Cold weather and darkness; that was all I remembered on that day. Ashes fell down like a heavy snowstorm, and covered the ground in a grey coat. The wind howled harshly; debris flew everywhere. Down below me were the remains of Rome. Once a beautiful city inhabiting many religious believers for centuries, it seemed to have been the perfect way for her to die.
Thunder and lightning roared in the sky above me as they competed for dominance. Hmm, it seemed us humans picked up a part of our aggressiveness from Mother Nature, whether we agreed or not. After raping her lands and abusing her resources for so long, it karma had finally caught up with us.
Rome was not the only city who fell: Venice, the big apple, and hell even the city of love; they all fell. Their supreme buildings collapsed onto the streets as the people below screamed in horror. Hah, fear: the ultimate weapon that we were weary of yet used many times to get ahead in the game. Throughout our short existence, humanity has always managed to overcome situations which enabled us to evolve technologically. With humans becoming the number one species on Earth, we evolved into an arrogant race as we believed nothing could stop us. Well, it looked like we certainly got our asses kicked. Now, humanity was on the bridge of extinction.
A flash of lightning pierced a few meters beside me, but I did not move. Instead, I walked slowly down the hill, and made my way towards the now dead heart of the city. As I walked, I scanned my surroundings and was drawn into my subconscious.
The sun is shining brightly and everyone is in a happy mood. Children are innocently playing while the adults are talking amongst themselves. I see myself walking towards a park, pleasantly humming a tune. I reach my destination and lean against a bar, admiring the beautiful scenery. A pleasant breeze arrives, blowing my long, brown hair. Not long after a pair of strong arms wrap my waist from behind and I feel a face pressed against my hair. A slight sniffling is heard before a contented sigh arrives. I lean back and close my eyes.
"You've been busy," says the husky voice.
"My studies have been taking a lot of time," I reply.
"Even from me?" he mocks being hurt.
I turn around and face him.
"Even from you, unfortunately." I caress his delicate cheeks.
"I've missed you," he says as he brings me closer.
"It's been far too long, my love," I reply, running my fingers through his golden hair.
He brings his face closer. His lips brush mine.
"I've missed your lips, and everything about you." His eyes flicker at me.
"My lips and everything that is mine belongs to you." I wrap my arms around his neck.
He slightly smirks.
"They better be, otherwise I would hunt down anyone who took you away from me and kill them."
I raise an eyebrow.
"That's a little extreme, don't you think?"
He goes silent, and then looks down. I'm slightly worried.
"Love, what is it?"
A few moments of silence pass before he takes a breath and looks at me. I stare back, trying to unlock his thoughts. His ocean eyes bore deep into mine, as if he was peering into my soul. He spoke.
"I still can't get rid of the thought that I almost lost you. The mercenaries attacked, and you defended that small school. When I got the call saying that you were in the hospital in life threatening conditions, my blood went cold. I swore my heart stopped when I saw you on the bed, covered in blood and not responding. Eventually you recovered, but those bastards who did that to you got away. Just the thought of you gone; I would not be able to live without you. I just…. I love you, and I can't lose you." He looks down, almost as if he was embarrassed.
My facial expression goes soft as my hands lift his face up. I kiss him gently then press my forehead against his. Our eyes meet and we stare at each other, losing ourselves to the other. His composure relaxes, and he sighs apologetically. I speak.
"No matter what happens, you will never lose me. I promise."
He smiles gently.
I smile in return and embrace him. I remember wanting that moment to last forever.
Suddenly, my lover is pulled from my arms, and I see him lying lifeless on the ground in front of me. His blue eyes stare at the sky blankly, no longer carrying the glow they used to have. His blond hair is deranged and blood pours out of his body.
Tears stream out of my eyes as I scream in loss and agony. Fire slowly creeps its way towards me. I look up blankly, not bothering to run away. In the background, screams are heard as the fire claims more victims to its ever growing list. I look around at the dying world, not caring about the oncoming danger. I continue to stare at the fire, watching it get closer. I close my eyes, and prepared to accept my fate, knowing I would reunite with my lover for good.
Amazingly, the fire spread around me, enveloping me in a hot embrace. Then, everything went dark.
A boom of thunder brought me out of my thoughts and I shook my head. I looked around; still a world covered in ash and wreckage. I cursed in my breath, and moved along. Those were painful memories that I wanted to forget; of a time that would never come back, of a man that I would never hold in my arms again.
I shook my head again and focused on the road ahead. As I approached what was left of downtown Rome, a weird feeling developed in my gut. At first it felt like nothing, yet with each passing minute, the feeling got stronger. I narrowed my eyes as I didn't like it at all. As I reached an old intersection, I debated on what path to take.
Out of nowhere, a faint cry carried through the wind. I turned in the direction, and wondered what it was. Curiosity got the best of me, so I proceeded towards the source of the noise. I arrived at a collapsed diner with its insides spewed out along the street. I cautiously entered through a broken window, and moved in.
With each step I took, the sound of breaking glass disrupted the dominant silence. I took out a flash light and switched it on, the sole tool I had to guide me through the eerie darkness. It was unbearably silent, and I wondered whether I had imagined the noise. As if on cue, the cry erupted, that time much closer. I reached for my dagger, and proceeded towards the source. It led me to the back part of the diner which I assumed used to be the kitchen. I scanned my surroundings, and slowly proceeded forward until I heard the cry from the left. I shone my flash light in that direction and came across a pile of blankets and rags. My eyes narrowed as I walked towards it and got on one knee. I heard the cry again, slightly muffled, as if it came from underneath the pile. Cautiously, I slowly uncovered the pile, and then widened my eyes.
Oh shit. That was the first thought that came to mind. My head spun around in all directions as I looked for anything that could have helped me out. I cursed when nothing was found, and then looked back down. I stared as if an alien was in front of me; a baby boy lay naked as he thrashed his tiny body while he cried. I stared blankly as I did not know what to do. Abruptly, the crying stopped and I found myself staring at a pair of beautiful blue eyes. I found myself drawn to them, and for a few minutes, we just stared at each other. There was something so familiar about them; as if I had a habit of staring at these eyes once upon another life time. Almost as if I was staring at…..
I blinked rapidly to push back the oncoming tears, and then shook my head. I glared at the ground until I heard a…giggle? I glanced back at the baby and indeed, saw him smiling at me. I blinked. He started to coo, and spit formed at his mouth. He then spread his arms out in front, as if he wanted me to pick him up. Slowly, I took him in my arms and awkwardly pressed him against my chest. Immediately, his little mouth tried to suckle on me. I looked down confused, and then a thought of realization hit me: he was hungry. Again, the baby pressed his mouth over the cloth that covered my breasts. Eventually he stopped. I sighed in relief, but cursed myself at my luck. The baby started to cry once more.
I looked around desperately as I tried to find something that would sooth him. Suddenly, a memory of my mother teaching me about motherhood flashed in my mind. Carefully, I placed one arm beneath him, while the other wrapped his back more firmly. I gently shook him in an attempt to calm him down. I also began to softly sing a traditional Italian song. Slowly, but surely, the baby calmed down until he stopped crying all together. Slightly concerned about the silence, I looked down and noticed that he was sleeping. I once again sighed: thank goodness I paid attention to my mother's life lessons.
I slowly bent down and grabbed a warm looking blanket. Once I covered the baby with it, I turned around, and walked towards the exit. As I stepped back outside, I wondered what I would do with the baby. I couldn't just leave it alone; it was a miracle that he survived by himself for who knew how long? Hmm. Despite my hesitance about wanting children, I guessed that I should keep the baby and try to raise it as my own. I sighed. Yeah; me as a mother? That would so work out. I would probably increase the infant's chances of death by being with me, then if it were on its own. Well, my decision was made. I would keep him.
I adjusted my arms around the infant. I looked down once more to make sure he was alright, and then made my way down the dead streets. I had no idea how this child survived, but at that moment, he was my responsibility. I hummed a tune, and then a thought came into my mind; the boy needed a name. I stopped in my tracks as I reflected hard on a good name. The infant turned his head, and then went back to sleep. He cooed a bit as well. An unfamiliar emotion swelled deep in my heart. Instantly, the perfect name came in mind. I looked down at my new baby, and smiled gently. I rubbed his back affectionately, completely amazed that such a creature can have had a powerful effect on me. I never thought that I would have been able to love again, especially after all that has happened.
"I don't know how you survived, or why, but now I will consider you as my son. I promise that I will give you all the love I can offer and protect you with my life. Welcome home Enrique." I smiled softly, and continued my walk.
Somehow, somewhere, I felt that there was someone watching over me; it was giving me encouragement and protection from whatever difficulties I would have ahead of me. I didn't know what I have gotten myself into by adopting the child, but at that moment I didn't care. He was mine, as I was his. And hey, I could have viewed this as practice if I have children of my own one day. I snorted; yeah right. As far as I knew, Enrique and I were the only survivors in the whole world. Not like I was gonna get pregnant anytime soon. I shook my head and chuckled a bit. At least I still had my humor, and I have a companion. As I walked down the empty streets, I reflected on what the outcome would be. As a new mother, I had more responsibilities. I shrugged halfheartedly, and then walked on. Symbolically, a few rays of sunlight managed to penetrate the dark nuclear clouds, and I found myself walking towards the same park. And so my journey began.