Reality of War

June 13, 2011
I could feel the heat of the sun on my face as I staggered up the hill. Taking a deep breath to prepare myself for what I knew was to be an ugly sight I felt beads of sweat run down my face from the top of my forehead. I reached the peak of the mound and flinched back at once. There were so many distorted, garbled, yet somewhat familiar faces twisted upon the ground I had just set foot on. These dead and wounded bodies consumed the land and were scattered so that I barely had room to move. Slowly, but carefully, I walked down the battle field looking over all we had lost. All I had lost. I didn’t want to see this or go through it. The thing is I never planned to be here; I was expected to be. I killed and could’ve even died because I was embarrassed not to.



I felt a terrible guilt as I passed the bodies of my old friends. It was as if I thought I could’ve prevented their deaths somehow. That in some weird way it was partly my fault these people were gone. These people with families, wives, and kids. These people with lost talents; lost benefits to the world. These people with actual meaning. Now I on the other hand, have nothing to offer. Why not me? What made me so lucky? I remember my grandfather telling me that you’re never more alive, then when you’re almost dead. I never understood what he meant by that until now.



I heard my buddy Ron violently coughing as he was coming up beside me. He’s not going to last long was my minds instant reaction. Around four men die of sickness for every man killed in battle. I glanced up across the entire field and quickly multiplied all the mangled bodies by four. I hastily calculated that there was no way I would even be able to walk, without stepping on soon to be corpses if all the deceased were laid out in front of me. Not even if they were spread from where I stood at that point to across the entire battlefield.



I was dreading the moment I’d pass by my good friend Jacob. That is if I could find any remain of him. I knew Ron was thinking the same as I. A secret joy was shared between me and Ron right around then. We felt guilt and mournfulness for our friends, of course, but we also felt a kind of giddiness. It was because we were still alive, and it was all based on chance and happenstance.



In a war, when someone dies it is not taken upon as nobody’s fault, but rather, everybody’s. Some of my friends had already died of typhoid fever from contaminated water. Most had been bitten by infected mosquitoes and had died from malaria. How will I die? Will it be a sickness or will I be in battle? Is there any possible way I can get through this? The rotten stench of the bodies became too much to take and I started to retreat the field, my thoughts filled with questions that I had no answers for.





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