To Tear A Stone
Author's note: I wrote this because I felt like I had to. I felt powerless against war, as though I could do... Show full author's note »
What Cause Have We?Together they huddle, the lost boys at the front. They are not allowed to smoke now, for it is night and the embers of cigarettes glow in the dark, making targets for the enemy.
“What cause have we?” Solider boy asks the boy next to him. The boy looks in his direction. “What cause is there?” Soldier boy asks. “What cause is there to kill a man for? I can name no such cause, look around, and ask yourself, what cause can have been this for?” The other boy says nothing; he just looks
In the dark a dying boy calls out. He calls to people who are not there; he calls for the people he has left at home. Like a child having nightmares, he calls out for his mother. She is far away, she will never come for him when he tosses and turns in his final nightmare. Soldier boy listens to the cries, and his gurgling whimpers; then only hopes that boy in nightmares will soon die. That boy is dying; only young lives are slow in leaving their bodies. That boy, the one lost in the darkness, will soon die; it is only a question of time. Here is the glory of war; these boys are countries’ heroes. These lost and frightened boys at the front.
Soldier boy wants to smoke. He is hungry, and has no food. The food supplies ran out a good two weeks ago, he has survived on stolen food from the villages they passed though. Even that stolen food has now run out. He is down to his last three cigarettes. Everything has run out. Soldier boy shifts his seat, as a stone is digging into his back where he’s sitting.
Though the darkness comes a shuffling noise. Someone walking. Solider boy becomes tense that could be the enemy. There is a long, silent pause. Then a scream of pain echoes. The scream carries over the crushed land, chilling the soul. The scream sound again. A girl. There is another pause, then a crash sound and some running feet. Gunfire starts, it glows though the darkness. Solider boy’s gun is at the ready. He wishes there was moonlight; he is almost fully blind in this darkness.
The gunfire continues in short bursts. Those are the new recruits, firing blindly into the darkness out of fear. Soldier boy tries to relax, with fear comes hysteria, and with hysteria comes death. Then he hears someone moving though the darkness, his or her step is light but not noiseless.
“Who goes there?” Solider boy hisses though the night, the gunfire continues.
“Someone who will not harm you.” The girl’s voice returns after a short pause.
“What do names matter? I do not know you, and you do not know me.”
“Where are you?”
“Here.” She puts her hand on his shoulder; he jumps then tries to relax.
“Where did you come from?”
“A village in the south.”
“I don’t know where south is, I have lost my directions.”
“You will not know it, for it is like any of the other villages flattened by this war. I left it and my families’ bodies in hope of a land untouched by war.”
“Any luck in finding it?”
“I found this place I am now.”
“Are you alone?”
“I have lost my companion this morning, to those you fight against. He took many a bullet into his body before he died. I think, I think, he continued walking after death.” The girl whispers back, then takes her hand off of the soldier’s shoulder.
“I have seen dead men walk before, it is a strange sight. Get away from here! It is dangerous! Get as far away as you can while the darkness lasts. The enemy forces are somewhere near.”
“I thank you for my life.”
“There is no need to thank me. It is your right, just as it is my right to not kill you. By not killing you I have freedom of myself and my own decisions.” Solider boy is proud. “Go! Now! There are many men whose fear has made them cruel. They would gladly kill you.”
“Till we meet again.” The girl’s voice returns. Into the night she goes, moving with less noise. The firing has now stopped, and silence reigns again.
“Enemy attack! Rifles at the ready!” Shouts the voice of an officer “Do not retreat! We will serve ou” he never finishes his sentence; his voice is cut of by a yelp of pain. Though the darkness run strange men. Each side is just as blind as the other. The boy soldiers form each side blindly stagger though the night like drunkards, hoping not to bump into one and other.
There is a sudden flash of light, and a bomb explodes. Into the air fly the solider boys, their bodies like sacks of laundry. They fly up into the air like paper, their bodies twisting in the air. The light from the bomb disappears before the boys hit the ground again. When their bodies hit the earth again they are quiet and light.
Solider boy is afraid in the darkness. He is alone. Then suddenly the ground beneath him lights up, he flies up into the air. Up, up like a bird he flies. He looks up at the stars. Such a beautiful sight to see before you die! Thinks soldier boy. He takes one breath of the night air, and embraces death. Proud that before he died he made his own choices. He saved a life. Solider boy is no longer a solider; as he dies he is free of that name. As he dies solider boy becomes a boy, and only a boy. His body will be in a soldier’s boy, his name will be on the list of men who died for their country. He alone knows of his freedom, he dies Robert Smith, not Private Robert Smith.