Memory of A Solider

March 25, 2010
The soldier folded his hands across his gun as he watched the war-torn world outside his window. Soldiers packed on to trains like cattle, shipped to be sold and bought on the muddy battlefields. He didn’t like the feeling of being so close to another human being on these trains, all the soldiers sweating with anxiety and homesickness as they rode quickly to create another grave without a name. If he watched the window too closely everything became a blur, indefinable. But if he looked at the sick and ragged soldier across from him he’d be reminded once again of things he didn’t want to remember. He settled back and closed his eyes.
He could not recall why he was fighting this war, why his country was fighting this war. Government propaganda had made him proud to be a soldier, government wars had made him old beyond his years. He remembered his brother telling him that he shouldn’t waste his life on a war that no one remembers how it started. He had gone anyway.

In countless towns with names that no longer mattered, he had fought this war, killing mercilessly for his country. Was that something to be proud of? Was that something he had been proud of? When months had gone by it had just become a fight for survival. He has a gun, I have a gun. I do not want to die, neither does he. But nature cannot evolve species that does not want to survive, and in the end that had been what mattered most, survival.

Memories started surfacing as he drifted to sleep, memories he tried to push out of his mind but was too far gone to stop. He was in a city that flashed and burned with bright lights from the bombers above. He ran through the city, frantic as he tried to curb his human instinct to hide. The orders were clear: kill everyone that tried to escape the city. He tried not to let it get to him as he shot women and children that ran out of their houses, boys nearly his age, but something inside him broke as another soldier killed a baby boy and his mother. He cried for the soldier to stop as he lifted his gun to shoot a little girl. The soldier didn’t respond if he did hear him, and before he knew what he was doing, he shot the soldier, and grabbed the little girl.

She didn’t scream, surprising considering the circumstances. She simply clung to him desperately, a refugee, an orphan, putting her face into his neck. She was so small, so young to have been traumatized by war. He didn’t think as he ran with her, trying to get her to safety, anything to save her from the despair and darkness around her. He did not want her to die.

A soldier saw him running through the streets and screamed at him to stop. The girl shifted now, trying to free herself, panicking. He tried to hold on but she dropped to the ground. She had no chance to even run. As soon as she stood there was a crack and she fell back to the ground.

He woke with a start, sweating and sobbing gently. He had lost his will to fight since that day, a broken, useless soldier. He could not fight if it meant killing the innocent. To him war was just a game the governments played, sending men to die and kill for their amusement. More than anything he wanted peace for that little girl.





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