I didn't sleep well, and each time I opened my eyes I could see Lora still sitting by the fire. I wondered what kept her awake. I wondered what had brought her back here in the first place.
I could guess part of the story, of course. It had happened to all of us. I can still remember how happy we were when we realised that the war was finally over. We would all go home where our friends and families would be waiting, and soon the war would be nothing but a bad dream. So, one by one we left for home. All that any of us had ever found was ashes, half-buried bones and the stench of rotting flesh. I suppose it was a small miracle that any of us ever slept.
Lora was looking at me. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine. Too tired to sleep, I guess. And you?"
I moved over. "You want to get in here with me? There's plenty of room."
"Sure." She stripped off her clothes and got under the cover. She was as beautiful as ever. I took her hand and pressed her fingers to my lips. She smiled and I smiled back. "Imagine seeing you here", I said.
"Do you want to tell me why you came back?"
She stroked my hair and kissed me on the lips. "You talk too much", she said.
I laughed. "I guess that's true. I've been on my own a lot lately, and it's good to have someone to talk to." I traced the curve of her lower lip with my finger and kissed her. She took my hand to examine the bruises and chafing marks that the restraints in the interrogation room had left. "What are those?"
Now it was my turn to evade the question. "Long story", I said.
She didn't respond and we just lay there, my hand in hers. After a while I felt the grip of her fingers relax and I lifted my head to look at her. She had finally fallen asleep. I closed my eyes and tried to drift off. Something was bothering me, and I didn't know what it was.
When I woke up again the sky outside the cave's mouth was still black. Lora was on her belly, fast asleep. Careful not to wake her I slid out from under the fur and got up. The fire was still burning brightly, and the cave felt like a warm, comfortable womb. I heard Lora stir behind me, and I turned to look at her. Her eyes were open and she was watching me.
"Hey", I said. She didn't reply.
I sat down by the fire and looked into the flames, and suddenly the fog lifted and I knew what had been bothering me all that time.
"Would you mind telling me where the real Lora is?"
I kept my eyes on the flames that had been burning brightly all night without eating into the wood at all. This isn't real, I told myself. None of this is real. Stay awake. I resisted my urge to look at her. I knew she had heard me. Or he, or it.
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