“No! You can’t! I won’t let you! There has to be another way,” she pleaded.
“You know there isn’t,” he replied. “If they find me by myself, they’ll assume I was alone.” Somber yet at peace, he’d accepted the situation and knew what he had to do. “Listen, you just take care of the kids and keep moving.” His voice broke at the thought of not seeing his kids grow up. “Never stay anywhere for longer than a night,” he added. Like she didn’t already know. But what does one say in the face of one’s own imminent death? What words are appropriate? It was just a way of holding on to this final moment a little longer. His eyes welling up, he reached out to her. They embraced, tightly. After a moment of fighting the natural desire to hold on forever, he let her go. “Go,” he whispered.
She nodded, regaining her composure. She gave him one last kiss then turned to the kids.
He wouldn’t say goodbye to them. It would hurt too much. Besides, the kids wouldn’t understand. He watched as she shut the heavy metal door and heard her lock it from the inside. They were safe.
He waited a moment, trying to prepare himself for what was about to happen. He found peace in the knowledge that his family would be safe. That his pursuers were corrupt and his would be a just death added to his solace. He was ready.
He could hear them now. They spoke loudly as they approached his position. Armed thugs, they were the embodiment of brute force. No matter. He filled his mind with images of his wife and children, whispered a short prayer and slowly rose to a standing position. The world around him fell silent as he rose. He didn’t hear the shouts. Nor did his mind register the sound of guns firing. For a moment he felt sharp pain at various points in his body then even that began to fade. His vision blurred. The floor seemed to rise and turn sideways. No matter. He was at peace. I was no matter at all.
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