"Living is a series of presents."

"Yes, I've heard that before," he replied. "It's not that I disagree, but I can't help worrying sometimes. It's not like I enjoy it."

"No, you probably don't. You do what you're used to doing."

"So you'll forgive me if I'm always talking about where I think the war is going." He looked out the window. The day was clear. Not a cloud in the sky. Not even the smoky remains of battle. It could've easily been mistaken for peacetime.

But it wasn't.

"It really does look like peace out there, doesn't it?" he said.

"Sometimes it rains, sometimes it doesn't. So follows the violence of man."

"Ha," he laughed, "you're going to be a poet in your next life now?"

"Maybe I would have in this one if I hadn't been caught up in all of this." She gestured as if including everything around her, and not at anything in particular.

"What would our lives have been like if we lived in different times. I wonder about that a lot," he said.

"You live with many regrets."

"I don't know if I would call them regrets. I wouldn't be here if I had the chance to change my past, but I'm not sure I would."

"Life hasn't gone the way you expected."

"No, I suppose it hasn't." He looked past the tents outside. "Can you believe I wanted to be a lawyer once? And here we are in the middle of a world where laws almost have no meaning."

"You wish you could return to simpler times," she suggested.

"Maybe I can still go into law one day, after this whole thing blows over. God willing."

"You spend a lot of time in both your past and future."

"I'm just trying to put my life in perspective I suppose. You don't?"

"We are here now," she replied. "Yesterday can't be changed. Tomorrow can only be chased and never caught."

"You don't worry about the enemy, Rain? You don't worry they could descend on us any second."

"They could, you're right. I'm not saying preparation isn't important. But what is life if we only spend it preparing?"

"A safe life, Rain. A safe one."

"Do you think you're really living then? If you spend your entire life looking for safety..."

"That can wait until after the war," he said. "In case you didn't notice, we could be killed at any moment."

"Isn't that more reason to live while you still can? Really live. Like the life you always wanted."

"I'm not giving up hope that tomorrow or next year would be better," he said. "If I can make that future more likely, I'm willing to sacrifice today."

She stared into the fire for a few minutes. Silent. "Seems we're having a bit of a war in the here and now. I should follow my own advice."

"Your own advice?"

"Fighting when we don't need to be fighting. Living today to enjoy it."

"Enjoying wartime?" He sighed.

"What if the war never ends?" she asked. "Or what if it does end, but we only see the next period as a different kind of war."

"You see life during peacetime as war?"

"I don't want to, but I might not be able to stop myself. There will always be problems to fix, food to gather."

"I can't see it. Peacetime problems are nothing compared to what we have now. I'd be able to kick back."

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"Of course I'm sure, it's just logical. The days would not be a matter of life and death."

"And are they now, Starr?" she asked. "I see no war now. I see no death. And yet it still occupies your mind."

"Don't be silly. You know full well this is just a lull. That they'll be back within days if we're lucky. Hours if we're not."

"And until then, what will you do about it?"

"There will always be preparations to be made. We can always increase our chances of victory."

"Meanwhile, you are no longer living," she said. "Not truly living."

"Don't be ridiculous. All that will have to wait. I've got my priorities on straight."

"Maybe you do," she relented. "I'll talk to you in a few hours."

She stepped out into the night air and breathed it in. It was cold. There was a hint of smoke from the nearby campfires, and the smell of cooked food.

She wandered among her soldiers. Some were frightened, holding their weapons as if they were afraid to let go. She tried to reassure them but could tell they weren't paying attention.

She could make out a few constellations in the sky. She remembered the teacher who taught her to recognize them. It was a different life then. She too had different plans for her own future, plans that no war would ever recognize.

Where was her teacher now? Would that world even return?

She walked out past the encampments and into the fields, where she could hear the crickets chirping. Crickets didn't concern themselves with the affairs of man, so she stood there listening to them.

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