Once a Soldier This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

October 28, 2009
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He watched his rigid, old hands, once stained with blood
as he traced his fingers up the stock, butt, and nose of the rifle
that had once dealt fate with undeniable pain –
undeniable and true. I used to be able to fly,
he thought as his hands began to shake. I used to be a real
man. Now only with his rifle did he feel at home.

It all started back when he left his home
for a world that could make the blood
of the strongest man curdle. It was the real
world out there, he was told, and was given a rifle
to become friends with. “This is mine,” he recited, as the enemies would fly
overhead. He could hear their planes' engines, and feel the pain

in his raw stomach. This was the only kind of pain
that was unwelcome, the only pain that made him home-
sick. Night fell, and so he could only hear the mosquitoes fly
around his eyes. He'd wondered about them, why blood
tasted so good. It was the heartbeat of his rifle,
the pulse line of the Earth. This was what became real

to him. A well-oiled machine, built to dish out real
punishment, severe casualties, pain.
This was why he enlisted. His rifle
told his story now. Home
was an anomaly, the Earth stained with the blood
of infidels, comrades, and those in between. Now the bullets fly

as easily as the rain once fell. “Time to fly,
boys,” said his staff sergeant. “It's about to get real
so, now's not the time to lose your cool.” Blood
rushed to his head and delivered a sensation of pain
and adrenaline, one that he now lusted for. What is home?
He had lost all sense as his rifle

took control. He was pink-slipped, and the thunderous roar of the rifle
assumed his position. Feeling as if he could fly,
he felt his once-raw stomach turn to velvet. “This is home,”
he thought out loud, screamed out loud. As it happened in real
time, it felt as though the experience sped by too quickly. The pain
was still there, though different now. He looked to his hands stained with blood.

It was the crusted blood on his rifle,
the new, old pain, and how he wished to fly,
that made him feel real. He would never get home.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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INnaturegirl said...
Mar. 1, 2010 at 7:05 am
wow... great job :D kinda darkish but i love it
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