All For The Glory

Feb. 21, 2009.

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War was never meant to be a beautiful thing but eventually you find yourself anticipating the life of a soldier. You've been told the facts and the horrors, but you are blinded by the prospect of being your country's hero. You want to feel alive, you want to be free of your everyday chores and your life at home. You want to be someone that children look up to and you want to be in future history books. You dream of fame and adventure.

And so you enroll.

It may just be your grave but you wouldn't know because you're young and free and you've just been deployed. You're ready, except you're not. Eventually you'll figure out that the glory you'd pictured isn't worth it, but by then it may be too late.

--

You're the only woman in your platoon. The men give you expressions that clearly say you won't last long. They taunt and trick you mercilessly but you do your best to ignore them. Your captain is a nice man, older, who sticks up for you and shows you around and explains everything with a calm sort of patience. You okay, soldier? is his customary greeting.

So far, no action. The trenches are being dug and the day is bright. You drink from your canteen and wait.

You don't have to wait long.

--

There are gunshots that seem to ricochet in the blank columns of your mind, echoing and never fading, always buzzing. Shells explode left and right and above you. You don't know what's happening, your head is whirling, and you feel like you're going to be sick. Suddenly, he's there – not your captain, but one of your nicer comrades – and he's staring at you with a gruff kind of worry that instantly has you on edge. You stare into his eyes and it takes a moment to register that yes, he is actually talking to you. You feel the confusion hazing your mind, much like the poison gas that had fell many of your new friends and rivals. Your hands begin to shake and you fumble to keep a hold of your gun as he stares you down.

"Hey, you okay?!"

You expect his words but can't hear him over the rushing of bullets and the blood pumping in your ears. It's frighteningly silent, but you can see things flying and people screaming and it should be loud but it's not. It begins to scare you and your mouth moves to some language that you can barely recall in your confusion. "Y-yeah, I - !"

Then he's not there any longer and all you can see is blood and a crumpled heap at your feet. It's not too dark yet so you're able to see his eyes staring up at you and in that moment you know it's going to haunt you as long as you live. Your vision begins to blur and you lurch to the side just into time to empty your stomach of the little rations you'd eaten over the past few days. Your fingers scrape the dirt for purchase, searching for a way to get away from the empty corpse that had been speaking to you not moments ago. The trench had been a safe place at first, something that had reminded you of your childhood forts. It had been a comfort; now it was your prison. The rain left puddles past your ankles and made the sides slick with mud. It smelled of death and you were surprised this was the first time you'd been sick.

Absently you picture yourself: covered from dirt, head to toe; smelling of something worse than garbage but not as bad as the bodies around you; expression haggard and worn…in one word, horrible. And when the whistle suddenly sounds from farther down the line, you can almost feel the blood draining from your face.

You're able to scramble over the top of the trench after a few long moments of struggling and vault across the ground as fast as possible. It's hard, since a part of your mind is screaming, telling you to go back, but you proceed on with the men on either side of you. Gunshots echo and people begin to fall around you. You barely avoid tripping over a body and watch for more carefully. The ground is no longer firm, but made of mud and water; it's slippery and smells like a swamp. The enemy trench isn't too far, and you're not surprised that most of your comrades have fallen already.

You are surprised, though, of the fact that you were still standing.

Momentary panic engulfs your mind, and your footsteps falter as you ponder what to do once you reach the enemy trench. In that moment of hesitation, you see an enemy angle his gun towards you, and your side explodes in flames of pain as he presses the trigger. You're sent to your knees, and your hand presses weakly to your side. Your vision begins to fade into darkness as the noise around you lowers to a dull roar that you hardly hear. Suddenly, you're very calm.

The last thing before you see before you hit the ground is another man falling beside you, and the irrational thought that maybe the men in your platoon were right.

--

A long time later, it seems, you open your eyes. A figure leans over you, and you stare in confusion as your captain peers down at you anxiously.

"You okay, soldier?"

And you begin to laugh in a distressed state of delirium as he explains that you were the only one to come out of it alive of your entire platoon. You're sent back home the following month and as you watch the camp fade away, listening to the gravel crunch beneath the jeep's tires, you think to yourself who's laughing now? when in reality, no one was.

(Because war was never a beautiful thing, and now you could understood that.)

--

Something for English. :) Hope you like.