Thana slide the latticed, wooden door and closed it as soon as Linton entered, shutting out the outcry of soldiers. Since the war had broken out, the house had been very quiet. For, her brothers, even the little noisy one, had been dragged to war while rumours of her father’s disappearance swept her mother away with them. She knelt by the low table in her room.
Linton lowered himself uncomfortably before her, his stiff feet slowly spreading their tops onto the rough carpet. Although they had been good friends, almost lovers, the war between their regions created tension, as though there were legions of armies between them at that moment. Since then, he felt her stoic posture and indifferent expression emanating resentment towards him, demanding to know why he had told the city folk about the village.
“Um… Thana… I… I’m sorry,” he hesitated, gazing at his blurry reflection on the surface of the table that rippled as he trembled. “I don’t know how I can apologise properly.”
The muffled war chants of soldiers and the beating of silver boots rattled in the dusty air through their silence.
“I really didn’t expect it to turn out this way,” Linton continued. Would she forgive him? How could she? If she didn’t, how could he ask his next, overwhelming question?
Thana sighed, “it’s alright.”
“Linton, it wasn’t your fault. I know. I shouldn’t have been angry at you,” she said, smoothing the folds of her dress on her lap with unease.
“How can you forgive me so hastily?! It is my responsibility now that this uproar has broken out! You need not to be polite. I was foolish.” As Linton’s voice died down, he placed his fists on the table as though trying to block the sight of his reflection. “I was foolish.”
“Sir Linton. I’m okay. It really wasn’t your fault. Now, I need to focus on getting my life back in order.” Thana put out her hand on the table, as though reaching to him, suppressing her troubles.
She began to stand up when Linton spoke again.
“Um… I would be willing… More than happy to help you with that.” Linton smiled weakly. “But… May I ask you one more question?”
Linton too stood up and paced towards her, his hands placed behind his back, gaze averting for a considerable amount of time. “I know… It is quite, quite bad timing and—You know with all this war and that such as—“
“Oh! Just hurry up!”
“Yes, ahem. I’m sorry.” He reached into his coat pocket then took his hand out, closed fingers facing her. “I too must eventually go fight… And perhaps not return. But this can only be for you.”
“What is it?”
She slide her fingers beneath his and pulled them over. A gold pin.
“This…,” she murmured. “Is this…?”
“I warned you. It was very bad timing.” Linton laughed. “But I believe it is custom for the man to propose to his love with a gold dress pin?”
Thana did not answer as she fumbled with the gold pin, the radiance of its edge reflected in her dancing irises.
“Well, what is it, Thana. Or should I say, my dear Thana?”
Thana undid the wooden pin on her dress and replaced it with the gold one, nodding gently at him.
“Of course, Sir Linton. My dearest, dearest Linton!”
And had it been so long since Linton and Thana experienced such a joyous moment together. They took each other’s hands and spun around the room, laughing, smiling. Even the menacing war cries of army generals could not make them flinch.
At last, Linton kissed wife’s hand.
“Oh, Linton. I… I don’t know what to do…” Thana murmured as she clasped his hands, interlocking her fingers with his. “There are so many things to do—How can this be?”
“To be blunt… I don’t give a damn,” he whispered in her ear, holding her in an embrace.
Their hearts began to drift to the past when the village had been shielded by mist and urban fog, a blessed anonymity that would have given their sentiments better fortune. Even as Linton held Thana, tears trickled from his eyes as he feared for their outcome amongst loving corpses on the battlefield.