I wrote this because I felt like I had to. I felt powerless against war, as though I could do...
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The men at the front are really boys. They stick out of their uniforms and look at the world with large, confused eyes. They no longer believe the war lies, in the glory, the friendship and magnificence. The real war has jumped off equipment posters and killed everyone they know. Solider boy watches the new requites, who grow younger every shipment. Those little ones, have yet to learn how to kill a man. Those little ones, know what the capital of Norway is, they know that Pb stands for Lead on the
periodic table and how to use Pythagoreans. They know what school taught them and no more. These boys, these young, people haven’t had a chance to live before they are killed by somebody else’s war.
“Do you remember that film about the guy who gets in a coma, then when he wakes up the love of his life has married someone else?”
“Yeah, I saw that a long time ago.”
“I kinda feel like, I feel like this is me in a coma. This war is me being completely out of the world. I feel like when I wake up, and return to the real world my girl will have married someone else.”
“There are no men to marry, back home. Everyone is out here. So do not worry. I wish I were in a coma; I’ve always wanted to be in a coma. Just to see what it was like. Better to be in a coma then be here, because if you die in a coma it is your own body that kills you, not someone else’s, like our deaths will be like” Soldier boy smiles at his friend. Smiles used to come easy, as laughter did and does for children. Solider boy is no longer able to smile so easily or laugh. There are few things to laugh and smile at.
Soldier speaks between puffs on his cigarette. Cigarettes kill your hunger, numb your pain, and relax the nerves. When the food is nearly out, and all you have is a piece of bread, a cigarette is beautiful. All the solider boys smoke, as much as they can. Rich food hurts them; they have been hungry so long.
The morning after violence the solider boys huddle together against the cold and the wind, watching the wounded die. The nursing supplies haven’t come yet, so many will die. A boy walks about on the stumps of his legs, wondering why he is stared at. Solider boy has seen this before, a man forgets his legs are blown away; there is somehow a pat of him that does not feel his loss. His blood is pouring out of him and making him slip in the mud. Solider boy only hopes that soon the boy walking on his stumps dies. For now, the boy with stumps’ best friend is death. Death will offer calm and escape. The boy with stumps finally falls on his back. He stares up at the sky, and tears begin to blind him. He knows that his life is over, but he does not really understand why. He watches a storm come in silently.
It is not rain that falls but hail. The solider boys cover their heads with the small plastic sheets they were given against all weather. The sheets are no good. They are weak and heavy. Yet it is all the boys can do, they are not allowed to go into the deserted house, for that is for their officers. The solider boys have to stay out in the weather. The cold creeps into their bones, the wet clings to their skin, the hail pounds relentlessly; all is miserable. From the inside they are gnawed by hunger, from the outside by weather, slowly these boys are eaten way until they are just shells.