The rustle of the leaves and
the crisp touch of the brisk breeze followed me into the meadow. My breath danced in front of me as I stumbled into the field of orange and yellow flowers. My eyes began to well with sorrow and I could feel a lump forming in my throat. Escaping the banner waving crowd without a single tear had proven to be extremely difficult, but luckily I had managed. It was a time for celebration and cheers, yet I wondered how anyone could be so happy at such a time. Perhaps they hadn't seen what I had. If they had, they would've felt as I did. I had to get away from them so I could cry alone.
I stumbled to my knees and began to taste the saltiness of my tears. Soon I became a cold, wet mess, drowning in a lake of sorrow. Lying down slowly, I gasped for air through my sobbing. Flashes of blood and violence quickly filled my eyes. All I could see were the wounded bodies and muddy battlefields of The Great War. I stained my dress as I lie in the muddy meadow. The mud reminded me of the times I trudged through it, during the bitter war. Everything reminded me of something because everything was impossible to forget. I slowly shut my eyes and tried to remember the last time I was happy. And then I remembered... I remembered the summer of 1914.
It had always been Ben, William and I. We were the three musketeers, always out on some sort of adventure in the beauties of London. I don't remember a time without Ben or Will. Ever since I was young, they were both by my side. Ben was my brother. A kind older brother like him was not an easy thing to come across. I was very lucky to have him, though I often took him for granted. Will had been my brother's best friend since they were very little. They were both four years older than me so they always took care to look after me when we were young. But as we grew up, I never felt younger than them. They were the most special and important people to ever be in my life.
"Alright, Alice. Do you think you can make it?" Ben teased.
"Of course I can make it. I'm not a little girl, you know?"
I sassed. At the time, I was 18 and Will and Ben were both 22. We were all still very much children. They were both still very much silly school boys.
"Of course you're not a little girl, Alice. Didn't I overhear you telling your mother that you were a woman now?" Will asked resting his arm on my shoulder.
"Well I am, aren't I?"
"Not if you can't make it across the beam!" Ben laughed.
I looked down at the narrow, wooden beam that overlooked the murky pond about 15 feet below us. Will had dared me to walk across it. Of course I accepted his challenge with no fear at all. But now I began to feel my knees shake as I looked down on the muddy swamp below.
"Oh come on, Alice. You can do it. Of course you don't have to, but I know you can," Will smiled.
"I'll do it. I'm not too afraid," I said confidently. "But under one condition. You two have to go first."
Ben smiled. "You're on."
I watched as Ben rapidly ran across the beam. He made it across in about 7 seconds to my utter surprise. Impressive, I thought. I was shocked that he was able to run across so skillfully. He must have done it before...
"It's all too easy!" he laughed from across the swamp.
I looked up to Will, who stood about 6 inches taller than I. "Your turn."
He smiled as he stepped onto the beam. He walked across more cautiously than Ben had. Much smarter, I thought. He began to wobble slightly, making me nervous.
"Be careful," my voice cracked.
"Is that a hint of concern I hear in your voice?" he laughed.
"Possibly," I smiled.
He looked back and gave me a wink. I tried to hide my blushing, which proved to be hopeless. He made it across in the next 5 seconds and both him and Ben smiled.
"Well go on then!" Ben cried.
I took a deep breath and stepped onto the shaky, wooden beam. I closed my eyes and began to walk.
"Alice, what are you closing your eyes for?" Will inquired.
"To cancel out distractions!" I yelled. "If only I could close my ears as well!" I slipped a little as I thought about how proud I was of my sassy remark. I quickly opened my eyes and regained my balance.
"Watch your step," Ben cautioned.
I closed my eyes and began to walk again. I could feel myself getting closer and closer to the boys. I knew I was almost there.
"Boo!" Ben cried.
Completely startled I opened my eyes only to look down and see my foot slipping off the beam. Next thing I knew, I was lying in a disgusting swamp of mud. I quickly stood up and saw the boys laughing from above.
"Get down here, you little arse!" I screamed at Ben.
"Touchy, touchy," he laughed. I watched as him and Will made their way down the hill and to the edge of the swamp.
"Mother will be very cross with you for getting your white dress all muddy," Ben laughed as he rolled up his pants and took of his shoes.
"It's all your fault, you know," I laughed as he trudged in to help me out. As he extended has hand for me to grab, I quickly pulled him into the swamp. When he came out from under the murky water, he splashed me multiple times.
"That's what I get for trying to help you?" he laughed.
"No, that was for startling me," I splashed back.
When we got out of the pond, we began to walk back to the house.
"Here," Will said putting his jacket around me.
"Thanks, Will," I smiled. Both him and Ben put their arms around me as we skipped along the dirt road.
"You know what? No one shall ever take us seriously," I laughed.
"And why should they?" Ben questioned. "We may act as young as we want. It's not their place to judge us."
"Indeed it is not!" Will laughed.
I was content to be young and foolish with my two favorite boys. That was all I had ever wanted. It was the simplest pleasure a girl could ever wish for and for the time being, I was lucky enough to have it.