Aftermath

By Christopher Willings

Aaron was dead. That was the first thought Jack had when he had awakened after the battle.

Aaron was dead. He was gone and he was never coming back.

As Jack laid there in the hospital ward, he wondered if his strength to fight had disappeared with his blood-brother. This wasn't Jack's war, no more than it was any civilian-back-home's war. Yet he was fighting it, not them. Aaron had been fighting it, not them. And those people back home would never give a damn the sacrifice that Aaron had made for them. They wouldn't know what a great man he was…what a staunchest soldier and friend he was. Hell, if they did, they still wouldn't care. These were the people Aaron had served and died for.

What the hell kind of world was this, Jack continually asked himself. Aaron was the strong one, not Jack. Jack was the one that should have died back there. Aaron was the one that believed in all of this, believed in the greater ideals of the country. Jack was simply a victim of circumstances. Where it not for a few bad choices in the past, Jack would be one of the very people back home he now despised. Jack had joined the military to die honorably, but instead he was left to continue fighting.

Aaron was dead. Fate was indeed harsh.

Jack had been found unconscious on the battlefield last night and taken to the hospital no more than a half-hour after he watched Aaron die. That was what they had told him anyway. Jack didn't really know.

He had woken up in the hospital hours after they moved him. He had some cracked ribs and a lot of bruises, but pain-killers took care of any problems they might be giving him. Other than that, there was nothing wrong with him. He had insisted upon waking up that he didn't need to be taking up the space in the hospital. But the tenacious doctors had told him they were in no shortage of space at the moment and Jack had to stay twenty-four hours for observations, just incase he had any injuries that weren't accounted for.

The smell of the hospital was too clean, too sterile for Jack to be comfortable in. Of course, deep down, Jack knew he was just trying to find some other excuse to hide the truth from himself. It would be a long time before Jack ever felt comfortable anywhere, if ever at all.

He could deal with the deaths of his other fellow soldiers…that was the grim reality of war. But the death of Aaron had shaken Jack like nothing he had ever experienced before. It had taken him completely by surprise. Jack had seemed too self-assured and confident yesterday. He had always told himself that there was a good chance Aaron wouldn't make it through this war, as the same went for Jack. So then why, Jack kept turning over in his head, was he so shocked over the death of his brother-in-arms?

Jack's unit had been decimated in the battle last night, which was another trauma he eventually knew he would have to come to terms with. But for now, Aaron's passing overshadowed all else. Repressed emotions weren't a healthy thing, and Jack tried to find any true feeling of horror over what had happened to the other men last night. But all he could find was the lifeless face of Aaron Wilson starring at him.

Jack wondered how he was going to go on without Aaron. It was through Aaron's courage and conviction that Jack was able to fight this war. In Aaron's presence Jack felt that his choice to join the army and to fight for his country's ideals had been a right one. That there had be something more to his being here than simply lack of motivation to pursue higher education. Somehow, through Aaron, fighting this war had just made sense. But now the dream was over. There never has been any sense when it came to war. Jack knew that now.