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Live, Love, Lose - 23. Chapter 23

Shift of viewpoint again!

It was really hard for Paul to see George go through so much pain. Of course, it was the first time he’d been experiencing death. So he couldn’t have expected anything else…

His father always used to say when he was young that the more deaths you experience, the more trivial it becomes. He hadn’t experienced many deaths himself, so he couldn’t really agree or disagree with him. He had only lost some of his relatives. But they had never been killed…

He kept in mind that it would take him time to mourn, but he couldn’t stop living because of a death. He needed to be reminded that he would have to move on sooner or later. And leaving him for too long cloister himself in his room wasn’t that good an idea…he wanted to be there for him, even if he wanted to be left alone.

He forced him to go out with him. He couldn’t leave him a choice, otherwise, he would have never accepted to come with him. He was doing this for his own good. A bit of fresh air couldn’t be bad for him. Of course, as they were walking, he wouldn’t say a thing. Even if he was ignoring him, he was already following him, so this was already a big victory.

“Where are we going like this?”

Finally. Even if he sounded somewhat aggressive it was still better than if he hadn’t spoken at all. Yes, positivity is important, especially in such circumstances.

“We’re not going to walk for hours aimlessly, are we?”

He couldn’t help smirking at the tone he used. That was something he had got used to by that time, and he found it still better than seeing him totally down and crying his heart out.

“Just breathe. The air is warm, the sky is blue, and the sun is shining bright. Life isn’t that bad.”

These may have sounded like stupid and meaningless words, but they were true.

George was ignoring him again for a while, but he eventually replied.

“I don’t care about the weather. This isn’t the kind of thing that’s going to cheer me up. I would have preferred to have a dark, grey sky, raging with deafening thunderstorms, blinding thunderbolts, and harsh, ice-cold rain. It would have hidden my tears and reminded me of how much my own pain is insignificant compared to the vastness of the world.”

His aggressiveness suddenly decreased to turn into some flatness and monotony that made him sound lifeless as if he had lost his soul.
Of course, he hadn’t been expecting him to react positively. It would have been way too easy. But at least for now, he was still composed. If he didn’t cry during the whole day, it would be an even bigger victory.

They were both silent. There was only the buzz of the City that reached their ears. People were living their own lives as if the war had never existed. It seemed that it hadn’t reached London. Well, it hadn’t reached it yet.

He remembered pretty well what his mother told him as a youth; how the German planes had bombed the city during World War One, how it had happened all of a sudden, and how it had taken people by surprise and created panic among everyone. Something he had been too young to remember at the time. Or perhaps it was just something he had subconsciously wanted to forget and repressed somewhere in the back of his mind. He could never be sure of this hypothesis.

“I can’t believe you’ve taken a whole day off just to look after me.”

Paul turned his head to look at George, but he didn’t say a thing. He just raised one brow. He wasn’t actually that surprised that he would say that.

“Have you already forgotten that we’re at war?” The words sounded bitter in his mouth, which he could perfectly understand, of course.

“I haven’t,” he replied plainly as he looked away from him to stare ahead of him. “But I don’t think missing work for just one day is gonna have any serious impact on the outcome of the war. It’s not as if the whole city was going to be devastated and the population wiped out just because of this.”

“If only…” he looked at George again, but he had good reasons to be taken aback this time. He wasn’t sure whether George had meant for him to hear this or not. It wasn’t uttered loud enough to be addressed to him, yet he could still manage to hear it.

He decided it would be best to just shrug it off given the context. Or perhaps it was simply just a way to twist the lion’s tail somehow. Anyway, he still wasn’t going to comment about it or ask questions.

They kept walking throughout the day, but not aimlessly like what George thought. He had a place quite precise in mind. They didn’t really take the time to stop to have proper breaks. But George didn’t look like he was tired. He just looked like he simply wanted this to be over with already, hence why he was keeping a good pace; so he could go back home more quickly. To be left alone again.

Or if he really was physically exhausted, he was hiding it very well.

Near the end of the afternoon, they reached their destination. It was a hill, one of the highest viewpoints in the London area, and one of the nicest as well.

Paul looked at George to see his reaction, or if he was going to react at all. But he didn’t. His face was stoic, hard as a rock. Or if he was feeling anything at all, this time he was sure he was hiding it very well. He had already noticed in the past he was pretty good at concealing his emotions, so there would be nothing new in that.

“D’ya remember when we would take you here each time you were staying with us? It was your favourite spot in the whole city. You used to say that because it seemed we were so close to the sky that we could have reached the stars and caught them. You even said that we could easily go on the Moon.”

He smirked all the way through his words. The memory was etched in his mind. The way George would look so enthusiastic just looking at the starry sky, and how he would bounce on the grass out of excitement. That was priceless.

He glanced at George who only looked annoyed.

“I was like four or five years old when I said that…”

“Yeah, the good ol’ times.”

George was staring at him with an indescribable look on his face. But he quickly looked away and glanced at the sky.

“Yeah…” he sounded a bit wistful as he said it.

He finally dropped his poker face.

“But it’s not as if we could go back in time.” He sounded much graver now.

He glanced at him and could see that moment of emotional openness was only fleeting.

If there’s one thing he had figured out by that time, it was that George was the kind of person who liked to keep things under their control, no matter the circumstances. He was one of those who didn’t like to show their weaknesses and vulnerability. He wasn’t like this as a child, but as he grew up he noticed this change in him.

Sometimes the harshness of life teaches you naturally how to toughen up.

He knew one or two things about it.

“No, unfortunately.”

His response had George glance at him again. But perhaps this wasn’t so bad a thing after all. There were moments in his childhood he wouldn’t relive for anything in the world.

Hey, if they had the chance to go back in time, why would it be only for the good memories?

The sky was still cloudless and the sun was shining bright. They had plenty of time before the sunset. The days were getting longer and longer as summertime was finally here. He sat down on the warm grass and enjoyed the feeling of the sun on his face. It was nice to get out of the city centre once in a while.

“Aren’t you tired?”

George didn’t look like he was willing to sit down any time soon. With his position, he was just silently saying: “Can we just go back home now?” He could perfectly imagine George saying it in his head.

“The pain from walking too much is nothing compared to the pain in my heart.”

Well…he should have just shut up.

He didn’t say anything for a while, staring into the distance, and side glancing at George every twenty seconds or so.

“Just come and sit down.” His voice wasn’t demanding. If anything, it had a tiny bit of regret in it. “We’re not leaving this place anytime soon. But you’ll be able to stand up again when your butt starts becoming sore.”

But he didn’t move.

“I just don’t want you to stand there like a fool for hours.”

Neither did he talk back or move. A little while passed.

“Stop worrying for me. I can handle myself.”

Of course, he would say that.

There was only one thing left for him to do.

In a split second, he was up on his feet and tackled George to the ground.

“Wha…aaaaaaat!”

Then he started tickling his sides relentlessly. George was struggling under him, trying to pull himself out of his torturous hands, but to no avail. Paul wasn’t going to let go of him so easily.

He was writhing like a snake, making noises that sounded half like laughs and half like squeals.

“S-s….”

Well, if it was the only way to have him laugh, then so be it.

“Stop!”

The more he was wriggling the wider Paul’s smirk was growing.

He was shouting now, but there was nobody near them, so nobody could assume wrong things.

“F-F-F….”

He was now trying to kick him with his feet, so Paul had to straddle him.

“N-No!…”

He was wriggling so much that his glasses were starting to fall off his face.

“Y-you…” he was nearly convulsing by now. “B-bas…tard…!”

This lasted for a little while until Paul deemed he had suffered enough. He rolled on the grass next to him, lying on it with his legs bent in half, and he got caught in a sudden fit of laughter. He laughed so much that it made his stomach hurt, but he just couldn’t help it. His laughter finally died down after a long moment.

He propped himself up on his elbows as he learnt again how to breathe normally before he sat up properly. George was sitting in the same way as him.

“You’re a fucking bastard, you know that, right?”

He could only smirk at this, and especially the way he said it.

“Yes, love you too.”

His cocky attitude only earned him a punch in his shoulder, which only made him burst into laughter again. He could see George shake his head from the corner of his eye.

“Seriously, how old are you really? You’re supposed to be a mature and responsible grown-up, but you’re definitely not acting like one.”
Oh boy, how he loved his preachy lecturing. No, he wasn’t being ironic. He really did.

“Because I’m an adult now doesn’t mean the silly me has vanished.”

George shook his head again. And he was quite satisfied with himself.

Much time passed as they remained like this, silent and engrossed in the beauty of the sight before them. The sun was getting lower and lower in the sky.

“You’re thinking of him, aren’t you?”

They shared a look, and Paul instantly knew he didn’t need more for confirmation.

“Who else should I be thinking of?”

Paul kept staring at him as he was looking ahead of him once again.

“You.”

George locked eyes with him in one swift movement. But his lips remained sealed by silence. Paul sighed as he glanced momentarily away.

“The whole world doesn’t revolve around him. The world keeps moving on; many others have died before him and many more will if things keep going this way. I know you don’t care about the others, and I understand, that’s only human. But my point is that you should keep living, and remain strong; for him.”

His words were only echoed by the sound of the soft breeze that made their hair flutter slightly.

“I’m sure he wouldn’t like to see you so sad and crying for him. If he really loved you, he would wish to see you happy.”

He still kept quiet and chose to ignore him instead. Of course, it was always much easier to run away rather than facing the problem and solving it.

“How can I be happy again when he was the main reason for my laughs and smile?” He ended up saying in a low voice, sounding as gloomy as ever.

He was only trying to help, but he was under the strong impression that he was only making things worse. So he just kept his mouth shut. And another long while passed.

“Why…?” George trailed off. He sounded so broken. “Why did it have to happen to him…?”

Paul could feel his heart clench unpleasantly in his chest.

“I know many other people died, and that’s just awful… But why did he have to be a part of them?” He was clearly on the verge of tears, and Paul was just feeling even worse.

“He was only twenty-two years old…”

He was trying really hard to hold his tears back. He alternated between biting his lower lip harshly and chewing one of his nails.

It was too painful to watch. He put a comforting hand on his shoulder, causing George to twitch slightly.

“It’s okay. You can cry with me. I won’t judge you, let alone stop you. It’s okay to cry, even if it’s painful to see. But I won’t be selfish. You really need it right now.”

George glanced at him, with his watery eyes, and his vulnerability on full display.
He slid his hand behind his nape to reach his other shoulder and brought him closer to him, closing the gap between their bodies.

George buried his head in the crook of his neck as he started sobbing.

“Shhh…It’s okay, I told you; don’t tryna hide. You can’t be strong all the time.”

By the time George stopped weeping, the sky was already starting to get dark.

What could be more tragically beautiful than bawling your eyes out in the sunset?

His grip on him loosened.

“You know, perhaps there’s that special someone out there who can help you heal.”

He just looked utterly lost and helpless as he kept staring away in the distance. He shook his head feebly as if it had become too heavy for him to turn it around.

“No…” he uttered as fresh tears rolled down his cheeks. “I don’t think there’s anyone that can have this power…no one will ever be able to replace him…”

It just hurt more to hear him talk like this.

“You shouldn’t be so adamant and pessimistic. You never know what tomorrow will be made of.”

His lack of reaction proved that he wasn’t convinced by his words.

“It’s really kind of you to try to cheer me up, but I don’t believe in such things,” he said after a few moments of silence.

He deemed it would be better not to press the matter, and instead to let time do its thing.

Perhaps he was a little bit naive, but he did believe in such things. He believed everything that happened happened for a good reason.

Otherwise, what would be the point of one being there on this earth in the first place?

“Only time will tell.”

Hello!

So I wanted to have Paul's point of view at least once, so I hope it wasn't too bad. The next chapters will be all about George given his terrible loss. It was definitely needed for me.

So, really, brace yourselves...

Take care and thank you again for all the interesting comments ❤️

Copyright © 2021 LittleCherryBlossom26; All Rights Reserved.
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This chapter is a touching one as well as a difficult one.  When somone has a loss the way George has.  Everyone reacts differently to their loss.  There are those who become withdrawn and silent while thinking of what will happen to them.  Some react with anger and blame everyone for the loss.  Then there are those who do not show any signs of emotion or of the loss.  They bury this deep within themselves and become distant with the way they look.  Their eyes are without energy.  They just go through each day the same way, no emotion or tears not even a quiet prayer.  All anyone can do it what they know when dealing with friends or family that have had a sudden loss.  I have a feeling that Karl is going to play a part in George's life in the near future.  This may be the time for Karl to understand English more.  Maybe this is who will teach Karl the english language.  Maybe Karl and George will become much closer than we have already read about.  Life does take strange turns at times when there has been a tragedy. 

Paul was doing his  best to get George back into the good things he enjoyed.  It will take time for Paul to accomplish this as well, I do beleive. 

It is going to be interesting where and how George begins his own recovery from the loss he has received. 

War does not discriminate as to who lives or dies.  We all know that war actually is Hell for all of those who are involved.  There has never been a war for good and kindness.  George will need to cope with and deal with the war he has right now within himself. 

Thank you for such a trying moment for both George and Paul in this chapter. 

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So sad, so beautifully written.  I can feel the rawness of both George and the caring of Paul.  

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What could be more tragically beautiful than bawling your eyes out in the sunset?

What a powerful sentence that so completely describes this chapter.  I like how you are now switching the points of view from person to person.  It is a very effective writing skill when done well.  You are definitely doing it well.  My only concern is the slight jarring of the flow when there was no clue for the time change.  How long was it after George was admitted into the hospital.  Details are not relevant, a simple time frame reference would be good.

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