This story is based on the poem 'Pride' by Dahlia Ravikovitch. I first read it about 3 or so years back in an English class and thought 'this is perfect for Eric!', but...it just sat there on my computer for 3 years...completely untouched, until a few days ago it suddenly dawned on me. This...is an Alex poem, and one line is particularly perfect, which you'll soon see. So…enjoy! =D
I tell you, even rocks crack,
and not because of age.
His face was emotionless as his long strides carried him through the halls of Time Force. It was his first day back after taking a mandatory week off to attend his team-mate's funeral, as well as recuperate from his own injures. If one cared to look closely, the limp in his right leg was still very much evident. But nobody dared to look closely at 2nd Lt. Alexander Drake; it was said that any action beyond a respectful salute and a 'Yes sir' was strictly forbidden if you wanted to keep your job, or at least your composure. His critical eyes were rumored to be able to break through any lie, flaw, or slight uncertainty. He was always sure of himself, and anybody save the commander himself would be a fool to argue. He was the perfect officer, emotions set aside to get the job done; a stable rock in the midst of turmoil.
For years they lie on their backs
in the heat and the cold,
so many years,
it almost seems peaceful.
He knew the trainees were scared of him, the squad leaders didn't particularly like him, and his fellow lieutenants held a strange mix of admiration and loathing towards him. And outwardly, he didn't care…inwardly, he wasn't sure. It wasn't his job to be compassionate, it wasn't in his requirements to baby and coddle the new recruits; they were there to become protectors and law-enforcement officials. There would be no pity for them on the street, so he sure as hell wasn't going to show them any on the training decks. The squad leaders simply didn't know their place sometimes; if they wanted to be treated nicely, then they better suck it up quick, because Alex had no patience for whiners. He was there to command and guide them, and that was it. As for the other lieutenants and higher up officials, well, if they couldn't handle it, then they should have never been promoted. He took a moment to consider all of this, and it stung a little, knowing that so many of the people he worked with held such thoughts about him. Taking a breather, he knew it was for the best, and stood up straighter and more surely; the picture of calm. Even if his eyes betrayed the storm inside.
They don't move, so the cracks stay hidden.
A kind of pride.
But sometimes, when he lets his guard down and there is nobody to watch, his shield slips away. He allows himself a moment to grieve for those he has served with, both in war and as an officer of Time Force. For those who he might have at one point considered friends, if only through respect. But this only happens when he is alone, and most likely with a glass of Jack, with nobody to disturb his thoughts; his honored memories. Nobody, not even the psychiatrist he is forced to see for his annual evaluations and after every mission gone wrong, has seen these cracks in emotion. To them, he is as strong as ever. Nothing can faze him. Yes, they died, but they died to save hundreds. In front of others Alex does not break, he simply honors the fallen with a salute, and the living with an upward twitch of the lips and a nod.
Years pass over them, waiting there.
Whoever is going to shatter them
hasn't come yet.
Alex has few friends, and even had a few girlfriends along the way. The guys he gets a beer with on Friday nights after a long week. They get together a few times to watch a game or go to the shooting range. The girls were fun; a nice dinner and movie every once in a while. There is a sense of unity, and every so often, his smiles are bright and genuine. His friends are jealous, in that macho man sort of way, because nothing is more manly than never letting your emotions get the better of you. His girlfriend's loved it, because nothing was more sexy than a bad boy who occasionally let his smile leak out. He's lost some of these friends and girls to job transfers, break ups, marriages, in the war against mutants, or even a combination of some sort. But the loss has never been tragic. Never been enough for him to loose his composure or shed more than a lone tear. It's been years, and not even these friends have seen him loose his cool. Because, really, they're simply casual friends or ex's and nothing more.
And so the moss flourishes, the seaweed
the sea pushes through and rolls back-
the rocks seem motionless.
Time goes on, and people move on around him. He's had his own promotions, his own moves and steps in life. He's taken on more political duties, as well as started teaching in the shooting range. These new cadets seem even less competent then the last ones, and he has difficulty keeping his yelling to some semblance of reasonability. Because the target is RIGHT THERE! But except for the occasional anger, nobody has seen anything resembling emotion cross over the face of 1st Lt. Drake, and some wonder if he feels anything at all. He hears them whispering about him, spreading rumors and stories that he sometimes wonders about, and spends a little bit too much time contemplating. He never shows it, but sometimes thinks; I'm not that bad of a person, was I?
Till a little seal comes to rub against them,
comes and goes away.
When he met Jennifer Scott, she was simply another trainee…for about 10 seconds. And then he saw her, and looked at her, and then even helped her. He started letting himself go around her, because he could feel her smile turning into his. Her shy glances were returned with lopsided grins. His colleagues saw the changes well ahead of the time that he was actually aware of anything, and they were pleased with this new, brighter outlook. Before he knew it, she was graduating, and they were on a date and holding hands. She would hide a giggle (he soon learned that pointing out that she did, in fact, giggle would mean certain death) and a blush, and he would laugh in order to cover up the fact that his own face was taking on a shade resembling that of a tomato. And then Ransik was found guilty, and she had said yes, YES damnit! For the love of God and everything pure, the woman who had occupied his every thought since he met her said yes! But everything went wrong. He was dying, and she left, and when she returned; back to her time, back to him, she had left all over again. Except this time it was more painful, and so much worse then the first, because at least then history had told him she would return, and for the first time Alex could feel something cracking inside of him.
And suddenly the rock has an open wound.
His screams are loud and heart wrenching, his tears burning lines down his face, and his heart in a million pieces. The living room was a mess, with various trinkets and pieces of his life that had once been carefully set up, now strewn across the floor. There was glass shattered and embedded in the carpet, but for the life of him, he didn't care. The cries of anguish can be heard by his next door neighbors, but they don't dare intrude on the man's grief. They've heard the stories of this man; this powerful figure that had been brought to his knees by one small woman and the one small phrase that ended them. When he finds that he can't scream any more because his voice has been lost and his energy drained, he stumbles and falls into a broken heap, clutching a silver band and a crinkled picture of a smiling face which had once held promises of forever.
I told you, when rocks break, it happens by surprise.
And people, too.
Well...that's that...and I hope you enjoyed it! If you did, please leave a review for the starving author, and in college, so there isn't much else to look forward to haha. Thanks for reading! =]