Farrier was in his cell when the guards passed by, latest prisoner in hand. He was tall, lanky, and dressed in the remains of a very nice suit. A confused, somewhat terrified expression lined the man’s face.
At the end of the hall, he turned around and saw Farrier. Though they didn’t know each other, their eyes locked for a moment. Then one of the guards shouted something and they were off again.
They officially met that afternoon in the yard. Well, kind of. Farrier spotted him, leaning against the wall in prison garb, and slowly made his way over. The man didn’t so much as glance in his direction.
“What’s your name?” No response, which Farrier couldn’t fault him for. Staying generic in prison meant the difference between survival and death. “I’m Farrier.” The man nodded politely but kept his eyes on the guard tower. Taking the hint, he started to turn away.
“Neil.” Nothing else came out, which was fine for the both of them.
Farrier didn’t think it was possible, but Neil seemed more generic than him. He didn’t speak to anybody and ate his food in comfortable silence. The whole thing was quite strange.
He also seemed like an observant fellow. More than once, Farrier caught Neil glancing around. Even in the middle of hard labor, with guards patrolling the work lines, he still got a chance to look.
A month later, one of the newer guards was found dead in the hallway. As everyone got shoved back into their cells, Farrier saw Neil slide a toothbrush down the hall. No one else noticed.
After that, cell placements were changed around. Suddenly, they found themselves roommates and uneasy allies.
“Who is he?” A portrait of Collins in hand, Farrier looked up. Neil stood at the foot of the cot, one shoulder against the wall. His face wore a tired, intrigued smile.
“Oh…” Farrier wasn’t sure how to answer. Neil pushed himself off the wall and stepped closer until it was almost awkward. The smile on his face turned mischievous.
“You can tell me if he’s your boyfriend. I won’t judge.” Redness filled Farrier’s cheeks as he glanced back down at the picture.
“Things never got close.” Neil nodded, plopping himself down on the edge of the mattress.
“I know the feeling.” His eyes glossed over for a fraction of a second. “And no matter what I do… things will never change.”
They fell asleep in awkward silence, clutching to memories of unknowing loves.
When the walls came down and the soldiers burst in, Farrier lost Neil amongst the chaos. He stumbled through the yard, searching.
Just as he saw him, someone else approached. It was an African-American man in United States gear. Neil gave a relieved shout and tumbled into his arms as another cell block exploded nearby.
When Farrier blinked, they were running toward the fence, deeper into German territory. Before he could shout, there was another boom.
Two months later, he finally got a chance to look. Farrier read over every page twice, searching for records of a Brit named Neil. He came up empty.
“Farri, your tea is getting cold!”
“In a minute!” A seemingly ridiculous (but actually correct) idea was swirling. Scooping up a pen, Farrier scribbled a note into the margins. He then closed the folder, grabbed his crutches, and went to join Collins in the living room.
You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.