Soldier

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Why do some live and others not? Why does death visit the undeserving?

Submitted: October 04, 2013

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Submitted: October 04, 2013

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He stands in full uniform, back straight as a pole, and eyes fixed ahead. There’s nothing that could distract that gaze. He stands at attention, not just because of his uniform, not just because of the position he holds, but because of the three coffins draped with American flags that sit before him.

The families wept, but not him. Grief dominated each heart in attendance and surfaced in tears, but not him. His blue eyes shed not a tear, though his heart grieves with them.

People leave, one by one, but not this soldier. Rain begins to fall and umbrellas are enforced, but not this soldier. He stands with his gaze fixed ahead. Soon, this soldier is completely alone. A sob rises in his throat and tears form in his eyes, but he refuses to cry.

He lifts his right hand to his breast pocket and pulls out three objects.

He steps to the first coffin and sets a pawn on the flag. For his friend, that pawn represented him: a soldier that many would never hear of or care about. But important he was. The young man’s words ring in the soldier’s ears: “Some of us will be honored with medals and stuff,” he had said as he held up the pawn. “Not me. I’m simply a pawn. Somebody has to be unknown. Somebody has to fight the good fight. And somebody has to be brave enough to take the first step out. I’m good with that.” The soldier steps back and raises his arm to salute his lost friend.

He steps to the next coffin and lays an old ticket stub for the last movie his friend had seen with the girl he would ask to marry him when he returned home. He flattened the curled paper down as rain spotted it. He blinked away tears. “When I get home,” the young man said. “I’m going to ask her to marry me. I’ve fought for her since we first met. I’ve fought for her this entire time. I’ll fight for her till death do we part.” But death did they part before they were together. The soldier steps back and raises his arm to salute his lost friend.

He steps to the last coffin and places an old, rusted pin his friend’s father had given him. The pin said “Victory in Jesus.” The young man had worn the pin on his breast pocket into every single battle, every single deployment, and every single operation. If and when anybody asked about it, he simply said, “I’m a soldier, but my victory isn’t dependent on how well my platoon does. I already have victory and that’s in my savior, Jesus Christ. Nobody’s going take that away from me.” He looked at the pin and knew that he had found his victory at last. The soldier steps back and raises his arm to salute his lost friend.

 

He lowers his arm and looks at each coffin. Tears course down his cheeks.

“Why am I still here?” he chokes out. His heart aches with the agony of knowing that each of these men he’d never see again. Men who deserved to live much more than he did. “You didn’t deserve this,” he whispered into the rain. He didn’t care that his uniform was getting soaked. He didn’t care that everything seemed pointless now that they were gone. What had he to fight for now? He had no family, no friends, and no girl to come home to. He was the lone soldier. And now everything was gone.

Fighting with these men had been the greatest honor he’d ever experienced. They had planned out returns and each had every intention of keeping in contact. Now that wasn’t even an option. Out of the four, only this lonely soldier was left.

A cry escaped from inside. A cry that sounded of all the heartache he’d have to endure for the weeks, months, and maybe even years ahead. He sniffed back his tears, but it didn’t help. He in his mind kicked himself for crying. Real men don’t cry, he told himself. Oh, why did he have to live?

Suddenly, he felt warmth inside of his hand. A little reassuring grasp filled his palm. He looked down and saw a little girl, dressed in black carrying a ladybug umbrella. She squeezed his hand with all her might, letting him know that to whatever small extent it was, he was not alone.

He knelt down and she stepped forward to wrap her arms around his neck. This was what he fought for. He fought for her. He had never met the little girl, didn’t know where she came from, but all he knew was that she was worth fighting for. He fought for his country and those who loved its freedom. He fought for her. He held her as tight as was possible to his heart without crushing her. His heart ached ten times more (as it always does when you are held in your grief). He held back another sob as she let go. He let go of her and mustered up a wan smile. He was still on his knee when she ran back to him, pressed her hands on either side of his neck and kissed his cheek. She ran to her mother who was standing on the edge of the graveyard holding her own umbrella. He stood and watched the girl run off. He didn’t know them. He didn’t care. All he knew was he had seen what was worth fighting for. He turned to the coffins for the last time. And for the last time, he saluted.


© Copyright 2019 Le Petit Conteur. All rights reserved.

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