Disorder This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

February 25, 2012
The darkness was cavernous, dismal. You pace the wooden deck, shivering under your thin jacket. Think of all that has happened on nights like this, under this heavy darkness. How long ago was it when you ran, ran for your life- through the darkness, flashlights bouncing, guns firing, bags straining your back?

Now you have a house lit with electric light, a loving wife and a warm meal waiting for you. And you feel you don’t deserve it. Why do you get to come home to a happy life when Katz didn’t get to come home at all.

She calls your name, you step back inside, welcoming the heat on your face. She wants to know what you were doing out there. How can you explain? The only people who understand are the ones who suffered with you. And many of those were blown away.

Not like she believes you. You shake. You have nightmares. You sometimes drift out of reality and into the past. Something happened to your brain over there. Something no one understands.

You carried your friend, Eddie, on your back to the field hospital, and they checked you in as well. You spent a night there, surrounded by people who had been injured. The next morning the nurses realised their mistake and got rid of you to make room for people with real problems. Never mind that it was you shouting out in the middle of the night, not them. That it was you who couldn’t sleep through the creaks and groans of the building. That they, with their missing limbs and bloody wounds, seemed more put together than you. You were torn to pieces inside, but people who had been dismembered were perfectly fine.

You go visit Eddie, but the noisy bustle of the large city sends you into a quivering anxiety. You can’t explain it.

When you were kids, you and Eddie used to go here all the time. You would toss rocks in the channels, race your bikes down the streets, run after pigeons. What happened? Maybe after the war everyone realized how dangerous the world really was, maybe after we got older we realized how terrifying things could be. But that couldn’t be true. Everyone else was the same as ever. Everyone except you.

You hop on a train.

On board, you get yourself a cup of coffee. A man sits behind you and you jump, startled. You spill your coffee all over your shirt. A woman glares at you and your shaky hands and terrified state. But when a man in a military dress uniform and a missing leg walks on, she jumps up and salutes. He barely notices the show of respect and hobbles over to you.

“What regiment?” he asks. You answer. “I know a military man when I see one.” he smiles.

“Where are you off to?” You ask.

“Got a ceremony. I’m getting the Purple Heart. You?”

“I’m visiting one of my friends in the hospital. He’s getting one too. I guess I’m one of the few lucky ones who got out unharmed.”

He looks at you. “No one gets out of war unharmed.”

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