Some brave men were meant to fight. Some brave men were meant to lead. Some brave men were meant to watch. Some brave men were meant to perish. Emilia was not some of these brave men. She was a childish girl who listened to music, saw castles and dresses, and spun in pretty shoes with her arms wide like wings – and she was meant to die.

God gave brave men purpose. They rise to the occasion in a cry of faith to alter the path of history. My people were brave men. They rose together against the Germans, stood as examples of resistance, and witnessed blood for blood. But when the larger war fell short, the time came too soon. The earth embraced their bodies, sang with the tune of their soul, remembered with grace, pride, and dignity, and sorrow, pain, and anguish. Brave men were brave by choice. Men who were not brave did not have a choice, other than be men. Just men.

But Emilia was no man, brave or not, and God gave her no purpose other than to smile and laugh. She was a childish girl until she saw the end of her days loom from her bed, the sun an illusion through the windows, and the ceiling, her darkness. What crime could a girl have committed to deserve such fate? How could God be a god to put a girl in a road she could not resist? Strangled by days of pain, pushed from the precipice, murdered by whim. Who would remember the tragic girl and feel her pain once the memories have faded?

I will never forget Emilia. I think of her in every single waking moment. I do not utter her name or share her story to another soul. What did a tragic girl mean to those who have never known her as I did? I fear to dislike the person for his or her harmless thought. They all come to me as lies, as false condolences. Not until they curse God as I do for the cruel punishment or cease to side by Him and His mysterious ways will I be comforted.

But the comfort never comes. Death follows me closer than my shadow. Death flows within me stronger than my blood. Death is the fire that burns my throat, the same hands that wrapped around Emilia's neck and forced the air out of her lungs. I think of her more than ever. I try to grasp her pain when she lied on the bed for days like I did, when she could no longer live in a dream of her own making. But I was not a childish girl who listened to music, saw castles and dresses, and spun in pretty shoes with her arms wide like wings. I was a man meant to die, helplessly watching on as my loved ones fade away with my life. Did Emilia feel this way? Did she see the same stone faces that had grown weary and given up on her? Did she see it in me?

What I would have done to change her fate. Perhaps when I am older, I thought, the possibilities would open. But I did not see them. If not that, I could not make them either. I beat war drums with my tune but the ears meant for them were miles away. I was safe, living peacefully, famously, while my people bleed for our country. My friends, silent in their letters, perhaps dying as faceless rebels. Oh God...

This body did not know how to fight. This mind knew the science of music before it was older than three, but it did not know more than that. What could have I done to alter Emilia's fate? What could I do to change mine?

Emilia, my little sister; she was fourteen and dead before her time. I follow her footsteps, but I don't see her trail. I remember her face, but I've forgotten the scent. A phantom fire without heat. A false silhouette without body. What I would have done to change her fate. If I were to change mine, then I must know that I could have changed hers too.

The answer is beyond me, beyond this bed. I cannot make a journey to the sun and stars to find out. I am but a man. Just a man. The only thing left for me is to dream.