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Life is a battlefield

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He was standing in an open field. The air felt incredibly heavy, almost suffocating, the temperature was sky-high. His vision was blurry. He could hear loud cries all around him, but he couldn’t make out the words. His temples were pulsating and his heart was beating faster than ever. He could feel a stinging pain in his side. He put his hand there, trying to find out what’s causing it, and when he drew his hand back to examine it, he realised, with horror, that it was covered in fresh blood. His blood. Was he shot? Stabbed? He doesn’t remember. It’s not like it matters, it will be over soon, very soon.

The noises were getting louder and louder. The heat was unbearable. Suddenly, the whole world went black.

And then a voice. A pleasant voice, filled with warmth, but also with worry. “Hamilton? Can you hear me? Are you alright?”

He opened his eyes. There was a young man standing above him, staring at him with those big, blue eyes. Who is it? How does he know my name? And why does he look so familiar? There’s no point in asking those questions. It doesn’t matter anyway, it will soon be over. He smiled.

“My god, Hamilton! Look at you! We need to get you out of here, as soon as possible.” The stranger offered him his hand, to help him stand up. He squeezed it, tightly. And then everything collapsed, again.

***

A loud, distinctive knock on the door woke him up. It was followed by the unmistakable, annoyingly cheerful tone of voice, with a distinctive and all too familiar sarcastic undertone. Peggy Schuyler. “My God, Alex, where are you? You’re gonna be sooo late!”

“So are you,” was his muffled reply. Had he overslept again? Crap. That’s not good. That’s the third time this week. Peggy may be obnoxious, but she’s right. He’s got to get ready- quickly. There should be a comb in here… somewhere… actually, never mind. He had worse case of bed hair before, this actually looks passable.

“In my case, I think the professors are used to it by now,” replied Peggy, “they are happy that I show up at all. But you, young man, should get your ass out there. You know how old George’s like- he’s not exactly known for being the most chill professor on campus.

“Are you actually calling Mr. Washington ‘old George’?” laughed Hamilton, simultaneously trying to grab some clothes from his wardrobe- only to come to the bitter realisation that he has one last clean pair of jeans and an old, oversized hoodie with the university logo. He’s gonna look like absolute hell today, but hey, so are most of the other law students.

“So what? Look, I don’t have all day. Well, I do, actually, but you don’t. So, you know, hurry up.”

“Wait! I can’t find matching socks!”

“Jesus, Alex, you are completely useless in the morning, aren’t you?” she laughed. “Don’t worry, I grabbed you a cup of coffee on my way here.”

Margarita Schuyler. A saint. An actual life saver.

“Thanks Pegs. I owe you one.” Contact lenses? Where the hell… actually never mind that, it’s probably just glasses today. He could pretend it’s a fashion statement. He could definitely pull that off.

“Didn’t you say that last time?”

A white sock with black lining… a white sock with… dammit, that’s not the right one. How do other people manage to cope with things in the morning?

“I had that dream, again,” he declared, ignoring the last teasing remark.

“The one about the shark-tiger mutant chasing you through the streets of New York? Wow, Alex, that’s pretty wild.”

“No silly, the war one.”

He was finally able to get out of his room. As he opened the door of his dorm, Peggy immediately burst into laughter. Dammit, the Schuyler girls definitely knew how to damage one’s fragile ego.

“Oh come on, is it really that bad?”

“The sight of you is so heart-breaking it’s almost cute. I’d actually give you some many, but I only have this black espresso,” grinned she and handed him over the cup.

He sighed. It seemed Peggy would never stop teasing him- her jokes were almost borderline cruel sometimes- but despite that, Alexander considered her one of her best friends. Her sense of humour was surely very singular, and people who didn’t know her that well could easily mistake it for just plain rudeness, but Alex knew that the jokes were just her silly little way of coping with everyday problems, and that she actually had a heart of gold.

“I’m sorry, Alex. You know you could wear a potato sack, and still looked better than half of the people on campus.”

Wow, was that… a compliment? From Peggy Schuyler? What is this? It was such an unusual situation, that he had no idea how to respond. Fortunately, Peggy never stayed quiet for too long:

“You were saying something about a war dream? Have you been having nightmares again, Alex?” she sounded genuinely concerned.

“It’s not a nightmare per se, it’s just… intense. And confusing.” They’d left the dormitories, and were now walking through the park towards the main building. It was quite a long walk, given the fact that Alexander’s dorms were located in the very corner of the campus, but in the warm May weather, neither of them seemed to mind.

“Is it any specific war, do you think? Like, you know, second world war?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so. No, it’s older than that… I’m wearing a dark blue uniform, and I’m carrying a sort of dagger-like thing that is attached to my gun?”

“I believe bayonet is the word you’re looking for,” said a quiet but confident voice coming from somewhere behind him.

Alex turned around to determine the source of that voice and- of course- who else but the academic prodigy, Angelica Schuyler herself. Peggy’s older sister looked like she just walked out of a cover of a magazine, despite the fact that it was so early in the morning and she probably spend the whole night up studying. Alex did feel like a hot mess even before, but looking at Angelica’s neat Pinterest-like updo and well-ironed, spotless white blouse made him feel much, much worse. Angelica was never a show-off; she never rubbed her perfection into anyone’s face- that was just the way she was, and it was as natural for her as breathing. Despite that, she still drove a lot of people crazy, just by existing. Alex hated to admit hat, but he was probably one of them.

“Sush Angie, this is actually interesting,” protested Peggy. She was the only one who could say something like that to Angelica- for everyone else, she was untouchable, almost like a demi-goddess, a legend on the campus- but to Peggy, she was still just her know-it-all older sister.

“Is it the dream again?” “Yeah… I swear to god that must be the second of third time I’ve had this dream. I know it sounds stupid but… I feel like it’s somehow important?”

“Maybe it’s you relieving you past life. I heard that sometimes happens to people. So you were a soldier of some kind- isn’t that exciting?” exclaimed Peggy.

Angelica rolled her eyes. “I do have a copy of Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, if you would be interested. I could lend it to you.”

“Thank you, I’ll think about it. But I’m probably just going to learn that my parents were shit… and you know, that won’t be wrong.”

Angelica laughed- something she didn’t do very often, but when she did, it was definitely worth hearing it. “It’s not all about that. Well, it’s mostly just untranslatable German puns, but still, it’s an interesting read.”

“We got it, you’re clever,” Peggy snapped. “I’m sure you could analyse Alex on the spot, you know, get to the roots of his psyche- but what I’m really interested in is whether he had seen that blue-eyed hunk again, so please, leave all that scientific nonsense out of this conversation.”

“Freud actually wasn’t scientific at all…” Peggy’s famous murderous stare was so efficient that it worked even on Angelica. This was one of the reasons Alex loved her so much.

“What blue-eyed hunk?” she asked instead.

“I don’t know his name. He appears to have the same dark blue uniform as me. He’s also about the same age as me, give or take two years. I wasn’t able to examine him too much- you know, being in the middle of a battlefield and all- but Peggy’s right, he does look quite handsome. Bright blue eyes, well-defined cheekbones, all that jazz. Also, I’m pretty sure he’s got freckles. Anyway- there’s too much heat- don’t laugh, I don’t mean it like that- and I always fall down. I think I faint. He wakes me up again. He calls me by my surname, he says it almost affectionately- he definitely knows me in the dream, even though I don’t. Then he gives me his hand, to help me stand up. That’s when I usually wake up.

“That’s fricking adorable!” exclaimed Peggy. “Like, I totally ship you, guys.”

“It does sounds quite romantic,” smiled Angelica.

“It could get even more romantic if you haven’t woken me up,” Hamilton looked at the younger Schuyler sister, accusingly.

“Come on, that’s not fair, I saved your ass. Look, you’re only…” she looked at her watch in a dramatic gesture, “… fifteen minutes late.”

Alex cried out some kind of unidentifiable French swear word, stuck the coffee back into the hands of startled Peggy and sprinted across the lawn towards the main building.

It was one of those mornings.