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A Ruined Country


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A heavy fog hung in the chilled air. I kneeled in the long blades of grass sprinkled with dew. My clothes plastered to my aching body. The dark sky, only illuminated by the shining moon, stretched out over the trees. Distant gunfire sharpened my senses. My grasp tightened on my gun, comforting me like a small child clinging to his mother. Supplies are low, and I was one of the few who received a firearm. I deliberately eased myself up, knowing I wasn’t being any help to my country, despite it being in ruins.



I moved silently, a knife cutting water. My muscles ached, yet my body was filled with adrenaline. Screams of agony filled the battlefield around me. Shots rang out, a steady melody to my thumping heart. I settled down, back against a tree. Waiting. Sleep tugged at me, tempting me with the promise of escape from this foreign world. Eventually, I gave in. Sleep had me in its grasp.



Dreams flooded me. I imagined I was home. My wife greeted me with a warm embrace, and my young daughter, Ellie, laughed as I picked her up. Home. I retired to the living room and picked up a magazine announcing the end of the war. Ellie’s beaming face appeared again and I laughed as she gave me a hug. Suddenly, I was torn from them. My eyes opened and sleep left me. The sight of the early morning battlefield greeted me. Amongst the death and disaster of the war, an array of beautifully painted colors managed to light up the sky.



Anger flooded me. The war I was a part of had torn me from my life. My family. My sanity. My country -though in pieces- had forced me to defend the little that was left of it.



Warmth and sunlight came as late morning unfolded and the shooting ceased. I left my place of rest and started towards camp. Having known camp was a few miles away, I took my time tending to the wounded soldiers. Among them I knew few, but the look of pain plastered every face. The aftermath of the late-night attack had taken a toll. Many were injured; a few had been killed.

Near camp, I came upon a mangled figure. I sank to my knees. I knew this man. Pete, I whispered, Pete. Come on buddy. I turned him over. His color-drained face stared up at the blue sky. I looked him over, searching for a sign of a death-inflicting wound. I quickly spotted a bullet hole, relatively small, through his torso. Dark red blood stained his uniform. Pete, a loving family man, would never come home. I wept briefly and said a terse goodbye to this man in whom I called friend.

Upon arriving to camp, I entered my small tent and threw my gun down in disgust. This war was a joke. Men were dying. My country, halfway around the world, was in chaos. Government overthrown. What were we fighting for? I missed my family. Friends. Life. I gingerly retrieved my firearm, embarrassed by my bout of frustration. Suddenly, shots erupted from outside. Acting on impulse, I rushed outside.

What greeted me outside was a full blown battle. Fires started to flourish; eating away at the grass and trees, pouring smoke everywhere. Shots rang out all around me. I shouldered my weapon, jerking everywhere, and finally settled on a man. His face, bearing foreign features, looked confused, lost. Without thinking, I shot. The man collapsed. Dead.

Guilt washed over me. It flooded my being. This war had transformed me into something I am not. A killer.

The camp was in pieces. Bodies lay everywhere. Fires burned. All of a sudden, I felt a searing pain shoot up from my stomach. The feeling of warm blood became known to me. I fell to my knees in shock. Pain -more than I had ever known- became apparent. A thought crossed my mind, I am going to die. I curled up in the long grass, holding myself. Blood poured from my wound; my life draining. Death was within reach.

***



Warm sunshine flooded through the windows of the small house on Park Street. A woman sat, intently reading a novel, in the in the warm sun’s radiance. Her young child played with dolls upon the floor. A soft knock echoed through the house. The woman rose, striding to the front door. She opened it. A man, handsomely dressed in uniform, greeted her. He offered her a letter. Shortly after, he bid her goodbye and shut the door. She strolled back to the living room.



Not thinking much of the letter, she sat and opened it. Tears immediately filled her eyes. She read: “Dear Miss, we are truly sorry to inform you of the death of your husband. His body should be transported home within the week. Again, we are sorry for your loss.” She was in shock. Tears streamed down her face; she began to cry uncontrollably. Her young daughter, Ellie, was clueless. Ellie tried to comfort her sobbing mother, but with no avail. The war had torn them from a loved father and husband. Though the war ended soon after, the scars and pain the war had left could never be mended.



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