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Four Seasons of a Soilder

The Recruitment:

They always come, with their uniforms a little too big and their smiles a little too wide. They came for you father, and your uncle, long before your birth. When you were merely eight, they came for your older brother and he walked away with them, never to be seen again. And now they come for you, and your mamma is crying, begging them not to take her little boy and your dad is telling you how proud he is of you now. And they’re smiling all big like they just caught a huge fish and their swelled up chests start to fill out their uniforms.

The War:

You’re just a few days out of basic training when your friend, Jamison, comes running down the hall. You laugh a little because the sight of his brown hair flopping about makes you think of your dog. Jamison slides to a stop at the room you two share. He says today everyone is loading up and going to Vietnam. You don’t remember much about getting there, just arriving.

Dead bodies are scattered everywhere. They have their own distinct smell. Old bodies smell like the cow crap you used to hovel during the summers. New bodies smell sweet, like a little too ripe perfume and your sweetheart’s perfume. Fresh bodies smell like bike rust and tangy orange gunpowder and dirt. You start getting good at ignoring the death around you. When Jamison dies on your sixth day there, you start forgetting him as soon as the rusty orange smell hits your nose. But at night, he comes back and asks why you didn’t help him.

The Death:

It’s been months since you left, but every day seems like years. now only the best of your platoon are still alive. You’re the youngest and everyone calls you ‘Kid’. There’s Tommy, Eddie, Frank. Jack, Mason, the Boss and the Reverend. The Reverend is the one who prays over every meal you each together, before you start to march in the mornings and before you go to sleep at night. He’s the one who came just a moment too late and saw that bullet rip through your stomach. He shot the soldier who killed you six too many times. He held your hand while you cried for your mamma. He told you to take a little shut eye and you’d be home before you knew it. The Reverend marched with you in his arms for the next three days, just so you could make it home, like he promised.

The Funeral:

The Reverend, the Boss, Tommy and Mason all made it home. The Boss catches your mom as she falls to the floor and all five of them start to cry. Later that day your dad comes home and he shares drinks and stories with the Boss and Tommy and Mason and the Rev. The Boss talks about what a great soldier you were. Tommy tells a joke you taught him, but his laugh ends in a muffled sob. Mason tells your dad about how you taught him to read and your dad gives him all of your favorite books. The Reverend tells your dad about how you fell in love with his daughter and everyone was hoping the two of you would get married when you came home. /your dad is happy you fell in love even though you never got married. The five men make toasts all night, to you, to life, to love, to fathers, to brothers, to sons. The five men makes toasts until they can’t lift their glasses anymore. To you, to life, to love, to the army, to war, to honor, but most often, to you.



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SilverHedgehog said...
Jan. 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm
Wow. That was so simple, but touching at the same time. This is the first article in 2nd person I've ever enjoyed. It added so much to the story. Loved it.
 
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