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The Battle After the War
Historical fiction about an American soldier recovering from PTSD after the Vietnam War.Chapter 1: The Battle After the War
He prayed for one good night's sleep as he dozed away. The last time he truly rested was before the memories began to reappear. He closed his eyes and fell asleep to the gentle pitter patter of rain, it was one of the few things that calmed him.
Bullets chipped away at the wall he stood behind. Leaning for a view, he opened and locked his eyes on the target above his sight. Loud whistling followed by nothing but the brightest white and a shockwave that compressed his entire body. His ears screeched, stumbling to get back up. Eyes twitching to regain sight until a smoking crater came into sight only fifteen feet away. He raised his head and focused a thousand yards away, past the dust and falling bodies. Reality came back to him in an instant.
“Fall back!” shouted a nearby soldier. He was yanked back behind what was left of his wall. He sat with no expression as the soldier next to him shook uncontrollably. Luckily he was left unscathed from the explosion. Rising from his position, he looked over the wall to see a wave of young men racing towards their line of defense. Thoughts rushed through his head like lightning as he duct back down. The soldier to his left now lay motionless on the dirt, blood pooled. Without a thought he rose and steady his rifle to the first Vietnamese boy he saw. His right hand tightened around the grip of his M16 and pulled for the trigger. Everything turned to darkness. He awoke with a stiff and sweaty body beneath the sheets. The clock revealed that it had only been half an hour since he had fallen asleep, another restless night.
Nick awoke to the light of the rising sun through his window and feet tapping from below. He had overslept, something he did often.
“Nick, come on down for breakfast!” called Lisa, his caretaker.
“I’ll be down when I’m ready, no need to yell,” replied Nick in an adamant tone. He tumbled out of bed and struggled throughout his morning routine. He had trouble doing everyday things with his shaky and clenched hands. He wanted so badly to overcome all this and everyday he came closer and closer to taking action and doing something, but he just couldn’t. There was no one to motivate him. He remembered the year he was withdrawn from Vietnam, he came back to nothing. Society didn’t care so much about him or his fellow soldiers as they did about just putting an end to the war and forgetting. He believed it was all because of those anti-war protestors. That year was 1973. Today was the day he was going to make his move. He skipped his breakfast and walked straight out the door. He observed his surroundings. He hadn’t stepped out for months, maybe years. His pace sped until he was distant from the house.
“What are you doing!” yelled Lisa as she swung the front door open and walked up the porch.
“I’m going out for a walk!” Nick yelled back with a long grin on his face. He walked and walked, the road led him. Pleasant memories of when he once followed his mother and father down the same path flooded his mind. He walked all the way to Kent University, remembering when it wasn’t a center for protest. He walked till he heard the humming of a car slowing behind him.
“Nick get back in this car, I’ve been looking for you everywhere,” demanded Lisa. Nick turned and made his way into the car.
“You can’t be scaring me like that,” she uttered.
He shook with joy as he told her all about the walk, “That was on of the first times I truly got away from my house, and I loved every bit of it!” He went on and on for days about the walk to Lisa and what he had seen.
From that day on he took small steps to reconnect himself with what he remembered before the war, taking daily walks with Lisa and friends. The shaking of his hands partially faded away as the years past and he could finally rest without jolting back to reality. He even helped those who suffered as he once did to reclaim their lives from PTSD, to be treated like the soldiers who returned from WWII. He became the help he once searched for but couldn’t find. He forgave society for not helping him and years later they realized what a hero he was. He won the battle after the war.