Where Have All The Young Men Gone?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic

Where have all the young men gone? I see only shadows in the light. Where have all the brave men gone?


By Al Garcia

Where have all the young men gone?  I see only shadows in the light.  Where have all the brave men gone? 

I hear a whimper and then a moan like a whisper in my ear.  I hear the wind and feel the rain drops on my face, and again I hear the sound that nothing makes.  So quiet the sound of nothingness.  And then I hear a whimper and then a moan.  I feel the wetted fields of grain beneath my feet, surrounding and engulfing me.  I hear a roar above a darkened sky, the wind consuming my very breath.

I look behind me and see a flash of red, of yellow and maybe even blue, but gone too quick to really see.  My mind is playing tricks on me, or so I think.  I should be home, I tell myself.  And then again I hear a whimper and then a moan.

I see a face flash before my eyes.  Yet I feel alone.  I am standing in an open field of muddied water.  My senses deceive me.  I feel a wetness on my hands and smell an odor, foreign and pungent beginning to permeate my mouth, my nose.  I am in limbo, motionless.  How can time slow like this I ask myself.  And once again I hear a whimper and a moan, so faint, echoing in the moon-lit night. 

Time stands still.  An hour, a minute, a second?  How long have I been standing here?  I begin to see around me.  Sweat drips from my forehead into my eyes.  My head is covered.  Heavy.  Confining.  My heart is pounding.  My mind racing.  Shouts.  Flashes of light.  Deafening sounds surround me.  And again the whimper and the moan – louder, stronger, I can even feel it in my chest. 

I feel a rush of wind behind me.  Hands shoving me hard as I fall forward toward the wetness beneath me.  My hands, my face, my body now entombed in a mixture of mud and grass, the aroma releasing memories within my muddled mind of rainy days back home.  My eyes closed shut, willing this feeling of madness away, my heavy arms flaying about.  And then I hear a whimper and a moan.

It is quiet.  Strange.  Confusion reigns my mind.  My heart beats harder, faster, louder.  In an instant between serenity and agony I feel a hand across my face. Once, twice.  I am shaken by the shoulders.  I am awake.  I am awake.  I am whimpering and I am moaning.  I am awake.

There before me, in a muddy rice paddy I see my friend.  Lifeless, colorless, motionless.  His eyes locked on to mine, his mouth opened as if to speak.  I am pulled up and away.  My legs shaky, rubbery, weak.  Two boys my age grab my arms and pull be up from the muddied field.  I feel the rush of air and wind across my face.  My heavy helmet falling to my shoulders held on by its leather strap, I gain my balance and stand on my own two fee.  My mouth is forced open by a moan of pain and disbelief, of agony and anger, of sadness and loss.  My moan echoes across the silenced field.

I break away from my two saviors and rush forward to the side of my fallen friend.  My knees weaken, my heart exploding with an unbearable pain not felt before.  I cradle my fallen friend, my tears obscure the scene before me.  I feel the tugging at my shoulder, once twice.  I begin to rise, holding the limp and unmoving body of my friend.  I turn and fall onto my knees.  Again my saviors hold me up.  This time they take my friend away from me.  He needs them more than me, I think.  And my heart begins to weep.

And I hear a whimper and a moan, and then I realize that it was me all along.  I feel alone again.  I remembered now.  The flashes, the sounds of gunfire and mortars going off.  My friend and I standing in an open field.  The next moment I was alone.  And again I hear my whimper and my moan.

And where have all the young men gone?  Where have all the brave men gone?  I see the shadow of my friend extend his hand and smile at me on that muddied field.  And I don’t know why all the brave young men have gone.

So many gone.

Submitted: June 05, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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