I have been lonely from the start.
From the moment I was "born" to the time a ship sailed into one of my harbors for the first time, I have been alone. There was no one to see, no one to talk to. The natives thought I was some sort of supernatural being, not to be looked directly in eye or touched. After all, my skin was light and my eyes a stunning blue, while their skin was dark and their eyes a soft brown. Not a single person accepted me.
Then one morning, when I was playing with my only friend (a rabbit), I heard footsteps come up from behind me. I thought maybe it was another native coming to give another useless offering, but instead, I found a man who looked similar to me. His skin was glowing it was so light and he towered over me. Blond, tussled hair hid vibrant green eyes and the sun cast stark shadows over his elaborate clothing. I thought he was a god. He seemed surprised to see me sitting there, for he visibly flinched upon finding me. For a horrible moment, I thought he was going walk away.
However, he crouched next to me, looked me in the eye, and said, "Are you a new country?"
I was overjoyed that he recognized me. He told me his name was Arthur, but that his official name was Great Britain. He asked if I had a name and I froze, unsure of how to answer. Did I have a name? How could I be sure? I thought back to the names the natives kept calling me: Amer, Ikatah, Alefra. Most I did not understand. However, these gave me an idea.
After a moment, I told him, "My name is America, but it is also Alfred."
From then on, Arthur stayed with me. He told me about other countries, people who were similar to me; he gave me something called a book, filled with characters I did not understand, but he soon taught me how to read; he cooked for me, feeding me food that tasted delicious. The most significant thing he taught me, though, was how to smile and laugh. For the first time in my life, I had a best friend. I was truly happy with him and it seemed the feeling was mutual.
As time went on, Arthur drifted farther and farther away from me. Instead of asking how I was doing, he asked how well my colonies were holding up, how many resources I had left. His taxes started to suppress both me and my people. It felt as if I could not breathe under all of the sudden weight. What was Arthur doing? Why was he treating me this way? I thought he loved me. I responded with the only way I thought reasonable: rebellion. I revolted and gained independence from him, thinking he would respect me and treat me fairly again. But after the battle, he left and never came back.
I took Arthur for granted. He was only trying to help and I shoved him away. There was no way he could love me anymore, especially the way I had loved him recently; I was his little brother. After he left, I realized how much I loved him. To this day, I miss him so much it hurts. There is nothing I can do now. Arthur is gone and he is not coming back.
During the first years of independence, there was much turmoil in my country, for there was no real government and people were still struggling from the war. I tried my best to recover from a broken country and broken heart, but it was difficult. My people would not stop arguing, my heart would not stop bleeding. Other countries turned a blind eye to my suffering, even when I called for help. All they wanted was trade with the fertile, abundant America. Who wanted to actually talk to a newbie country?
I couldn't figure out why people would not talk to me, even when I found my footing again. Several times I tried to capture Arthur's attention and even others with new inventions, but they remained indifferent. The horrible loneliness slowly crept back under my skin and into my heart. Maybe I wasn't being cheery enough? Everyone loved a happy person, so I brightened my personality. Though I smiled and laughed while I was around other people, no one seemed to care; they wanted my resources and nothing else. No matter how powerful I became, no one wanted anything to do with me, especially Arthur. I was on the verge of falling apart.
My enthusiasm and cheeriness became a wall to block out how I really felt. No one can see how much I was suffering, for that only shows weakness. Who would care or want to know anyway? If I let out even just a little bit, the façade I've been building up until now would come crashing down and I would break, right then and there.
What did I do to become so unlovable?
I leaned back in my conference seat, running my hands through my hair. There was no time to brush it this morning and I was sure my cowlick was sticking up in crazy directions. We were all listening to Yao, who was giving a speech about a method to reduce our peoples' carbon footprint. Though I was bored, I still plastered a happy grin on my face, as if everything was fine and dandy.
But nothing was fine. Arthur hadn't even so much as glanced at me in the past few months, like he was going out of his way to avoid me. I felt horrible because of it. It seemed there was something physically heavy weighing on my chest. With everything else, I tried to ignore and hide it, but it was becoming exceedingly difficult.
When I tuned in to part of the lecture Yao was giving, a contributing idea popped into my mind.
I raised my hand suddenly. "I have an idea!" I said. Maybe I could actually do something this time. If I helped, maybe people would take me seriously.
Yao turned to face me, obviously annoyed with the sudden interruption, but had no intention of calling on me. Ludwig sighed and shook his head. His expression was tired.
"Alfred, please. Let Yao finish his speech," he said nonchalantly, not remotely interested in what I had to say. I settled back down into my seat.
"Sorry," I mumbled, more than embarrassed, but of course, I would not show it. The weight on my chest started to settle somewhere close to my stomach, leaving an uncomfortable tingling sensation. I ignored that, too. Maybe I had one too many hamburgers this morning?
When the meeting resumed, I looked at Arthur, who was sitting torturously right next to me, calmly taking notes. I loved the way his eyebrows creased together when he was thinking hard, or when he bit his lower lip when he was struggling to write faster. I would never be able to tell him that.
Thinking I could gain his attention even for a moment, I playfully nudged his foot. He only sighed and reluctantly put his pen down.
"Alfred, I'm trying to take notes. Would you please wait until after the meeting to bother me?" he whispered. Not once did he look in my direction, just stared up at the ceiling.
His words cut deep, even though he didn't intend them to. I tried not to visibly flinch. I hadn't realized I bothered him so much. Maybe that's why he stayed away from me. Tears started to burn the backs of my eyes, which I hated. I never cried in public.
Instead of letting the tears fall, I placed a teasing smile on face and looked back at Yao. The tingling in my stomach grew to an uncomfortable pain. I thought about asking if
I could use the bathroom (though that would have been hard to do without looking like a stupid slacker).
Then the tingle exploded into excruciating pain.
My pencil scratched across my paper quietly as I desperately tried to keep up with Yao's lecture. Unfortunately, Yao spoke rather fast, while my hand was rather slow. That was not the reason I wasn't able to focus, however. Usually, I was fine during meetings, but that was before they switched the seating chart again (to match everyone's taste).
They sat me right next to Alfred.
It was absolute torture. The smug look he had on his face all the time only made me sad and reminded me of the Revolution. He shoved me away from the person I loved the most: him. If he had told me I was pushing too much on him, I could have found a way to relieve him. But that was Alfred's problem; he never tells anyone what he's feeling until its too late.
After the Revolution, I was too broken hearted to talk to anyone, even Francis. It was then that I realized I loved Alfred in a different way than I had before. But of course, it was too late to tell him. He hated me and there was nothing I could do about it.
When I felt Alfred lightly nudge my foot, goosebumps traveled up my leg at the speed of light. I struggled to keep my composure. At this point, I've come to terms with myself, meaning I could never tell Alfred my feelings because nothing will ever happen at this point. For months, I've had to avoid Alfred to control myself. Whenever I see him, I want to cry. My one love will never feel the same.
So instead of nudging back or looking at him, I said, "Alfred, I'm trying to take notes. Would you please wait until after the meeting to bother me?" It was true in a sense, but Alfred had never bothered me. But I couldn't stand to look at that teasing, charming, gorgeous smile of his. It was too much.
After a moment, I noticed Alfred was unusually quiet. He wasn't fidgeting like the teenager he was and he was normally complaining under his breath. When I risked a glance in his direction, I was shocked to find him deathly pale. Francis, on his other side, had also noticed.
"Alfred, what's wrong?" I whispered urgently. He didn't answer, just kept staring at nothing. His eyes were extremely unfocused, even with his glasses. It looked like he'd seen a ghost. "Alfred?"
Just as I was about to grab his arm and shake him, he doubled over sharply, holding his stomach. He started to shake uncontrollably.
I jumped out of my chair and knelt next to Alfred, whose eyes were clamped shut. It was obvious he was in a lot of pain. Whimpers escaped from his mouth.
"Alfred, tell me where it hurts," I said to him. I took his face in my hands to pull it up to me. I felt wetness on his cheeks and saw that tears were pouring out of his eyes. His shaking grew worse.
"Oh, God, it hurts " he whimpered pathetically. The veins in his temples were starting to poke out. Something was seriously wrong.
As I tried to calm him down and locate the pain, his whimpers turned to moans. Francis also got out of his chair to settle next to Alfred. He brushed Alfred's hair out of his face, distress etched into his features. I saw the sweat beading on his forehead.
Suddenly, Alfred's moans became screams of agony. I stepped away for a moment, taken by surprise. His shaking was soon joined with writhing.
"Amérique!" Francis shouted, grabbing his arms. At this point, everyone was aware of the situation. Matthew was staring in horror at his older brother, not sure of what to do. He crouched next Francis, trying to comfort him.
Yao was taking in the situation from where he was standing. Even though he seemed the most calm, Kiku was the first to take action. "We need to take him to the hospital," he commanded, immediately putting everything he was using down.
Francis and I slipped our arms underneath Alfred's and started hoisting him up. As soon as Alfred was upright, his screams became notably louder. His tears were running down his neck and staining his beloved bomber jacket.
"It's no use. He's in too much pain to stand up!" I shouted frantically. It struck me that Alfred could be dying and we weren't doing anything to help. Tears pricked the back of my own eyes.
Suddenly, Ivan was behind me. "Excuse me," he said calmly, pushing me out of the way. I thought he might try and do something, since he and Alfred have recently had a rocky relationship, so I tried to grab his arm. But before I could do anything, Ivan slipped his arms beneath Alfred's knees and armpits and lifted him from the chair, carrying him in his arms.
"Let's go," Ivan said, gesturing with his head towards the door.
As we burst through the doors and ran down the hallways, I was right next to Ivan, keeping an eye on Alfred. He continued to scream and tremble in Ivan's arms. His hands clenched his bicep so hard that more veins were showing. Wet spots blossomed like flowers where his face brushed Ivan's jacket.
When we were halfway to Ivan's van, Alfred coughed violently, wracking his whole body. A spray of blood flew from his lips, spattering across Ivan's coat. I suddenly felt sick. "Arthur!" Alfred sobbed, blood dripping from his mouth. "Arthur!"
"I'm right here," I said encouragingly. I slipped my hand in his, hoping to take it off Ivan's arm, which was probably bruised. My own tears threatened to fall. Alfred's state was breaking my heart. Never had I seen him in so much pain.
Once we reached Ivan's vehicle, I hurriedly opened the door so he could lay Alfred across the back. I jumped in the backseat to sit with Alfred and Ivan got in front to drive to the hospital. Before I could close the door, Matthew (who I hadn't seen coming) came rushing into the van.
"He's my brother. I'm not leaving him alone," he said simply, sitting on the other side of Alfred. His eyes were swollen and red, as if he were about to cry but was keeping himself from doing so.
Alfred was gripping right where his stomach was, his face contorted in severe pain. Sweat mixed in with his tears as he sobbed and writhed. I was still holding his hand, not caring that several of my knuckles were cracking. When Alfred was younger, he was always getting hurt. He tripped over his own feet a lot, fell out of small trees, cut or burned himself when he tried to cook all by himself. He would cry, like most children do. Nothing he did could compare to this, however.
Ivan sped out of the parking lot at a speed I was sure was illegal. I just hoped no one would pull us over. Matthew brushed Alfred's bangs out of his face and wiped away his sweat with his sleeve. I pulled out my handkerchief and dabbed around his mouth, where a small amount of blood continued to trickle down over his cheeks onto the leather seats.
"Alfred, you stay awake now!" Matthew shouted at him. Alfred's eyelids were relaxing bit by bit and his shaking was reduced to a mere quivering. His screams that filled the car quieted back to moans, as if he were passing out from the pain. Or worse.
He was dying.
"Ivan, please hurry!" I pleaded hysterically. I patted Alfred's face roughly to keep him awake. Stay awake, Alfred, I thought. Don't go to sleep.
It seemed like years passed by the time we got to the hospital. Alfred was no longer gripping my hand. It hung limply from his wrist. His eyelids fluttered as if he were struggling to stay conscience.
"Arthur " he mumbled. He tried to say something else, but another violent coughing fit overtook his body. More blood sprayed from his lips. Alfred whimpered in pain.
"Hush. Don't talk. You'll be alright," I whispered, my lips close to his forehead. Matthew could see how much it hurt me to see this, so he grabbed my shoulder and rubbed it. I gave him a grateful but sad smile.
"Let's get him inside," Ivan commanded as soon as he stopped the car. He didn't even bother to turn off the engine. Matthew scrambled out of the car and made room to remove Alfred quickly but safely. The time it took to get him out of the van seemed to drag on and Alfred was getting weaker by the second. Everyone else who was at the meeting was just arriving in various cars.
All at once, we rushed through the doors into the main office with Alfred, once again, in Ivan's arms. Despite the dire situation, I felt a pang of envy that it was not I who was carrying him. The nurses' heads in the lobby swiveled to face us and they immediately ran to meet us. Someone was already fetching a gurney.
"What happened?" one woman asked as they took Alfred and gently laid him down on the gurney. She wiped away the blood on his face with her thumb. Three doctors came, grabbed the side of gurney, and sprinted for the emergency room. I ran with them, determined to stay with Alfred as long as possible.
Not soon enough, they reached the emergency room and wheeled Alfred, who was no longer moving, inside the ER. One doctor, a woman, stayed outside for a moment to talk to me.
"Can you tell me his name and what happened?" she asked, taking out a pad of paper. Her expression was one of seriousness. The pencil she was using was poised over her paper.
I shook my head. "His name is Alfred Jones. I'm not sure what happened," I answered. "One moment, he was smiling. The next he was pale and seemed like he'd seen a ghost. Then he was suddenly writhing in pain, holding his stomach." My voice broke on the last couple of words. What if Alfred didn't come back out of that room?
The doctor patted my shoulder comfortingly. "We'll do the most we can, alright?" Her words were not comforting in the least. "We'll call you as soon as we can. Please go sit in the lobby in the mean time."
I was in a haze on the walk back to the waiting area. I almost crashed into several people I was so out of it. When I actually did bump into someone, I looked up to find myself staring into Francis' face. His eyebrows were creased together with concern. I hadn't realized I'd made it back to the lobby.
"Mon ami, are you feeling alright?" he asked.
I hesitated in answering that question. Was I feeling alright? I couldn't be sure. Everything was suddenly so warped. After a moment, I answered, "No."
Hours passed. I had no watch, but it became dark while everyone was waiting. Not one nation had left the lobby since the time we burst through the front doors. Francis, Matthew, and Kiku all sat by me holding my hands, which were shaking. Matthew had been silently crying for a long time. Ludwig was keeping Feliciano calm; Yao and Ivan were whispering seriously among themselves. Kiku, for the first few minutes, tried to comfort me, saying Alfred was strong and would make it through. I was not as convinced as he was.
After what seemed like an eternity, the same doctor who I saw earlier, came walking in with a clipboard.
"Family and friends of Alfred Jones?" she said, calling to us.
I was the first one out of my seat and the first to be there in front of her. I was desperate for information. The waiting had put me on edge.
"How is he? What is wrong with him? Will he be okay?" I practically shouted. The burning sensation of tears returned. I don't know what I would do if Alfred was not going to be alright.
The doctor grimaced, seeming hesitant. "After taking a few tests, we discovered Alfred has a serious gastric ulcer. It got to the point where it began to bleed internally."
I froze, in a complete state of shock. "An ulcer?" I manage to squeak out.
Matthew stepped in for me. "But those are caused by bacteria that thrive under an extreme amount of psychological stress! I have never seen him like that at all." He looked so confused, I almost felt sorry for him.
Ludwig came up from behind us all. "Enough with the useless inquiry! Is he alright?"
The room fell horribly silent as everyone waited for the doctor to answer. I prayed to God she would say yes. It seemed like everyone was holding their breath.
She answered Ludwig's question. "To be honest, his condition is very bad and he is not improving at all, even after the operation we gave him. He had an excess amount of helicobacter pylori in his stomach, causing the ulcer to rapidly become worse. The ulcer could most likely be fatal," she added the last part quietly.
No one spoke for several seconds upon hearing the horrible news. After a moment, Feliciano finally burst into tears while fresh ones washed over Matthew's face. Kiku's eyes were wide and horrified.
I didn't realize I was collapsing until I felt Francis' arms catch me. Dizziness struck me like lightning and I had the sudden urge to throw up. Alfred wasn't alright. The odds of him ever being alright were practically invisible. Ulcers were serious matters, but could usually be treated. We must have brought him here too late, I thought, filled with extreme guilt.
When I thought back to what Matthew said about ulcers, I could not begin to imagine what was troubling Alfred so much. He was always so happy-go-lucky. Why did he keep everything to himself? Everyone here was willing to help and be there for him.
Alfred, what is bothering you so much?
The first week after the operation was horrible. Alfred's condition did not improve, but also did not worsen. During visiting hours, I could only look through the window into the room, for he was still recovering from the surgery. Each time, tears rolled down my face as I watched Alfred lay in the hospital bed, completely unconscious. An IV drip was stuck in the crease of his elbow and fed antibiotics into his blood stream. A respirator was kept over his face to supply oxygen to his system and the doctors had to keep an eye on his heart rate. They said he could contract iron deficiency anemia from the blood loss. All the equipment he was hooked up to scared me to death. It made the possibility of him dying all the more real.
I was agonizing over the fact that I never told him my feelings about him. Now, I may never get the chance. At any second, he could pass away and there was nothing I could do. Every day I came to see him, usually with Matthew by my side. Two or three days of the week, though, I was there by myself. Francis, Kiku, and the others occasionally visited with me, checking in on Alfred and never hearing anything new.
By the second week, Alfred began improving. I was so happy, I started to cry. It seemed everyone was doing that a lot lately. The staff finally let me into his room and I would sit by his side for hours. Though the respirator was gone, it would be a while yet before he would wake up though.
During the third week, sometime, I was sitting in a chair next to Alfred, reading a book I brought along. I held his hand, which was surprisingly warm, as if he was perfectly healthy. Each day, I hoped he would wake up and smile at me, like he always would.
I felt his hand twitch in mine and my head shot up. I almost shrieked with happiness when I saw that his eyes were open, lazily staring at the ceiling.
"Alfred, you're awake!" I shouted. Resisting the urge to tackle him, I grasped his hand, really feeling the warmness now. I saw the bags under his eyes and I noticed how tired he looked. However, what worried me is his quietness and refusal to look at me. "Alfred?" I asked cautiously. Had he somehow lost the ability to speak?
I sat back down in my chair, coming to the conclusion he wasn't ready to talk. Right as I was about to open my book again, Alfred suddenly spoke up.
"Why am I so unlovable?"
The question startled me and I stared at Alfred, baffled. It was the expression on his face that made me drop my book, however. It was nothing close to a smile at all. He looked exhausted, defeated, miserable, pained. Broken. Was this really Alfred?
"Alfred, what are you talking about?" I inquired. His look was frightening me.
Instead of repeating the question, Alfred just stared at me, demanding an answer to a question I didn't understand. His eyes were flooded with emotion, so much I almost couldn't stand it. This question was genuine, I realized. He was really asking why he was so unlovable.
He slowly turned his face back towards the ceiling. "I know what everyone says about me," he claimed. "They say I'm stupid, annoying, naïve, lazy," he took a huge, shaky breath before saying the last word. "Useless.
"You left me alone, Arthur. When I thought you loved me, you disappeared. No matter how hard I tried to win your approval again, you ignored me." Alfred could not hide the quiver in his voice. I still had not reached down to grab my book, for I was completely frozen, helplessly staring at Alfred. This was something I never expected to hear, especially from Alfred. I thought he had recovered from the Revolution long ago.
"I wanted to become really strong to capture your attention, Arthur. I wanted you to love me again. I wanted others to like me, too. But for some reason, no one wanted anything to do with me." Alfred covered his face in his hands. "I am so lonely, Arthur. So lonely "
The poor nation broke down, sobbing, but not like he did a few weeks ago. This was filled with a different kind of pain, the kind that could only be inflicted by people. Alfred was telling the truth. He honestly thought no one loved him. But how can I blame him, I thought to myself? I never took the time to realize that maybe Alfred's boisterous personality was all a façade, to hide what he was really feeling; that maybe others did look at him with distain at times, even if unconsciously; that maybe Alfred was easily affected by other people.
On instinct, I leaned over Alfred and gathered him into my arms, like the old days. His body trembled with sobs as I hugged him close to me. "Hush, Alfred. No one hates you. I don't know where you got those ideas, but they're not true," I whispered comfortingly.
However, Alfred had different ideas. He shoved me away harshly, the sadness in his eyes replaced with utter fury. "Shut up!" he screeched. I stumbled backwards, tripping over my book and hitting the ground with a thump! "You don't understand! You will never understand!" His face was twisted into a look of pure anger and misery. Tears left streaks down his cheeks. His hands balled up into fists.
I stared wide-eyed at Alfred. He had been bottling these emotions up for over 200 years. Just now, they were all coming out, like water bursting from a huge dam and he was taking them out on me. Anger rose up in me as well. I refused to be treated like that.
Before I could stop myself, I shouted, "I love you, you bloody git!" I felt the familiar prick of tears burning the backs of my eyes. "I have always loved you," I said more quietly, the tears beginning to ooze out once more. I hurriedly wiped them away, furious for letting them fall in front to Alfred. I looked up at him from the floor to see most of the anger in Alfred's face had vanished.
"Why do you think I came to visit you every day since you checked in? Why do you think I was holding your hand when you woke up? Why do you think I'm telling you this?"My voice steadily rose with each question I threw at him. It felt as if I've been holding back my own feelings for 200 years.
A chain of emotions flooded Alfred's eyes, the most prominent being confusion, doubt, and just a speck of hope. He wanted to believe me, I could see that much, but he was not allowing himself to. He trusted no one and it had been like that for so long.
"It has been so torturous for me to sit next to you during meetings, all the while thinking you hated everything about me. You were the one who pushed me away, after all. I could not forgive myself for losing you, hurting you." I took a deep breath before going on. "I had to avoid you to control myself; otherwise I thought I would break down in front of you."
I stood up (ignoring my throbbing tailbone) and slowly approached Alfred, as if he might explode with any sudden movements. Once I was close enough to the bed, I sat down in front of him so our faces were mere inches apart.
"I never imagined in the whole time I've known you that you were feeling so lonely. All the time, you are just so happy, cheerful, and dramatic. I am so sorry for leaving you, Alfred." I wrapped my arms around him, gently laying his head on my shoulder. He was extremely stiff in my arms, not used to the display of affection. It broke my heart that no one had offered him a simple hug before.
I felt him shaking in my arms again, my shoulder growing wet. He was crying again and I hoped it was not out of sadness this time. We rocked back and forth for several minutes, while I whispered words of comfort to him. After a moment, I felt him squeeze my torso back, getting accustomed to the hug.
All too soon, he pulled away from me. His stunningly blue eyes found their way to mine, filled with doubt again.
"But how can I know if ," he began, struggling to get the words out. "You can't possibly " He rubbed his hands over his face, obviously frustrated with himself. "You love me like a little brother, but that's not how I feel about you," he finally said, a blush creeping up his neck and face. He searched my face for an answer.
At first I was shocked. I clearly had not explained my feelings for him well enough. Then it struck me that he loved me. Not in a brotherly way, but in the way I felt about him. I felt the heat start to burn my cheeks and my ears grew hot. I gawked at him for a moment.
Alfred turned away. I must have embarrassed him for not answering right away. No words were coming to mind, though. Deeds are more powerful than words, I suddenly thought. If I could not tell him with words, I would tell him with actions.
Before I could change my mind, I took his face in my hands and leaned in, closing my eyes, readying myself for what I was about to do.
Alfred flinched when my lips crashed into his. I noticed how chapped they were, but I did not care. I forced everything I could not say into that kiss: love, apology, comfort, passion. When Alfred shied away, I grabbed his shoulders and pulled him closer again, wanting desperately for him to respond.
I felt a hand run through my ruffled hair, sending a shiver down my back. Opening my eyes slightly, I found Alfred had closed his and was trying to see how he could counter. His hand slid down the side of my face, tracing the line of my jaw. When I closed my lids once more, I realized his lips were starting to taste salty and saw that Alfred was crying again, but with pure bliss. He wrapped his free arm around my waist, pulling me closer. He leaned back onto his bed, so that I was lying on top of him.
We broke away to catch our breath, gazing at each other. Alfred's eyes were glazed over with desire, tears and happiness. I wanted to cry, too, seeing this new emotion blossoming within him.
"Arthur " he whispered my name hoarsely, twiddling with the flyaway strands of my hair. I laid my head on his chest, which was still heaving a little from our kiss. I drew little circles with my fingers on his shoulder. "Arthur, I missed you so much," he said into my hair with a somewhat shaky voice.
Instead of replying, I reached up and gently brushed my lips against his again, just a quick peck. For a long time, we laid like that, Alfred holding onto my waist and I on top of him, holding his shoulders. And like that, Alfred fell asleep peacefully. I tenderly rubbed away the tear stains on his cheeks, smiling at his serene face; feeling the smooth, steady rhythm of his chest rising and falling.
I thought of everything Alfred confessed to me. The poor boy felt like he had no one to trust, no one to love. Now, it was all over and he could finally be at peace. I closed my eyes, ready to follow Alfred into the land of sleep.
Right before I lost consciousness, I felt my own tears falling once again, happy that everything was finally figured out.