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War
Romance
Extraordinary Season
Writer Frances
Writer
  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
PG-13
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Extraordinary Season
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Maria, USA 2002
Frances
Jun 10, 2018
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4
11 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!SEy7YaVWYfPktgAdVJwrposted on PENANA

December stillness, crossed by twilight roads,8Please respect copyright.PENANARovtDLjPKI
Teach me to travel far and bear my loads.
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-Siegfried Sassoon-copyright protection4PENANAe6UMdTW9PV


"Following the peace and prosperity of the last hundred years after the Napoleonic wars, the shock of the Great War poisoned an entire generation of young people. 1914 marked the end of innocence for many, the horror of next four years bound to haunt 'the Lost Generation' for the rest of their lives." copyright protection4PENANApEgSUQ6QAC

Mr. West didn't bother to stand from his desk as he recited the opening words of the lecture, one he had clearly given many times. “As quotes the German classic by Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front, ‘We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces.’”copyright protection4PENANAheUEGdyOyM

Most of the freshman history class was half asleep. It was too hot for May in New England and central air wasn’t something the headmaster believed in till at least mid-June. From her coveted seat by the open window, Maria Flores-Hart appeared to be the only one glued to the lesson. Her knee bounced under her desk as she sat on the edge of her chair, biting her finger nails. copyright protection4PENANA4NSYz6RwfG

“As I’m aware your generation seems to react best to multimedia, I have found a short video on the internet and burned it to a DVD.” Mr. West clicked open the player on the wheeled television cart without standing. “Enjoy.”copyright protection4PENANAsFkIyfzE59

A finger tapped Maria’s tense shoulder. She turned an ear towards her friend Julie as the girl leaned over her desk. “You okay?”copyright protection4PENANAhnob14pASY

“Yeah sure,” Maria clipped back as Mr. West asked for someone to turn off the lights. “Why?”copyright protection4PENANAmWLfVllMSB

“Nothing. You just seem a little on edge.”copyright protection4PENANAskgN3O2Ct8

“Nope. I’m good.”copyright protection4PENANALKv9Wxel87

As the blue screen of the deep bellied TV flipped to black, Maria knew she wasn’t okay. Not in the least. 8Please respect copyright.PENANAh29y7zjHxX
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It was colorized battlefield footage accompanied by a graphic soundtrack complete with shell explosions and gun shots. The images had little effect on the rest of the students. Katie Morrison was painting her nails in the corner while Greg Rivers napped with a thin line of drool trailing over his square jaw.copyright protection4PENANAHeEX2HM5jf

“Stalin spoke the infamous quote that one death is a tragedy but a million is a statistic,” the morose narrator moaned over photographs of men choking on chlorine gas, bodies hanging from barbed wire, and rotting corpses in muddy trenches.copyright protection4PENANAe50JfWhuip

“Maria,” Julie whispered harshly. “You good?”copyright protection4PENANABCUFIEF9Jr

Maria’s hands were shaking violently, her heart thudding with adrenaline. It was another panic attack. The last time she’d had one was when she had been studying for a geometry test she had ultimately failed. She had to get out of that stifling room.copyright protection4PENANAtrG7oJObO8

She lifted a shaky hand, swallowing down tears. “Mr. West.”copyright protection4PENANAr2erMto4XG

His head shot up from the book he was reading at her tremulous voice. “Miss Flores-Hart, we are in the middle of a-”copyright protection4PENANAtyjoe12UbM

“May I please go to the nurse,” she choked out.copyright protection4PENANAlEd2LCLAOA

The room came to attention and turned towards her in the semi dark, hoping that she’d throw up all over her backpack or something. Mr. West narrowed his large eyes, his concern piqued by the urgency in her voice. “Go ahead.”copyright protection4PENANAJfDXGpq5to

“Th-thank you.” She hopped from her seat, smoothing out her navy uniform skirt and running to the door.copyright protection4PENANAMXX5lc7o6i

The school nurse also happened to be Julie’s mom, Mrs. Dale. She had known Maria for years now. Maria and Julie had first met in Brownies and sold Girl Scout cookies together outside the local supermarket till they got to middle school.copyright protection4PENANAasXouJ1gkP

Maria laid down on the leather couch in the bright room, the open window letting in a fragrant breeze scented with lilacs from the garden below. Mrs. Dale took her temperature after putting a cold compress on her head.copyright protection4PENANAQ34t0LTrQn

“Do you feel nauseous?”copyright protection4PENANAPCkNIGZP45

“I did but it’s going away now.”copyright protection4PENANA8fy6E3PFj9

“And the trembling?”copyright protection4PENANAuadzEdkyFb

Maria held out a hand, her fingers wavering only slightly.copyright protection4PENANAVvOgiwWhm1

Mrs. Dale nodded as she took the thermometer from Maria’s mouth. “You’re perfectly normal. Was it an anxiety attack?”copyright protection4PENANAnvgWBUZrzj

Maria nodded her dark head and took a deep breath, inhaling the purple scent of the flowers outside.copyright protection4PENANAB4tOD82YGH

“What was happening when it occurred? You were in history class?”copyright protection4PENANA9CdYSvvONR

“Yes. We were watching a video.”copyright protection4PENANAQbm67Y17pB

“What kind of video?”copyright protection4PENANAq0FUPj2RhJ

Maria swallowed hard, gathering her scattered thoughts. “It was about world war one.”copyright protection4PENANAzrlMqeiV36

“This was Mr. West’s history class?”copyright protection4PENANAMTi90p81wy

Maria nodded again. Mrs. Dale pressed her red lips together with a nod. “Cary West doesn’t really think about who is in the audience before he shows films.”copyright protection4PENANADXyjRoCUfU

Clearly, Mrs. Dale was referring to Maria’s family tragedy from earlier that year. Everyone knew about it. For months, her classmates had walked on egg shells around her.copyright protection4PENANAEPmZBMeUHh

Devon hadn’t been quarterback of the football team or class president, but he had been well liked at their private high school, French Preparatory Academy. He was known for organizing charity events or tutoring younger kids. He was voted Most Kind out of his graduating class. The school grieved right along with her, even by those who hadn’t known her big brother.copyright protection4PENANA0ubiEbIMdf

“I suppose it brought to mind some things, watching a movie about war,” Mrs. Dale ventured gently.copyright protection4PENANAkQdT94hMYx

“It did.” Maria sat up as she brought her a glass of water.copyright protection4PENANAHCm3CYQRSx

“Do you want me to call your parents?”copyright protection4PENANA8T2kcGvVsI

Taking a sip, Maria shook her head. It was only an hour till school got out. She didn’t want to bother them, not after all the trouble she’d gotten into a couple months back. This event would surely make them question their ultimatum with her.copyright protection4PENANAaNznGJsYvr

“You can stay here if you’d like. I’ll be in the other room finishing up some paperwork, but you can just relax. Close your eyes and maybe take a nap.” Mrs. Dale patted her shoulder and walked out, leaving the door to the little anteroom ajar.copyright protection4PENANAvc4RgHQ6yJ

Maria laid flat on her back and took even breaths, doing her best to clear her mind. She had never gone to a doctor about her anxiety but had read online about different methods of mindful breathing and meditation.copyright protection4PENANAEHCG1OnwJQ

She was the strong one. She’d always been since she was a child. Her father would stand at the roots of trees as as his daredevil daughter scaled as far up as she could go. He would laugh that she was as gutsy as both Joan of Arc and Amelia Earhart put together. Nothing daunted her. copyright protection4PENANAfUDPikyKi4

When her anxiety attacks began soon after Devon joined the special forces, she hid them as though she was ashamed. It meant weakness and she didn’t want to be seen as a coward, not when her nerve was all she had to her name. She liked to think nothing scared her.copyright protection4PENANAbNhfFxXwEv

Devon’s death had changed everything.copyright protection4PENANAficRZdGnKq

Maria bit back a tearful gulp. She turned on her side, hugging her arms over her chest and curling into a ball. A military base close by was now planning to dedicate one of it’s gates in honor of him. A plaque engraved with Devon’s face and the years of his life carved below would grace the entrance to the base. Her parents, though grief stricken, were honored. Her younger brother Jake was numb, throwing himself into his schoolwork. Maria was sick at the thought. It felt so final, almost more so than his burial. Devon was truly gone, killed in Afghanistan at nineteen years old. Barely two decades, 1982-2001.copyright protection4PENANAd0lRPDboot

Only one year more than John Kipling had lived.copyright protection4PENANAszhKPXhMtW

Maria wiped a tear as it collected above the bridge of her nose. She missed Devon every day, it never got easier. But the other students in her class, Julie, Mr. West and Mrs. Dale, would think she was insane if they knew she was crying over a boy who died 72 years before she was born.copyright protection4PENANAiIeuAeIgBt

A boy she had met for the first time a year and a half earlier.copyright protection4PENANAHPt2GjFRI4

♦♦♦copyright protection4PENANAkbECVuzdg2

Jake swiveled around in his computer chair and leveled her with the look that made her feel ten shades of stupid. She knew he didn’t mean to do it, he was always encouraging her in the math and science classes that gave her trouble. In his direct, dry manner, he said that every brain worked differently and just because she wasn’t adept at one part, it didn’t make her dumb.copyright protection4PENANA9zLo4lDMCe

Maria shifted uncomfortably under his blank stare. “What?”copyright protection4PENANAfj3JmJ32BL

“Just trying to understand why that upset you so much.”copyright protection4PENANA6VWKySe75v

“I started to think about him.”copyright protection4PENANAaf4VD8hgVT

“Devon?”copyright protection4PENANAvbdzVziYCU

Maria turned her gaze towards her hands, studying her rough nails. She needed to stop biting them. “No.”copyright protection4PENANAJIQGtoyHwE

Jake let out an exasperated sigh. “You can’t be serious.”copyright protection4PENANAdGThCwqTNm

She refused to meet his undoubtedly cynical glare.copyright protection4PENANANix0SsAbrd

“You know he’d be dead today anyway.” Jake turned back to his computer and started typing some report that made no sense to Maria. “Do you know what the odds are for someone to become a centenarian?”copyright protection4PENANA5bVVRpjq6P

Maria gnawed at the jagged edge of her thumbnail. “You know I don’t.”copyright protection4PENANA4kvXC8u21i

“Well they aren’t good. Anyway, if he had survived till today he would be over 100 years old by now. 105 to be exact. And I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound sexy to me.”copyright protection4PENANApPBWQtpqEQ

“Quit it, Jake,” Maria growled. “You make me sound like some stupid teenager mooning over a Nsync poster.”copyright protection4PENANAEJ1AESZXj6

“I never said that. John Kipling is no Justin Timberlake,” he said, shooting her a wry grin. "And I hate to break it to you but you're no Britney Spears."copyright protection4PENANAMoqil2qQ5s

Now he was making fun of her. Maria picked up a crumpled ball of paper and threw it at his head. He chuckled calmly though his dark eyes flashed with amusement and shielded his face with a forearm.copyright protection4PENANA8uhJq7dQyR

“Shut up.” She rose to her feet and stalked to the door.copyright protection4PENANAGcAHMeAMcT

“C’mon, sis. I was only kidding.” Jake clicked the mouse and the printer whirred to life. “Wait a minute, I pulled something together for you.”copyright protection4PENANASZiiiDkJup

Maria paused at the bedroom door as he walked towards his massive bookshelf. Their mother had ordered it from Ikea and knocked it together herself as a Christmas present a few years back. He crouched to the ground and perused the bottom shelf that was organized with white 1” binders. Jake was one of those truly annoying geniuses who happened to be incredibly neat as well.copyright protection4PENANAbDUtnkAAb9

“Here it is.” He handed her one of the folders. The label on the binding read ‘John Kipling -Battle of Loos, 1915’. “I started this for you a couple months back. Though I have a feeling you’ll be adding a lot more to it.”copyright protection4PENANArRl2z8h9Ut

Flipping it open, Maria ran a hand over the first photo of him she’d ever seen that was printed on the first page. After she'd gotten the courage to Google his name, a plethora of results had popped up. This was the first image with a simple inscription below, ‘Second Lieutenant John Kipling of the Irish Guards, 1897-1915’. The moment she’d read his date of death, she’d closed the browser and refused to search him again.copyright protection4PENANA3Ntl5LZquu

In his officer uniform, John was almost unrecognizable with the full mustache and lack of spectacles. But it was him, the same bright hazel gaze under heavy eyebrows and turned down mouth. Only five years older from the time she’d first met him in December of 2000. At least that had been the year for her, it was 1910 for him.copyright protection4PENANAQF7K8u5J5g

After that first google search, she’d vowed never again to look online for John Kipling again. The shock had been too great. He had died merely weeks after his eighteenth birthday. The knowledge was too much to bear.copyright protection4PENANASx7ezGnQQi

And then the same thing happened to Devon.copyright protection4PENANAkU5NfbyfC2

Maria snapped the binder shut and stared at it silently. Jake sighed. “I don’t want to upset you with this, but it might help you cope. If you are still planning on returning to that time, you will have to come to terms with this stuff. You must learn to accept it.”copyright protection4PENANAJsIRcRmiBr

She turned away, bitten by the truth of his words. “I wish we could go back.”copyright protection4PENANAytYGIyn6oe

“To when?”copyright protection4PENANAoJ8uwnG5Di

She swallowed hard. “To when Devon first left. Maybe we could sneak in, change his mind-”copyright protection4PENANA7mKQdXIzfj

“That’s a stupid thing to say and you know it.” Jake snapped viciously.copyright protection4PENANA1ONZvvxSCW

Maria blinked up at him through the tears gathering in her eyes, surprised by the sharpness in his voice. Jake had recently gone through a growth spurt and was a couple inches taller than her, taller than John Kipling as well. Devon had been over six feet tall, so it seemed Jake would follow their older brother’s example.copyright protection4PENANA60GevcCbhf

“You know the risk of changing things that drastically. Don’t you remember mom and dad yelling at you about the grandfather paradox when you got caught?” He marched back to his computer and sat down hard in front of the monitor. He wiggled the mouse and the black screen came to life. “Who knows what kind of mess we’ve made so far. Though mom and dad seem convinced about this whole alternative universe thing, but I’m not so certain.”copyright protection4PENANAtpCegPcYps

“But it was so recent. Devon was only here a few months ago.”copyright protection4PENANAhqg4qLAXEc

I know he was only here a few months ago, I’m his sibling too,” Jake spat over his shoulder. “I don’t want to talk about this, Maria. It’s pointless. Devon is gone. John Kipling is long gone. Learn what you can about him for the project for mom and dad’s sake but leave it well enough alone. Got it?”copyright protection4PENANAUKdAZINCU5

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