We all need reasons, don't we?

There's always a reason for everything.

There has to be.

Otherwise, how could our fragile human minds understand?

It was a cold night, colder than usual. The stars were especially clear that night, set against a solid black backdrop. The land was covered by a thin blanket of white. The air hung heavy with expectancy, as though all of nature was holding its breath -- an audience holding its breath before the single, crucial scene in a play is enacted. If she had seen the signs, she purposely ignored them. If she had anticipated it, she refused to acknowledge it.

They had been dating for two years. Their relationship had had its ups and downs, but it was still going strong. He had taken her out on a date earlier that evening to celebrate their anniversary. Everything was perfect. They had been on their way to the movie theatre when he suddenly suggested that they go on a moonlight walk instead. She was surprised, but hadn't refused. A moonlight walk seemed much more romantic, and she didn't mind getting a breath of fresh air.

She attempted to make a joke, but botched it. He laughed nevertheless, amusement shining in his chestnut brown eyes. They stopped at the corner of the road and she ordered a hot chocolate, sipping from it as they continued on their way. They eventually stopped at the top of a hill. The stars were clearly visible from the vantage point, twinkling and shining in the depths of the darkness that surrounded them. They gazed up at the stars silently. Little did she know that her world was about to turn upside down.

He suddenly turned to look at her, worry and sadness evident in his expression.

"What's wrong?" she asked, dreading his response.

He took a deep breath, then slowly released him. "I.....I got drafted into the military," he finally confessed, gazing at her with the expression of a lost puppy. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

She laughed halfheartedly, assuming that it was a joke. It had to be a joke. She refused to accept it, could not accept it.

"I'm serious," he continued, staring at her intently. His forehead was creased slightly.

She drew in a sharp breath. "When?"

"I received the letter several weeks ago."

"And you didn't tell me until now?"

"I tried, but I couldn't bear to let you know. I couldn't bear to see you hurt."

"Well, it's a bit late for that," she replied bitterly.

"I know," he sighed. "I'm sorry. I really am. I didn't want this. Believe me, I didn't. I would give anything in the world to switch places with someone else. But I can't."

She felt as though she had been punched in the chest, suddenly finding herself unable to breathe. She knew that she wouldn't be able to speak without crying. So she didn't. She simply sat, with her head on his shoulder, and stared up at the stars.

She sat there, in the same spot, two years later. He was dead, killed in combat. He had gone down trying to save his comrade. It was valiant of him, yet so incredibly selfish to leave her -- to leave everyone, his family, his friends -- behind. So she sat there, unable to turn back time, unable to intervene in the course of fate. She could no longer weep. Her tears had dried up until there were none left.

"Twenty reasons. Give me twenty reasons why," she whispered silently to the stars.

The stars stared unblinkingly back.

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