“Look baby, it’s the ocean.”
She gestured out at the vast expanse of water with her free hand, her ten week old son cradled in the other arm. She stood knee-deep in the murky water, each incoming wave rocking her slightly. A playful breeze teased her hair.
Her son grinned and clumsily clapped his hands together. More, he was saying. Tell me more. Show me more.
“The ocean is a huge bathtub of salty water,” she informed her baby boy. “It’s full of fishies and sharks and dolphins and whales and, if you’re lucky, you’ll see a mermaid. On the other side of the ocean is the rest of the world. There are other people, who say different things, and eat different things, and believe different things. They are people just like you and me. They have sisters and brothers and grandmas and grandpas and mommies and daddies, just like you.
And somewhere on the other side of the ocean is your daddy…”
Killing sons and fathers, husbands and brothers, all in the name of democracy, she thought.
She looked down into the boy’s mirthful brown eyes, just like his father’s.
She turned her eyes to the horizon again, the sun warming her back. The infant in her arms remained silent, looking intently at her.
She opened her eyes.
The sun was still there. The ocean was still there, lapping at her thighs. The wind, now cold, bit through her light dress. One arm was tucked near her body, cradling nothing.
Her son was gone.
Gone, like he had been for nine weeks and six days.
Gone, like he was when his chocolate eyes looked through her for the last time, precisely twenty-one hours and sixteen minutes after they had first opened.
Gone, like his father, whose body was never found, whose headstone sat atop an empty coffin.
“Like I will be,” she whispered, inaudible over the sound of the waves.
She knelt in the salty water and wept as the tide washed over her.