|One More Soldier
Author: Skylarquing PM
The story a ceremony for a fallen soldier returning to Canada from 10 people's point of viewRated: Fiction K - English - Hurt/Comfort/Drama - Words: 1,419 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Published: 04-28-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2911243
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
When the casket was brought from the plane out onto the runway the mother scoffed, 'playing bagpipes at this ceremony? We are of English descent, of course they would ruin such a moment. I'm sure they couldn't do any better, they couldn't even keep my oldest son alive, it's truly a wonder there are any still kicking.'
As they were following behind the wooden box containing his brother he couldn't help but wonder what was so special. He had died, sure but what's the big deal? He wasn't that great in the first place. He always stole the show, captain of the football team? Whatever. Straight A student? Yeah, that got him real far in life now didn't it. He brushed his straggly blond bangs from his eyes, and continued with the others.
They came to a stop and a fellow colleague was about to say a few words as the father watched his youngest son. He had always been so proud that his son had joined the Canadian Armed Forces though he knew it was probably hardest on the youngest. They had so much in common, even the unconscious twitch with their identical hair. The only way, when he was first told, he could see to deal with it was to stomp his foot and cry 'NO' until they told him that it had all been for a laugh and that his son was coming back for Christmas. That day had never come.
The crowd was staring up at him, waiting for the nice things he had planned to say about his best friend, the man he had joked with and drank with these last four months. They had plans for when they got home, big plans. They knew everything about each other and when the bomb had gone off and he had been thrown, in one piece he thanked the heavens. He got up to look for his partner to find him amongst the trees; he was dying even when he spoke his last words. The best way he found to cope with it was to tell himself that once they got back to base someone would fix him up, he'd be in tip top shape and they'd be out later that day. And now as he was standing before the family he didn't want to speak, he didn't want to make it real.
The chain link fence is all that separated him from the mourners, he stood and watched as another brave man was killed trying to do his part in making the world a better place. He pushed his face right up to the ten foot barrier trying to hear the man's speech. "I'm just like him aren't I? I have the potential, I'm smart and brave, I know I could do it. We would have been the greatest of friends had he made it out alive. It's really a shame." He finished his monologue and stepped away from the fence comparing every way in which they were similar.
On the plane that had come back to Canada there was one other man, he stood apart from the family chain smoking his way through his bran new pack of Marlboros. He couldn't stop wondering what would happen if the family found out he had a part in the death of their son. He had tried to stop the truck before it left. Clearly he hadn't tried hard enough; he should have gone after them. He dropped the butt and looked around. He ground his foot over it to extinguish the nonexistent flame and patted the sides of his legs. He was starting to sweat, he was sure karma would come around and he would be next to go. Standing with them was almost too much. He picked up another cigarette, put it to his mouth and lit it. After another long breath he started to calm.
The General had stepped up to the make shift podium and shuffled his papers. This was the worst part of his job; he never knew how to justify losing a man or a woman. These people had trusted him with their most precious possession and he had blown it. He cleared his throat and shuffled his papers some more. He knew the families didn't want apologies because they always told him 'we know it's not your fault' but nothing made him more frustrated. It was his fault, completely and unconditionally his fault! Why could he not be the one to die in their place, he was old, he already had a family and they had their own families. His wife had died with Alzheimer's five years back and she couldn't even remember his name five years before that. But now, he is the old man standing before a pregnant wife with no husband, a mother and father witnessing the worst thing imaginable, their own child's death and the a younger brother who is shaken by his loss. He cleared his throat and shuffled his papers again; this time though he took a deep breath, the hardest part was always starting.
The family looked over to see a man drop his cigarette, a Marlboro if the brother was correct. The man started jogging over to them and interrupted the General's speech. "That's it; I have had just about enough of all of you blaming me for his death. Don't you think I am going to miss him too? I tried, I tried so hard to stop them from leaving but of course they wouldn't listen to me once the General gave orders. But you are all sitting here so smug and hating me. Don't you worry, I hate myself enough." The family was stunned, what was this man talking about? He was yelling and screaming at them and making absolutely no sense. The wife got up and walked over to him with her arms held wide. The man stopped his ranting; the gesture of kind acceptance was one he hadn't expected. He fell into her embrace and sobbed.
Sitting at home and watching the news was a past time no teenager would own up to but this ceremony, from the most recent fallen soldier, was really touching. There was the emotion lying beneath the surface, the kind that makes your eyes fill with tears. She was lounging on the couch with the bowl of ice cream that would soon be melted in the summer heat. She watched the wife hold her arms out to a man who had just been yelling at them. That kind of woman does not deserve this, and instantly the scene before her changed. She was watching a sort of rain forest where a man was running behind a heavy duty jeep. The driver's eye was caught and he slowed for the other man to catch up. "You-you can't go. Just wait." The runner was gasping for breath but the time the jeep's occupants took to decipher the words was just enough. Approximately one hundred feet ahead of them there was an explosion that rocked the bases of the trees all the way up to where they had stopped. And again the scene changed, "I said Are You Coming?!" The girl shook her head when she saw the family mourning again and followed her little sister outside. The ice cream had melted anyway.