A Soldier’s Tale by Guest Author David Rhodes

Guest Author David Rhodes

Guest Author David Rhodes

His father had always told him that a boy wasn’t a man until he had fought in a war. So, he had joined the military, like his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. His father never told him about dying.

The blast was sudden, surprising, even for a battlefield. For a moment he seemed suspended in mid-air, blood streaming from the stumps that used to be his legs, the world around him frozen in a soundless time and space. And then he was falling, nothing left between him and the ground, slamming into earth that should have been much softer, not as hard as a cement sidewalk in a city.

He went straight down, and he had no choice but to scream in agony. He no longer had that luxury, as his body took control of his reactions. His eardrums had been dampened by the blast of the mine, and now all around him were the muffled shouts and curses, gunfire everywhere, the agonizing of those who were like him, those who were dying.

It was strange in that situation, but he found himself thinking of his mother. She would be devastated at the news of his death. She would plop down into a chair like a lump of putty, staring straight ahead, unable to show any emotion whatsoever. Or she would collapse into his father’s arms, and end up bed ridden for a week, unable to cope with a world where her son no longer existed.

Father would have been proud.

Hell wasn’t a place below the surface of the Earth where little demons prodded you with pitchforks while you simmered in a lake of fire. No, Hell was in a little country called Vietnam, on the other side of the world, so far away from his home that he might as well have been on the moon. Hell was where you learned the horrible truth.

Young men (children) were fighting for a cause they knew little or nothing about, or just didn’t care. No one had asked them if they had a view on the issues, if they wanted to participate in a war of politics and blood. They were simply ordered by their country to go and fight for freedom and justice, even to die. It was honorable to die for one’s country, to be sure, but was it right to be cast into the chaos of blood because of a few men?

The life slowly drained from him as the din became real again, muffled, but real; and two months earlier, hadn’t that life seemed like an eternity? It had taken nineteen years that stretched on forever to reach that point, and once he had considered what it would be like to live for fifty or sixty years. It had been unimaginable. Now, it was not only unimaginable, but also impossible.

He realized just how short life really was – the blink of an eye, the nod of a head – in the great scheme of things a human life was no more than a fragile leaf crushed underfoot.

The blink of an eye, the nod of a head. The course of a bullet.

Life was that fragile.

Mother stood there amidst the noise. “My poor child, to die like this.”

And then she vanished, leaving only the terrible noise of war.

The blink of an eye.

Someone else appeared, a stranger; he bent down and promised the young soldier that he would be in a better place. He had a red cross patch on his arm.

“You are going to be healed, my friend,” the man said.

The soldier felt the soft caress of fingers over his face, and then over his mouth and nose. He felt the pain and anger leave him. The truth of life was true.

The blink of an eye, the nod of a head. The course of a bullet.

 

 

 

One Response to “A Soldier’s Tale by Guest Author David Rhodes”

  1. R.B. Clague says:

    Nice story.

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