“I’ve got your back.”
“I would die for you.”
“I would kill for you.”
How many times had she heard those sayings over her short lifetime? Far too many to count, and every time they had been said, they meant nothing.
Of course, they meant nothing.
When she was younger, she didn’t understand the importance these words held. But when she became a soldier, a soul in a swarm of armed and brave people, going off to battle, she understood then.
Nothing prepares you for that moment. That awful, heart stopping moment where you know all hope is lost, and the only thing you can do is either accept your fate, or you can turn tail and save yourself.
“Go! Anna, leave me. I’m not gonna make it and if you try to take me with you, you’ll only slow yourself down,” James, her best friend and battle buddy shouted over the deafening noise of gunshots and explosions.
“No!” Anna snapped, still trying to wrap his leg and remove the bullets wedged in his skin, “I’m not leaving you. I won’t do it.”
“Anna, I’m telling you, it’s fine!” James shouted, worriedly and angrily, if he was going to die, he didn’t want her to die with him.
“No!” she yelled, her teary, hazel eyes were wide with fear, panic and anger, “I’m not leaving you. This is my choice, you don’t get a say in this. I’m staying.”
Anna choked on a sob, furiously wiping away her tears, mingled with sweat, blood and dirt, “no, don’t. Please, don’t tell me to leave again. I’m not going to. This is my choice.”
“Annie, look at me –
She looked up at him, rubble and dust falling around them as their campsite was attacked, their friends firing around them, “you would do the same thing, James. And that’s not the only reason why I’m staying, I can’t leave you. I won’t. We’re…in this together.”
James let out a soft, broken whine, tears pooling in this eyes, as he recited the words they’d say to each other as children, “together or not at all.”
Anna smiled then, through her tears and hugged him with everything she had in her.
She had his back, just like he had hers.
But they didn’t kill for each other out of choice.
They didn’t die for each other out of choice.
No, instead, they died together.
In the end, Anna had always known, if he was going, she was too, because, “I’ll go with you”, meant a lot more than anything else – together, or not at all.