The Way It Used To Be

The small boy looked out to sea; the wind swept his hair backwards, he could taste the very salt in the air, it was bliss.

He ran through the battle field, he watched as many of his own squad were cut down by bullets or spikes, it was chaos.

The beach was the only place he could escape to, it was his home, his best friend. The sandy texture was the texture of friendship, or freedom to him.

What was he fighting for? Freedom. Freedom kept humanity free and sane; any man would crack if he had his very rights and freedom stripped away like dirty rags of clothing.

The boy stuck out his tongue, the spray of the sea landed on it; he tasted it all, salt, sea and most of all, freedom. If he could choose one place to live, it would be there, on that beach.

He saluted as the flag was pulled over the coffin, his commanding officer dead. Another one would be taking his place soon, another person to take another bullet, this was a daily routine now, and he himself had many scars.

The boy threw his arms out to his sides and let himself fall backwards into the sand. He placed his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. The sun would burn him in this heat, but he didn't care, a small amount of sunburn to a day of beautiful air and the sound of the calm sea. It was worth that one small risk.

Thirty years later he looked back at the sea, it was filthy, covered in muck and human waste. His commanding officer was a short distance away, chewing on a cigar and trying to fix the radio. They had taken shelter from the bombardment below the cliff, for a fire they had the remains of a burnt out aerial recon unit, for food they had the remains of their rations.

Only three had survived: himself, his commanding officer and another shaking Private. The Soldier remembered the way it used to be, no civil war, no death, no fighting or weapons of mass destruction, a time of bliss and freedom, but that time was gone, this was now. The Soldier remembered this beach, he would gladly die for it, it was his home away from home, his best friend as a child.

The Soldier turned around as his Commanding Officer repaired the radio, it cackled and a voice was heard. "Alpha one? Alpha one? Do you copy? We are regrouping at checkpoint Zulu, we have driven the rebels back, we have a straight shot to London…" then the radio died out again. The Soldier walked up to his Commanding Officer. He threw away his cigar and nodded to the Soldier, the Solider nodded back. The Commanding Officer then nodded to the shaky Private, he also nodded back.

The Commanding Officer pulled on his battle helmet over his scarred face, its visor was completely smashed showing his piercing eyes. The Soldier pulled on his battle helmet, its visor was still intact but its entire surface was covered in dents and scratches. The Private had no helmet; instead he tied a dirty rag around his head to make himself feel involved.

The Commanding officer finally nodded again and they all moved out, the Soldier took one last look, remembering his childhood; this is what he was fighting for, freedom against rebels, those who would take it and destroy it, this was his home and he would defend it.

The boy stared up into the sky, the sun was setting, the sky was orange. The boy smiled and for the first time wondered what his future would have in store for him.