The pilot paused at the edge of the wood, where already it was dark, oak-dark at midday. He propped himself against a tree, believing that in the shadows he was hidden, at least for the moment. The others had fled. He was the last out of the pasture, watching until they had all disappeared, one-by-one, indistinct brown shapes quickly enveloped by the forest.
All, that is, except for the two on the ground, one dead, one dying.
* * *
Claire knelt beside the airman. She took her scarf from her head, opened her coat. In the candlelight she could see the man's face for the first time. He looked oddly peaceful, as though he were merely sleeping. He was twenty-one or -two, she guessed. The light made shadows of the bones of his face, the shape of his mouth. There were cuts on his forehead and cheeks, and his mouth was badly swollen. Briefly, she ran the back of her fingers along the side of his cheek. As she sometimes had for the others, she wondered who might be dreaming of this man even then, which mother, which woman loved him, prayed for him, received his letters, counted the days until he might come home.
Elizabeth Bard's Lunch in Paris blog post today reminded me of this book and how much I enjoyed it--both times I read it.