by James Rodriguez Daza
The warrior returns home from the battlefield fatigued from the many skirmishes he endured. Looking back at his life, he questions the path he took and re-examines his choices.
Days pass. Reunions follow. Family and friends welcome back the warrior weathered by his experiences in combat. Quiet, somber, and soft-spoken, he exchanges salutations and embraces his once-estranged kin with a quiet enthusiasm feeling grateful to hold them again. Excited for his safe return, the family holds a celebration in his honor inviting the whole town to join in the festivities.
Now, the warrior is not accustomed to such Roman triumphs as that of which had been prepared. He, on the other hand, takes greater delight in a simple stroll through the forest. Nevertheless, he understands and appreciates the gesture.
Twighlight sets and the cool night sky is lit up with the celebratory fires of the party. What a party!!! The town arrived with gifts, food, and drinks. Entertainment ranged from live bands and performance artists to acrobats and clowns. The sheer magnitude of such a celebration had the warrior feel so overwhelmed that he began to prefer to long for a good duel with a respected foe.
Strolling through the massive wave of guests, he sees an unexpected sight, a familiar face. Her smile and glistening eyes always stood out. Dressed in a classy evening dress, she stood inconspicuously among the crowd having a drink, laughing with friends, at times accepting a dance from a few men politely ending with a bow or a gentle hug. The warrior has battled against bandits, elite soldiers, tested the violent seas, trekked perilous terrains. None however matched the simple challenge of a friendly salutation between old friends.
Tongue-tied, he took a drink from a passing waiter for needed courage. Among the hundreds present, she stood out. She always has to his recollection. An awkward but gentle hello clumsily blurted out. She in return offered a welcome hug and her gratitude to God for the warrior’s return. Reluctant to let go of their embrace, he thanked her. He wanted to say more but for that moment, he suffered a momentary episode of muteness.
She continued to enjoy the party sometimes sneaking a passing glance at the smitten warrior. As the evening continued, the two shared a couple of dances and on occasion engaged in small talk.
To the warrior, it was enough to realize after so many years how much she meant to him, yet like all dreams, this one eventually had to end when he learned that she had been promised to another who couldn’t attend the party due to the fact that he was away on business.
Nevertheless, he knew that night what he felt. As she left the party offering her good-byes, the warrior looked over as she disappeared into the evening with her kin with whom she had traveled. That night all he thought about were those few moments he shared with her. The battle scars and bruised limbs didn’t seem to bother him as much as they normally would. For that small moment, he was genuinely at peace.