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Soldier Made

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A cloud of sandy dust rolled up from the ground and into my mouth and nose. I coughed a few times trying to wash it out of my system but it had no effect. That was the one this I had never gotten used to, the weather here was a killer. Always sunny and horribly humid and don’t get me started on all the sand. Roads made of sand, floors made of sand the whole gosh darn city was made of sand and I couldn’t stand it. My green and brown camouflage uniform felt lighter than usual but I patted my side to make sure my rifle was still there, and it was. I took cautious silent steps thru the town, all the citizens were inside their small shack like houses for the night but this was still the most dangerous time of all. Snipers were hiding everywhere waiting for me to crackle on a leaf or break a stick so they could pinpoint my whereabouts ands place a bullet directly through my skull. Somehow inside my head though I felt like they couldn’t touch me or even if they did I would be alright, like nothing bad could happen to me.

Only about a quarter mile up the road I heard the sound of a machine gun shooting off rounds of bullets. I stood still in my place almost in a panic. It never mattered how much training I had or how many experiences I had been through when the real bullets started to be fired I could never just spring into typical soldier action, I was scared. I saw a young women running up the street towards me waving her arms, “HELP! HELP!” she screamed. That was about the only English she spoke so when we finally met each other she just motioned for me to go with her to where the shootings had happened. I knew there was nothing either of us could do now to stop the shooters now thought and it wasn’t safe so I tried to motion her in the opposite direction to safer territory but she was persistent. She clung to my arm crying, begging me to follow her back to the place where she came from. I felt a lump develop in the bottom of my stomach, I really felt terribly for this woman, her family was probably dead now and there was not a thing I could do to help her with that. Against my better judgment I started to walk with her back to the rows of hutches where the shooting happened, holding my rifle tight with one arm and trying to calm her shaky body down with my other.

When we finally reached the town I could see it all under the moons light. Bodies scattered all over the streets, mostly men who had probably run outside to protect their families from the shootings. The girl started to bawl at the sight of one man on the street, she held his body in her arms and kissed his cheek before placing him back on the ground. People began to hear us outside and peered out their houses to see if it was safe before coming out to mourn their own family members. Many of the women walked by me, heads hung low to the ground, not looking up to acknowledge my presence but I could see the tears still streaming down their faces. One by one I watched them shuffle out of the houses carrying blankets and books each one laying a blanket over the deceased body then kneeling to say a prayer. I became so consumed in watching their ritual, not even the youngest of the children fidgeted during the prayer and when it was over they each kissed the forehead of whoever they were praying for, stood up and went to stand with the others in a mass circle of mourning. It wasn’t until the whole ordeal was complete that I realized how completely and utterly against military conduct this was. I was never supposed to allow surviving civilians out of their houses after a shooting, but how could you not let them have this one last moment with the people they loved? But no, I knew it was wrong because this was when the shooters usually came back for a second round, they knew this was the tradition so everyone was exposed, and I was encouraging it but not stopping them.

Before I had a chance to move them I heard the first shot, followed by the first scream. I turned my head quick enough to see an elderly woman laying on the ground lifeless, a little girl, no older then thirteen crying over her body. Nobody moved they had no idea what to do. They looked at me confused and I realized what was happening. Quickly I tried to motion my hands for them to run inside when another round of shots were fired towards us. People collapsed all around me but I couldn’t bring my feet to move. I held my rifle up in the air, trying to look for where the shooters were coming from but it was too dark and I could just barely make out shadows and there was no chance I was wasting my bullets on inanimate objects if I was wrong.
Suddenly I saw him, I was sure it was a human this time because I could see the piercing green eyes from miles away. I looked directly at him as I aimed and for a moment I thought he looked at me to. I set to shoot and set my finger on the trigger, when BAM! What the heck was that?!? I was lying on the ground dazed; sand covering my entire body and for a moment I didn’t feel anything just a little taken aback and dizzy but then it all came over me. I had a terrible pain running through my head and my vision was impaired by something that tasted exactly like blood. I finally realized what had happened, I was hit. I was shot by that damn sniper right in the middle of the head. My whole world spun around and around and I felt like I was going to puke all over. Just before I was about to close my eyes I saw her, the girl from earlier running out from behind a tree, blanket and book in hand. She looked down at me, tears streaming down her face. I wanted to reach up and hold her, touch her arm and let her know I was okay but I was paralyzed by the pain. She placed the blanket over my body and feeling its warmth helped my body settle. I shut my eyes and listened to her prayers, her voice as soft and delicate as a humming bird. My body sunk into a deep rest and I was no longer in pain. I was alright and now nothing bad would happen to me.



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