This memory is not mine, yet it is my birthright. Different strangers have told me the same story over the years upon meeting me. There is no beginning, no course to climax only an instant immersion. At long last, the enemy was at hand, the prize captured and with the pop of a cork, the celebrations begin. It is a crowded room, full of those would-be heroes, bearded by neglect, intellectual bookish types, and honest-to-God mistakenly picked up strangers, all in a row, perhaps somewhere bright, certainly somewhere uncomfortably hot. Not all are innocent. You think my God, how tragic they are, how foolishly delusional, how beautiful. You suppress the part of you that stands over with them too.
He is called to answer, to lose graciously, and humbly uphold the absurdity of the moment. He does not. In that instant you catch sight of him, the strength of his eyebrows and the rage in his eyes and he meets your gaze.
Somehow, in that moment you are his brother, his sworn enemy, all the contradictions of this stupid world standing across from him and free as God. You are society and wish the rules did not exist. He does not hate you and you secretly admire him, and in the time we have left before he is taken and you resume your place in the world, he will come to love you and you will ask for his forgiveness. Neither of you harbors hopeful illusions, but for a moment, humanity transcends duty. When the ranking officials and cameras leave, you put salve on his wrists, become brothers again and embrace, discuss simpler times and pleasures, and share a secret you will carry to your own grave. That night, you are ordered to the yard and empty your rifle in his chest.
The people have rejoiced, you are told. Long live freedom. You however, lived to see darker times. You lived long enough to understand we were not prepared to see so much anger, so much hatred, so much distance between in this world. We were not ready for this.