You wake up clinging to a cold ground that you pray doesn’t cave in under the weight of your heart. Weary lungs find oxygen, bloodshot eyes find sky. Infinite, steel-grey sky. Blistered hands open slowly and reach blindly for a weapon that’s gone missing.
Pulling your shoulders from the earth, you survey the field and struggle to absorb the disarray. Boots have come unlaced, and you wonder whether you fought or ran before the smoke cleared. Maybe both.
Whose work was this? No signs of death or carnage, but you remember the onslaught. No evidence of victory or defeat, but you remember a faltering, aching courage. Did you even hear it coming? Where were the hoofbeats, the levers, the sounding charge? All you recall is the aftermath; the echo of your own solitary why.
Is this an ending? A failure? An impasse? It is if you call it such. But what story ends before its hero has fought well?
Perhaps this battle of uncertain ends is a moment to find out what you’re made of; to face the necessary pain squarely and run straight through without questioning whether or not you could have averted it, whether or not you deserve it, or whether or not you’ll make it out unbroken.
Go, find out. The only defeat is to turn away. Collect your courage and run with resolve. You will be armed.