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Falling This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , Bozeman, MT
Its terrifying, that feeling of falling. Wondering every second if something will catch you… if something even can catch you. Maybe the fall has been going so long you’ll just burn through anything trying to stop you. Scream louder than you ever have and maybe just maybe it will slow you down, that release will somehow be enough to stop gravity and pull you back up where its safe. I knew this feeling, but by now it was just life. I batted back the branches swatting him from every angle clutching my injured leg itching for the lights of camp. Scared that if I couldn’t see my path for one second I might miss something, a grenade, or enemy gun. My heart pounded adrenaline flooding my blood from the battle I just left behind.

Screaming, that’s all I remembered from the scene I just left… the pain flooding my comrades faces when they knew that they wouldn’t make it home, wouldn’t tuck their child in again, wouldn’t read the next letter headed with “My Love”. You know that saying no man is an island, well they obviously hadn’t thought of war because when you enter a battle field you think of yourself first or you wont make it out alive. I got lucky this time and I never understood why it was me being dealt the hand of survival.

Camp was only a few hundred feet away and I knew there I would be safe, or at least as safe as I could hope to be. Almost as soon as I entered the clearing medics hauled me away, then it just got quiet and black… adrenaline only stops the pain for so long I guess. When I woke up it was all so clean, white and crisp I was scared if I breathed I would dust it all with the dirt I was sure my body was filled with after months of crawling on the earth.

After adjusting to the brightness a nurse came and offered me food and drink, I graciously accepting and took this time to sit up and look around it seemed everyone here was scarred inside and out. The fellow next to me lost an eye. Made me feel lucky I just had a flesh wound on my leg. But something he said to me made me think… he told me, “This is my ticket home boy, I might only see half as much but that’s a hell of a lot better than ending up dead.” I was jealous of him then, jealous of a man without an eye.

The next day we were awarded Purple Hearts, they told me I was a hero, that I had somehow protected the freedom of our country. I didn’t feel honored, I felt betrayed. I grew up thinking that heroes had super strength, or super speed and only now in a hospital bed do I learn that the real heroes of this world are men just like me who answered a draft notice. I closed my eyes, thinking of my life before all this where a normal day was racing to the lake, working on a car, laughing, and just living without the fear that any second it would end.

It only took six weeks before they deemed me fit for duty, telling me they would be shipping me back to my company, now in the midst of the highest area of conflict. I said “yes, sir” like this American hero was ready for it all. We were thousands of feet in the air and when I looked down I could see it, gunfire. I stood at the entrance ready to plummet downward back to this war for survival. I leaped, and fell. Fell so fast I could have burst into flames right there, I kept looking down feeling like I was being pulled against my will to the last place on earth I wanted to be. As I got closer and could hear the shots I started screaming, clambering to get back to the plane grasping handfuls of nothing praying that I could stay suspended here, in mid air safely for just a second longer…





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Hippiechick10 said...
Jun. 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm
WOw! This was great. You really captured the emotions of a soldier's life. Great work.
 
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