghost of a fetching young lady in a pretty blue frock, a pair of boots clutched in one hand, a lock of hair held tight in the other can oft times be seen in these parts amid the host of wild flowers of an untouched meadow that was once a place known to locals as ‘The Forest of Tents’.