A black starless night. Somewhere off in the distance the earth-shaking rumble of war marches on. A warm breeze from the east floats across David’s face. Suddenly a bright flash of white light twenty yards to the left focuses David’s attention. The soundless light is a beacon in a sea of darkness that seems to guide david’s thoughts. He feels the slight pressure of a twice folded piece of construction paper resting against his tired leg. On it, an image of his beautiful new home and the new puppy rolling around in the grass. David’s daughter had given him the picture the day before he got his orders to leave. Susie cried when her dad left, but David had promised to write her every week to tell her how much he loved her. So far he had kept that promise. David’s thoughts returned to the light and then to the cool band of gold wrapped around his finger. David had been happily married for seven years, and he knew he would never find anyone that he loved more. But they had been fighting when he left and now he was left with guilt and a desire to return to her embrace and tell her that she had been right. The light moved his thoughts to his father. David didn’t have a good relationship with his father in recent years. Some forgotten feud had driven them apart. David’s father died early last year and David has been living with shame and regret ever since, wishing that he could take back the arguments and tell his dad how he really felt, how he really loved him. But it was to late. The light brings David back and he feels the cold black steel between his hands. It was six months ago to the day when David first shot his gun. Between then and now so much has changed, and he has taken the life of seven men during this war. Some of the men in his unit could boast of more, but David regretted every single one. Their faces stood before him as clear as the day they died, frozen in a state of fear and hatred. All the faces of David’s life will eventually fade but the men he killed will remain with him as clear as day for the rest of his life, reminding him of the life he so selfishly stole from them. Again David sees the light, this time he feels his camouflage uniform caressing his skin. He didn’t ask to fight. He had been drafted into a war of unknown purpose, and had dutifully answered his country’s call. Six months later his country had taken its share and more, and David was left depressed and exhausted. But his time was up and tomorrow he would be returning to his new home and beautiful wife and daughter. The light caught his eye again and David’s thoughts continued to go on and on. For what seemed like an eternity David thought about his life in the past present and future. The excitement of falling in love, and the sadness of losing a loved one. And then one last time David saw the light.
David experienced all of this in one instant. One signal moment of the fantastical physical and emotional perception that makes us human, and gives meaning to our world. And all it took was this one instant for a bullet fired from a gun twenty yards to David’s left to tear through his heart and pull him into blackness.
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