Lessons of War

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
I volunteer at a VA hospital. I am also an interviewer for the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress. This is a brief meditation on the horrors of war.

Submitted: December 06, 2011

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Submitted: December 06, 2011




Lessons of War


There are two things that war teaches you: It’s all a hideous waste, and it changes you. Once you come back to wherever home may be, all has moved on, all feels different. The world is not as safe as it used to be, and it will never be again. You have lost friends, both over there and at home. And you are now incapable of shutting out the suffering, death, and evil of the world.

You have secrets inside of you, things that haunt you, sights and smells and sounds you cannot forget. Images of your best friend—at one moment alive and joking about some small thing, and the next instant you see a bullet or piece of shrapnel rip through his face, leaving only torn flesh, fragments of exposed bone—perhaps an now-empty eye socket—and pulsing eruptions of dark blood. I

t happens quickly and irreversibly, leaving you stunned for a few exploding heartbeats before you can fire back into the shadows of the jungle, hoping to hit something alive, anything alive.

That is what changes you.

And that is what forever invades your consciousness at night, suddenly assaults you by day, and forces you to question and weigh and doubt—everything.


Adapted from my novel Gifts of Snowflakes

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