You wake up with blood on your side; a cross is in your hand, and a gun on your shoulder. You are in a forest where the smell of gunpowder is fresh in the air.
You wake up to your mother yelling at you to do something with your life. You know what she wants. It doesn’t matter that it’s your birthday, it matters that you are old enough to enlist.
You get up, everything is a blur. You’re dizzy, you stumble, and your wound opens. You head to the clearing nearby.
You take the bus to the enlistment center. It was this or to listen to your mother’s complaints even more, talking about how you are such a shame for the family for wanting to be an artist, not a hero. You know it was going to end up like this; you were going to get drafted sooner or later. You go to get away from your mother, you go away for your grandfather who died for this country, for your father who went missing in action.
You see the endless amount of blood go down your uniform as fallen soldiers surround your feet, no, fallen fighters and protectors. You say a silent prayer as you pass each of them by, clutching your cross a little tighter.
You line up with all the other men. “How old are you? Where are you from? Do you have flat feet? What is your medical history? Do you have any addictions? Stand straight. Take your shirt off. Cough. Pee in this cup. It’s great to see you have joined the Army. Prepare for boot camp, you begin next week.” You get your uniform and go to the bar.
You stumble into the clearing and get hit by the smell of blood under the gun powder. Everyone around you is dead. Solders from both sides are mixed together, rotting away with nothing more than pure pain in their eyes; pain from leaving their mothers, fathers, sisters, brother, wives, and the now their fatherless children.
You know it won’t be long till you go off to the front lines. ‘Kick those knees up higher! Run 20 more laps! Didn’t I tell you to stay in line?!’ The barking never stops, from sunrise to sunset. It is to prepare you, it is to make you obedient, and it was to make you their dogs. Your opinions, your thoughts, what made you human are taken away. You jump when they say they want to see jumping, you run when they say they want to see running. You live to fight and fight to live, for what more is there to the life of battle?
Was it worth it? So many lives gone; for what? Freedom? Rights? Why are you even here? There are no threats of harm to you or your country. Why is your country so nosey? To prove its strength, because how could so much death could be considered righteous? What is the truth? The politicians telling us we are doomed or the generals saying we are so close to winning. Winning what? Winning to be right? Because winning definitely doesn’t make you right. Put a gun to anyone’s head and they will tell you: you are right too. You just don’t know what is true.
You are on the front line like how your mother always wanted you to be. Lucky for you, you are part of the army. Your quadrant gets ready for an ambush. Over the hillside and through the thick forest you are to sneak up on another group of men to take them out. It’s everyone’s first battle but it may also be their last. You are barked into formation to start heading over the hill. No going back, you try to be ready for anything, so you clench the one item you brought with you; a cross. Now your group is ambushed.
A man bleeding and struggling on the ground grabs your ankle, and asks you “Why?” You do not know why, you only know what to do. “Why?” he repeats. Why did you have to destroy their home? Why did you have to kill his family? Why was any of this fight necessary? Why couldn’t you just leave them alone? You see the man is about to die, so you grab his hand and give him your cross, the only way you know how to say sorry. A tear leaves the poor man’s eye and with his final breath wasted on you, he says “Please, go away.”
Inspired by Rob Scholte’s art piece After Us the Flood
Deviant Art, Apr 18, 2013, 7:41:41 PM
Sunflowers-And-Fur Nov 4, 2015
This was very interesting to read:
“The politicians telling us we are doomed or the generals saying we are so close to winning. Winning what? Winning to be right? Because winning definitely doesn’t make you right. Put a gun to anyone’s head and they will tell you you are right too. You just don’t know what is true.”
Well said, I love the way you did this prose piece.
Itotie Nov 11, 2015 Hobbyist Writer
Thank you very much! This piece means a lot to me so I am very grateful to hear that :)
Thank you :)