The ground shakes as the second bomb hits the ground. Barry presses his head against the dirt wall behind him as he breathes heavily. His hand steers towards his chest and he pulls out a crumpled, old picture of a young woman with one kid on each side. The memories are still as new, even though it's now 8 months ago it was taken. They were in the park, in that park with two swings that were a bit rusty but still managed to hold two kids, and the benches that desperately needed repainting but still brought a certain charm to the park. And don't forget the trail beneath the trees, where you had to jump over logs and wriggle between the bushes that covered the area. It was like it had happened yesterday, and every time Barry thought about it a smile came to his face and...
The third bomb brings him back to reality. The park has now been replaced with trenches and dead bodies, and the sound of birdsong deafened by the sound of bombs and gunfire. The harsh reality of war. Barry turns his head to the right and can just barely make out General Belper's command of returning fire. He nods and stands up, just enough to get a good sight of the enemy and fires off. The troop runs on to the battlefield, weapons in their hands and courage in their heart. Barry watches soldiers from both sides drop as bullets pierce their skin and that same braveness fizzle out of their body and form dark-red pools, scattered across the field. So much bravery, and for what? Barry flinches as a pain shoots through his leg and he realizes that he's been hit. He stumbles to the ground, his pulse deafening the shouts of his friends as they retreat back to their trench. Someone, he doesn't see who, stops and looks down at his face.
"THIS ONE ISN'T DEAD, HE'S ONLY INJURED!"
Barry leans his head against the window on the train and watches the trees fly past outside. His hand is touching his lips and trembles slightly as he takes a deep breath. A single tear escapes the corner of his eye, and he can't decide whether it is a tear of joy or sadness. All of a sudden the speakers crackle to life and Barry can barely make out a voice announcing "Next stop: Redgrove. Redgrove*. He turns to the social worker at the opposite side of the aisle. "This is my stop", he says with a big smile. The social worker nods and helps him out of the train carriage out to the platform. "Do you have anyone to pick you up, sir?" the social worker asks. Barry shakes his head. "Nah, I thought I'd surprise the wife and the kids." The social worker glances at his watch. "Well, I have time to help you get to the house, unless you want to manage yourself?" Barry chuckles and points to where his legs used to be. "Believe it or not, these two things are pretty essential when managing yourself." His eyes turn sad as he continues: "I guess I haven't gotten used to them not being there". The social worker firmly grabs the handles of the wheelchair. "Don't you worry, sir, it's no problem for me to help you all the way to your house."
As the social worker pushes Barry out onto the street, Barry looks around with a frightened look. Chestnut Street, once filled with beautiful white houses and small shops and crawling with people, was now filled with buildings that were half-torn down, littered with chunks of pavement and concrete and the few lonely souls there look tired and scared. A woman walks past Barry and the social worker. "What happened here?" Barry asks her aghast. Her face is dirty and her eyes are puffy. "The bombs...they came out of nowhere." She quickly looks down at his wheelchair and clasps her hand over her mouth. "I-I-I have to go", she says before hurrying down the street. Barry sits there staring into the distance.
Without looking up, he points in one direction and breathlessly says "Take me to my house. Now". The social worker, panic-struck by what had just been said, rapidly nods his head and starts pushing Barry in the direction of his finger. When they reach the end of the street, Barry sees his neighbour standing outside of what is left of his house. "WHERE ARE THEY?" he yells as the tears start streaming down his face. "WHERE ARE THEY?" The woman turns around to Barry in shock, and Barry sees that she has been crying too. "I'm sorry..." the woman starts to whisper. "No." Barry stares at her in disbelief. "Barry, they didn't get out in time. I'm so sorry." Barry lets out a scream and desperately tries to get out of the wheelchair before falling to the ground. The social worker looks with a horrified face at the remains of the house and then rushes over to Barry. Together with the woman, they get Barry back into the wheelchair where he rocks back and forth, sobbing loudly while whispering "No, no, no. It can't be true."
A month has passed since Barry came home. He lives in an apartment for people with disabilities now. His social worker comes to check on him once a week. Unfortunately, that's not enough. If you would go into Barry's department today, you will see that the dishes are piling up in the sink. A vase has been smashes in one of the corners. On the drawer beside the door is a letter, a letter that won't be read until the next visit from the social worker. A beautiful note, "The pain was only growing stronger. This was the painless way out. I was going to lose the game of life anyways." that would bring you to tears and difficulty breathing. And if you continued in to the apartment, you would find him there. Peacefully resting in his bed, a brave man that is now finally united with his wife and kids again in a place where they can go back to the park if they wish to do so.