Life on the Lines

December 14, 2017
By vanwyher, Sioux City, Iowa
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vanwyher, Sioux City, Iowa
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The author's comments:


December 14, 2017

Dear Editor:
I am submitting a short story, “Life on the Lines” for consideration in Teen Ink. It is 1000 words.
Please recycle my manuscript if it does not fit your editorial needs. I hope to hear from you soon.

Ryan V

Encl: Short Story, “Life on the Lines”

Life on the Lines

The faint sounds of gunfire and bombs in the distance cascade over Private Dan Hilton. He stays silent in a fox hole with nothing but his thoughts to pass the time. He thinks back to when he was states side with happy thoughts.
It seems as if it was just yesterday when I was in the back yard playing football with my two older brothers. The small town in Oklahoma was a great place to grow up, things seemed so simple then. I remember the sweet smell of my mom's apple pies and the homemade ice cream piled on it. Her gentle smile always seemed to put me at ease.
"Private Hilton, we need help over here!" Dan while peeking out of his fox hole, sees his commander dragging two soldiers towards him.
"Sir, I am here, what can I do?"
"Take one soldier towards the friendly lines so medics can care for him, I will carry the other."
"But sir, we will be crossing enemy fire and will probably be hit!"
"Private, that’s an order!"
Dan strategically carried the soldier toward friendly lines, dropping at times to avoid the enemy fire. Dan could hear the booms of the heavy artillery all around him. He would stop behind tress for cover to re-load his weapon. He saw fiery blazing of trees and grass plains, and he could hear the screaming and moaning of injured soldiers. When arriving at his checkpoint, he handed the injured soldier to a medic saying, "Hang tough, you will make it out of here brother, keep the faith." Nightfall comes and Dan found a place to sleep and prepare for another day of fighting.
As he fell asleep he remembered how is family would climb into the station wagon to attend church. Sunday was always a special day with family .I'd give anything to be back home eating Sunday dinner watching our favorite football team play.
"Wake up soldier, strategic planning in 5 minutes," says his commanding officer.
Dan shook off the layers of dust from the day before and joined his comrades. While pointing to the map on the board, the commanding officer states, "The enemy has begun to flank the eastern boundary. I need all you men to go and hold the parameters. This could mean a major shift in the war if we lose this ground."
Dan began to gather his weapon and equipment.
Steve, another soldier, barked out, "This is such bull! We will never make it out of this alive. Body bags are in our future."
Dan retorted, “Get your head in the game soldier, a positive attitude and perseverance is what is going to lead us to victory!"
"Whatever you say 'Captain’." Steve mockingly replied.
The platoon hurried to their position and prepared for the fight of their life. As they waited for the next command, Dan focused on the quietness of the land. He could hear the sounds of the nearby Sea, waves crashing upon the shore. His mind drifts back to his high school years, which he loved. He thinks about his high school sweetheart, Jane. Before Dan left to overseas, he put an engagement ring on her hand vowing they would marry. Suddenly bombs and artillery jarred Dan from his day dream.
"It's go time men.” shouted his commanding officer. The platoon advanced forward. "They are coming from both right and left sides,” screams Steve.
Dan unloads his weapon hoping the enemy would retreat. He looks to his left and sees his friend Steve fall; he is hit in the chest. Dan crawled over to him, and could see the fear in his face."Hang on Steve, medics will be here soon. You have to hang on!" Dan tried to cover Steve from the falling debris. He continued to re-assure him that everything would be fine."I know the Commander had called for help," cried Dan. Dan looked at Steve, and realized that he was dead. This shook Dan to the core. He knew he would have to move forward and leave him behind; otherwise, he would suffer the same fate. Dan left Steve and advanced toward the rest of the platoon. He saw dead men everywhere, enemies and allies. The moans and cries of the fallen echoed in his ears. The ground was scattered with huge holes where the mortar shells hit. He could hear the gun fire from the helicopters raining from above. Dan dived into a trench, just when a grenade landed next to him. In a panic he scooped up the grenade and tossed it back toward enemy fire. He wonders when this nightmare will ever end. Why aren't more troops coming to help? Dan remembered Steve's comment that they would never make it out of this alive. Dan tried to keep the faith and move on. He wished the fighting would just end, and he could go back home.
"Commander, what do we do now,” yelled Dan into the field filled with smoke .No reply from his commander only made Dan more nervous. “Can anybody here me?" Dan only could hear the cries for help from dying soldiers. Dan stormed the steep, slick hill looking for help. He suddenly felt a sharp pain in his stomach. He realized he had been hit by a bullet. He tumbled to the ground trembling with fear, and his eyes filled with tears. How could it end this way?
As Dan laid on the cool, hard ground, he thought of what his life could have been. He would have married Jane and had a family. Dan reached into his blood-soaked shirt pocket and pulled out a picture of his mom. She gave this picture to Dan to keep in his shirt pocket, so she would always be close to his heart.
Dan's mother opens the door of their small-town home to two soldiers on her porch holding Dan’s dog tags and a folded flag. She falls to her knees and sobs.

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