Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write an antagonist as a mirror for your protagonist. I went through my list of projects and settled on Break on Me. There’s actually two protagonists, Gabriel(a veteran who lost part of his arm while he was in the Army), and Lora(whose brother served with Gabriel, and while not physically wounded, came back changed, too). This starts with a line from a previous scene, but the rest of this didn’t happen in what I actually wrote. And I should probably note, I don’t always feel the way my characters do. There is a brief mention of suicide in this.
“You’ve obviously never known a veteran,” the girl spit at Maia. “Or had to bury one.”
The words twisted through Maia, leaving bitterness behind. And the image of flag-draped caskets, two of them, flashed through her mind. And the fear she’d heard when Adalie hadn’t been able to take her husband’s volatile moods any longer. She hadn’t known what he’d do when her sister left him, but in the end he’d killed himself with whiskey. Good Riddance.
“You’re wrong about that,” she said even though the girl had started to walk away. “I’ve known too many.”
The girl –Maia didn’t even care to learn her name– turned back to her. “If that was the case, you’d be more understanding.”
“I understand a lot more than a bleeding heart little girl. I buried two who I loved very much.” One, her father, had been when she’d was only twelve years old. Her other had been devastated, and Maia’d had to help raise her younger siblings, one of who followed in their father’s footsteps, right into a grave of his own. “And I protected my sister from another who turned violent after his service. So, don’t tell me what I don’t understand.”
“I’m sorry for your losses,” the girl said. “But, did you ever even try to get your brother-in-law help? Or did you just write him off, like you seem to have every other veteran? My brother came back changed, too. He wasn’t violent, not to anyone but himself. I tried to help him, but it wasn’t enough. But, at least I tried.”
“He chose to go to war. Why should it have been my responsibility to help him? He got what he deserved, but it didn’t mean my sister should be caught in the middle of it.”
The girl mouthed the words got what he deserved then Maia saw all the color leak from her face. “Both he and my brother deserved better than attitudes like yours. Maybe my brother would still be around then.”
With that, she did turn and walk away. Maia watched her go, but refused to let the girl’s words get to her. She turned and saw Zach walking toward her. Well, this was a good distraction. And maybe she could convince him to finally give them a chance.