War

War

A Story by BrynnaW.

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One narrow escape. Two shaky sighs. Three kneel before snapping whips. There, a man kneels still as a grave, a new battle not yet won. Beside him are two young men, still seeming to grow by the minute. He bows his head as another lashing whip splits scars on his bare bleeding back. A scream, a howl, a call so loud the heavens could part the clouds. But, they didn’t. Sand coats their lungs as steel-toed boots kick it at their bruised faces with malice. The young men sputter and cry but he, no, he, reaches to shield their faces and pushes them away to take their lashes. As the dust settles and the laughter recedes, a man decorated by frivolous badges stands before them, nudging their knees with his boots and the men with whips pull them to their feet by the metal collar fixed around their necks.

"One," the man says, striding to the first young man who looks around like a lion trapped in a cage. "Step forward!" He takes two steps forward, encouraged by the gun pointing at his chest, each step causing a hazy plume around them. The perfect cover.

"Two." The second young man steps forward without hesitation. They wanted this. Their hearts sang for relief, not fear.

He is next, he who cannot give up. "Three."

 The Condemning Paper

I remember how it happened. How it all seemed to begin. There I was, father, giver, lover, provider. At least, this is from what I can remember. Everything tends to blend together; I forget where I am and where I've begun or if I've ended. Maybe I already have. But there, there I was: father of two and provider of three.

"Daddy?" A little girl ran to me, her golden hair no longer than her shoulders and her skin far more pale than porcelain. She touched the leg of my pants, gently tugging to get my attention as she peers at me with those skeptical blue eyes of hers. "Daddy, what are you doing out here? What's that?" She pointed at the paper in my hand and I scooped her off the grass and into my arms, though she climbed up onto my shoulders. I held the paper away from her, it wasn’t her fault it was for her, for her mother, for her brother, for their lives. I marched into the house, ducking to make sure the little girl... My little girl didn't bump her head. She announced our arrival while my son looked up from his work to nod at me. Even then I could feel my blood draining to my toes. My wife called sweetly from the kitchen, her hair tied with a little red ribbon that trailed down the back of her head like blood from a gunshot wound and her floral yellow dressed covered by a dirty apron. I stood before her, a vulnerable man to the woman I loved, and kneeled so she could take our daughter from my shoulders. She must have noticed my unusual manner, the empty eyes that hallowed my skull, or my pursed lips that hadn't yet greeted her kindly with a kiss nor words.

As I stood she let her hand slide from my shoulders to my chest and I met her eyes, no different from my daughter's.  I took the paper from my pocket, about to hand it to her but my son came into the room and I spun at him angrily, "Give me time alone with your mother!" He stood there, stunned and obviously hurt by my outburst. I immediately felt remorse and reached out with my hand in effort to call him back but my son hurried away to go I know not where. When I turned around again, my wife had her hand over her lips, covering them as tears streamed down her perfect, rosy cheeks. At first I thought I had frightened her with my unusually stern tone but I soon understood the real cause when she slid down the cabinets and onto the floor. Her fingers were clutching the paper, the paper decorated with words of horror. She shook her head and reread the words that were attempting to burn her mind. I brushed her arm with my rough fingers but she would not respond to my increasingly urgent touch. I sighed, putting an arm behind her back and one under her legs despite her questions and lifted her to my chest. I carried her to our room and carefully set her on the edge of our bed as though she might break like a glass doll.

"Drafted?" My wife managed the single word that determined my fate, just like many before me, and she reached for my shirt again with her shaking hands. I took them in mine and nodded while avoiding her eyes. She kept shaking her head in defiance as if the spring in her neck was forever damaged like a broken toy. I did nothing but stand there, looking down at the woman I had devoted my life to and swore to protect. She let go of my hands to pull me down so she could set those soft,  little hands upon my cheeks and direct my eyes to hers. I tried to look away but she put her forehead to mine and cried no matter how hard I tried to stop her. My thumbs brushed away those death-expecting tears but they seemed to have already scarred her beauty. There, we sat for several minutes, my draft notice on the floor already seeming to soak in my blood.

War 

Gun shots motivated for murder, explosions loud enough to rattle teeth, dust pluming to act as a cover for the dying, flames scaling walls and consuming bodies. Death.

"Go! Go, go, get out of here!" Curses, screams. Praises.

No one wins.

 Goodbyes

"Daddy, do you have to go?" My little girl messed with the collar of my shirt while I held her on my hip. At the end of the street was a bus waiting to take me away from my life. There was nothing I could do to prevent this, though I wish I could say there was. Then, however, I would have no need of a tale.

"I'm sorry, darling. Daddy will be back soon though, I promise and you know I never break a promise," I should regret what I said but I don’t. My daughter looked at the old rag doll she had clutched in her fist and handed it to me.

"Honey, I can’t�"," Her inquiring gaze stopped me short and I nodded, offering her a gentle smile as I tucked the doll into my shirt pocket. Suddenly, a chill crept through my spine and I felt as though I were carrying my own voodoo doll. My wife took our daughter from me, setting her down on the grass before she hugging me tightly, a grip I thought she would never loosen. My arms wrapped around her waist and I breathed in her heavenly perfume that announced her arrival into every room along with her bouncy, blonde curls. These thoughts have become distant and precious memories to me but they compromise me. There is no such thing as love and war.

My son watched us, still wavering on whether I would scold him but I beckoned him closer with my hand until he spread his arms for a group hug; my daughter as well grabbed onto my legs. Time was ticking though, the jeep... The tank... No, the bus was waiting for me but it was also waiting for other drafted souls. I let go of my family and it was as if I were letting go of my own life, offering it to the next man in line. I kissed each cheek, each forehead, squeezed every hand like a trigger, and my heart bled like a dead man.

Torture 

Help me! Get me out of here! Straps, metal clasped around my wrists, my legs, my head. Lights, oh harsh brightness peering straight into my very being as if Heaven itself had consumed me. Sweat spilled down my temples and onto my tattered shirt, my uniform crumpled in a bunch across the room. Sweat? Blood? My heart pounded in its cage, not thinking of me, not of my safety. Pounding for my family. Wires, scalpels, syringes, guns, bullets, and knives, the rulers of lives. My body’s positioned in such a way that I can't look down to see how badly I might be hurt. I can't tell if the pain is physical or psychological. Questions. One after the other, followed by pulses of jolting fire though out my veins. They won’t let me die.

 The Train Chaser

"Dad!" Thump. Thump, thump, thump. It was beginning to get hard to tell whether the thump was my own heart or the train shaking and pounding along the tracks. My body jerked around in that God forsaken train, each man clutching pictures of their wives, kids, mothers, fathers, their lives.

"Dad!" Was that real? Am I the only one hearing that? It sounds like the cry of a soldier calling for help, or a child calling for his father amongst a crowd. I can no longer tell the difference.

"Daaaddd!" I jumped from the green leather seat as well as the other young men but they were all looking out the window, cursing bitterly. I checked my own window, there, over there, chasing the tracks, chasing the bullet. I pushed each man down into their seats as I made my way down the aisle to reach the end of the train. My son. He waved like a mad man lunging forward for the bullet meant for another.

"What are you doing here?! Go, go get out of here!" I screamed but my son was unfazed by my tone as he quickly sped up to touch my soon-to-be murderous fingers.

"No, Dad! Please, don't go!"

That's when my emotions breached the surface. I shook my head and he insisted to come with me and again, I shook my head. His feet were beginning to falter. The hand holding mine was nearly causing him to drag his face in the metal railings. I had to let go before the train went full speed. He had to slow down.

"You're going to get hurt!"

"Then take me with you!" My son was pleading; almost a man but luckily not.

Our fingers were slipping. Life was escaping.

"I love you!" Thump. Thump, thump, thump. Once again separate, miles already gaining from my son lying on the side of the tracks nursing a broken leg and bruised face. But, alive.

The First

All I can hear is my own heart pounding, my feet shifting in the sand, my chin resting on my arm while I squint into the scope of my gun. There was static coming from my radio and jumbled voices until I could clearly hear my Commander yelling for me to take the shot. I couldn’t. I knew that this bullet was meant for the man I had spent time stalking like Death but could I take his life? Widow his wife? Leave his children fatherless? The yelling ensued along with many other unkind words and I closed my eyes, allowing my finger to tighten over the trigger. I was Death. I came with my scythe and stabbed him in the heart, extinguishing what he had already misused. My first kill and definitely not my last. My team then went in, weapons at the ready as they fought their way inside to take control. I waited outside, frost nipping my lips and leaking down my throat. There was a hardness in my chest, a bitter feeling that I felt spread faster than the frost surrounding me. Movement eliminated. No more hesitation.

Capture

Night, again. My daughter’s doll tucked inside my cot was watching me like a guardian angel and yet the stitches up its sides still seemed to reflect my own. I attempted to sleep but also keep all dreams at bay, I need not dream what I live. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong time to sleep and found rudely woken in my own blood. Two young men, also from my tent, were signaling for me to play dead but my senses were heightened and I felt the need to protect my fellow soldiers, like family. It was a struggle to get my feet under me, more so to heave my battered body above, the world swimming as if I were under water. After stumbling many steps I pulled a knife from my boot and crept again like Death to create a graveyard. However, unlike Death, I am mortal. Bodies were scattered along the camp and others were being beaten, those who managed to escape most likely would not be returning.

“Don’t,” one of the young men pleaded but I moved on, unable to hold myself  back. I stepped beyond view of my guardian doll and leaped onto the back of the closest man, holding the blade to his neck. Beyond that, my memory fades, all that exists is pain.

Salvation

“Three.” I stepped forward and peered into the cold eyes that had tortured me and made me forever doubt I would see my family. I smiled broadly enough that the cracks in my lips began to bleed again and the scars on my cheeks framed my mouth. He pressed the gun to my chest while the men behind me extended their arms behind them, ready to strike me again with their whips. I took a step forward with my weakening legs, testing the man; there was nothing more he could do to me. Death began to be the only thing I craved. The whips brought me to my knees and the continuous blows forced me to push my face into the dirt. The two young men beside me tried to protect me like I had shielded them but the blows were turned on them and their faces were pushed into the ground as well, their fists clenched while they grit their teeth. This was supposed to be an execution, this was supposed to be frightening, this was supposed to be our end. I felt another blow along my back, the whip dragging between my hands tied behind my back as the man recoiled but I gripped it, cringing as the shard of glass ripped my palms. The man yanked and I looked up at their Commander before me, grinning like I had before. Then, I rolled with the whip still in my hands, causing it wrap around the man’s legs and pull him down. At that moment, I let go, only to suddenly see bullets raining down all around. Our salvation.

MIA

Three heavy knocks on the wooden door. A woman appeared, ghostly pale as she wiped her hands on her apron, realizing who he men were that stood on the steps with their hats in their hands. She shook her head, tears once again to maul her beauty. One of the men touched her elbow in attempt to steady her from collapsing to her knees, the shock already beginning to sink in without a single word uttered. Apologies were muttered under their breath as they tucked the paper into her folded hands.

“Mommy? Is it Daddy?” The daughter skipped to the door but began to step back, seeing three tall men decorated with military arms standing before her mother.

“No Daddy?”

One, Two, Three

One creaky wheelchair. Two red roses. Three weeping souls. I rolled with the two young men at my side, joking about what we had seen as to cope with what we had gone through. I peeked through the window at the front of my old house, now appearing less joyful than it used to. My wife was hunched over the kitchen table, stacks of paper in front of her. My son and daughter were nowhere to be seen. I rolled back to the front door and found myself hesitating. How could I, a man with no more fear, find the inside of my own home so daunting? I knocked four times but no one came to the door. No sounds, not even my wife’s melodic voice calling that it was okay to come in. After patiently waiting for one long moment, I opened the door and announced that I was home like any other day while my fellow soldiers helped me inside with the wheelchair.

“Daddy?” I heard my daughter call and her running steps but no matter how fast those little legs could run, she couldn’t beat her mother. With her hand covering her lips, she found the courage to smile and the strength to not cry for what had happened to me but out of happiness that I was home. I rolled in a bit farther, using the last of my energy, and put my hand behind her neck to bring her closer to me. Tears rolled down my own scarred cheeks as I smiled and kissed her cheek as I whispered, “I’m home.”

© 2015 BrynnaW.


Author's Note

BrynnaW.
Sorry for the length and that it's not as descriptive as my other writings but I hope you still enjoyed this. Thanks for reading!

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Added on April 21, 2015
Last Updated on April 21, 2015

Author

BrynnaW.
BrynnaW.

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My name is Brynna Wynne Wiley. Aka: BrynnaW. I'm supposed to tell all about myself right here but... I've done that before. Now, it's just about the writing. more..

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