Albert Edwards thought of her as he put on his new uniform.
I wonder what she’d think of me in this uniform, what she’d feel, he thought.
He also wondered if he’d happen to see her brothers, Evan and Mitchell. Would he be able to do his duty if that time came, or would he, in his love for her, pause long enough for the enemy to strike him?
Albert sighed, forced himself to put all thoughts of Elsa aside, and put on his service cap, completing his new military uniform.
Albert had been in love with Elsa Price from the moment he laid eyes on her in the library at their university. He had pushed aside his shyness and struck up a conversation with her, one which had lasted until very late in the evening. They quickly became an item, and Albert felt sure he was going to marry her.
As fate would have it, though, his emigrated country decided to go to war with his native country, where Albert’s family still resided.
Elsa’s family, being the Patriots that they were, were all for the war. In fact, Evan and Mitchell were two of the first volunteers to sign up to fight. Although they tried to hide it for Elsa’s sake, Albert could feel her family’s barely concealed contempt for him. They constantly made passing remarks to Elsa, trying to sow seeds of doubt in her mind so that she would end their relationship.
Elsa, on the other hand, remained impartial. As much as Albert tried to persuade her to see how wrong the war was, she refused to choose a side. Her indifference was almost worse than her family’s outright hate for his home country and, by extension, himself.
Oh, but Albert loved her so! He tried hard to make it work but, in the end, he could not manage it. He had to drop out of school and sell his car, his home and all his possessions just to be able to send money and supplies back to his struggling, frightened family. Elsa’s passivity during his obvious struggle finally drove a wedge that could not be ignored between them. As much as he loved her, he had to stand up for what he believed in!
A year had passed and Albert still yearned for Elsa as much as ever. Besides for working hard to earn enough to send to his family, to keep his mind off of her and to try to make a positive difference, he busied himself rallying up supporters against the war. But, as bravely as his country was fighting, they were barely hanging on. They needed more people to fight, and Albert realized all his efforts were no longer enough. He decided he would go back to his native land and join the military to fight for his country firsthand.
Mere weeks after deploying, Albert’s convoy was hit hard. He was among one of the few survivors, but they had all become separated when they ran to escape in different directions. Now he was alone and completely lost.
Elsa, having heard tell of Albert’s decision to join the war, kept an eye out as best she could for lists of wounded or killed soldiers in Albert’s country. She too had never stopped loving Albert.
When she saw Albert’s name on the Missing in Action list, that’s when she really knew she had been a fool all along. She should have chosen a side, Albert’s side. Not just because she loved him but because, deep in her heart, she knew Albert had been right: this war was unjust! She had been too afraid to choose a side and go against either her family or her greatest love, however, and look what it had cost her!
No more! she thought vehemently.
From that moment on, Elsa did whatever she could to help find Albert and to put an end to the crazy war.
Following Albert’s lead, Elsa joined as many groups that protested and fought against the war as she could. She persuaded her friends and peers to do the same.
She listened in to the phone conversations between her brothers and their parents, conversations where they revealed more information than they should have in their shared overzealousness for the war. She found ways to pass this information on to the other side, despite her guilt at betraying her family.
Due to her latent guilt, Elsa had changed her career path in college to that in politics. Now she thanked the Heavens for intervening in her life. She was more grateful for that change than ever because it got her on the inside where she could do more good.
Elsa used what little power she had earned and the contacts she had amassed from her career to light the fire under some butts to make finding Albert and the other survivors a priority.
Six long months later, Albert was finally located. His body was found next to a message he had etched into the dirt with a stick. Some words were blurred by the wind, but the message was clear enough.
The first part of the message was an Albert Einstein quote: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Beneath that, he had written, “I’ll love you eternally, Elsa.”
Elsa was distraught at the news of Albert’s passing, but it made her all the more determined to fight for what he, and now she, strongly believed in. She could not turn the clock back and make things right that way, but she would make sure to bring some peace to Albert’s soul.
Elsa shared Albert’s and her story with the media. She gave them the photos of him, his body next to his important message for all to see.
The whole world was touched by these images, by all that had been sacrificed by Albert. Their hearts collectively broke, for Elsa and for all the families out there who had similar stories. Between the world-wide outcry and the exhausted military on both sides, the war was finally ended.
Donations came from all around the world to help rebuild Albert’s native land. A statue of Albert and Elsa reaching for each other was erected in Elsa’s homeland. Their love story had become the face of the war.
“Oh, Albert. Our story, just like our love for each other, will now be forever immortalized. I hope you can now rest easy, my love, and I can’t wait to be with you again someday.”
Culled from blog.reedsy.com by Katie Eash.