The Brothers Lionheart
” Dear Jonathan, even if they don’t write about you in the history books, you were just as brave at the critical moment and you were a hero as great as any other. Your old schoolteacher will never forget you. Your friends will also remember you for a long time. It will be empty in the classroom without our happy and beautiful Jonathan. But the gods love those who die young. Rest in Peace, Jonathan Lionheart.
She’s pretty silly, Jonathan’s schoolteacher, but she liked Jonathan very much, just as everyone else did, and it was good that she thought up that business about Lionheart. That was really good.
There probably isn’t a single person in town who doesn’t grieve for Jonathan, or who doesn’t think it would have better if I had died instead. At least, that’s what I gather from all the women who come here with their materials and muslins and stuff. They sigh and look at me when they go through the kitchen, and they say to Mother, “Poor Mrs. Lion! And Jonathan too, who was so exceptional.”
We live in the building next door to our old building now, in an apartment exactly like the old one, but it’s on the ground floor. We have been given some second-hand furniture by the parish, and the women have also given us some things. I lie in a sofa-bed almost identical to my old one. Everything is almost like it was before. And yet everything--absolutely everything--is not like it was before. For there’s no Jonathan any longer. No one sits with me and tells me things in the evenings. I’m so lonely that it hurts inside me and all I can do is to lie and whisper to myself the words that Jonathan said just before he died, that moment when we lying on ground after we had jumped. He was lying face down, of course, but someone turned him over and I saw his face. A little blood was running out of the corner of his mouth and he could hardly speak. But it was as if he were trying to smile all the same, and he managed a few words. “Don’t cry, Rusky. We’ll meet in Nangiyala.”
He said just that and nothing more. Then he closed his eyes and people came and took him away, and I never saw him again.
I don’t want to remember the time just afterward. But you can’t forget anything so terrible and painful. I lay here in my sofa-bed and thought about Jonathan until I thought my head would burst, and no one could possibly long for someone as I longed for him. I was frightened, too. I kept thinking, suppose all that about Nangiyala wasn’t true, suppose it was just one of those things that Jonathan used to think up?