Flip had done nothing. He wasn’t sure what would be the thing that would haunt his nightmares: the fear that had grabbed his entrails at the idea that he could be discovered or her screams as she was dragged away. Why had he taken her away? Why hadn’t he just killed her there, like they had killed so many others? Why it would have been more merciful. It would have been kinder to her, to him, to all of them. Or was it selfish of him to think that? Would it have been easier for him now to know that there was no more he could do for her? He felt terrible, to say the least. They had come back with their hands filled with food but with one of them missing. He had been the one that had told her parents that she had been the foolish one, that she had ran on her own further when she should have stayed and it had been the worse moment of his life. But he had taken on him. He had looked in the eyes of a mother that had just lost yet an other child to the enemy. He had watched a father break down, a proud, strong rock crumble into pieces at the news. And new tears had streamed down his face. He owned her at least that. It was his fault. He should have called her back as soon as he could, tell her to let the bag be, it was just an other bag. Just an other stuff she didn’t really need. And yet, there was this voice, deep down, that kept nagging him: what if she hadn’t run off? Would the Radiniri have seen them all? Killed them? Found the ones that were still hiding? A part of him kept telling him it was for the best. And that made him sick, sick of this place, sick of himself, sick of the world they lived in. He understood Antoine better now. He felt like giving his life away – and yet, he held back because he knew others were still hoping and that he had no right to destroy that. A cool, soothing hand laid gently on his arm. Flip knew who it was before it touched him – Sitting Bull always knew when he was feeling down and needed counsel. Likewise, he always had good words to give. “Why are we still fighting, Changing Mind?” Asked the old man. His grandson sat up and looked at him in the dark with surprise. Whatever he had been expecting, it hadn’t been this question. However, he took a moment to consider it and even took a mental step back to look at the full picture. “Because…” His first impulse was to reply that they had to keep surviving because the Radiniris wanted them to die and that it would be going too easy. But he felt that it wasn’t what Sitting Bull wanted to hear. “Because it wouldn’t be honorable. To give up without trying.” “No, that’s not it. Why do we fight, my child? Why do you try to survive?” Flip remained silent for a while. “I… I don’t feel like fighting anymore, Grandfather. I… after what happened today.” The man wasn’t ashamed of admitting his weakness to his grandfather, but he looked around to see if anyone had heard his confession. Everyone seemed asleep, but it was hard to tell in the dark. “But what kept you going on before?” The old man’s eyes shone a little in the storm lamp Louis had extracted from somewhere and that was constantly shining over their hiding place. “What drove you?” “I…” Flip took a long moment to consider the question. He closed his eyes and breathed in. The answer suddenly became clear to him. “Because I wanted to.” “Yes, that is it.” Sitting Bull smiled. “Don’t you ever forget that. You haven’t been named Changing Mind for nothing: it is the name the spirits gave me for you. It is to remind you that you are free to flip at any moment. To change how you think you are. It is the medicine of the opossum.” “The one that play dead.” “Yes. A moment he is alive, the next he is dead, and it is that change that saves his life. Follow yourself and your will. Never will you be stronger then when you do so.” “I won’t forget it anymore.” Both Natives stay very still for a moment but suddenly there is a sound outside their tunnel. Flip tenses and get up, listening to the darkness. It’s a voice. “Bonjour? Il y a quelqu’un?” It’s Élodie’s voice.
Written by Clayem on 21 April 2016
The end (for now)