Leather Boots

He did not blink for fear of losing the lake. Usually, he stared numbly at his boots, but today he watched the lake, a lighthouse. He was home. He had traced the map on powder-stained palms for months, and now the landmarks—broomsweed, oak, and prairie—brushed his hands.

He chewed juniper berries, grimacing at the taste. The doctor ordered a pint a day, and he obeyed, though it didn't seem to be working. But things had to get worse before they could get better, right? The lake was the first sign of "better."

He could walk straight into the water, trade his uniform's tattered blue for the lake's Prussian, drown out the gunfire and screams and his own heartbeat.

Kicking off his boots, he plunged in.

They would find the boots cemented in mud, haul his body out, and conclude he had drunk himself to death. They would only be half right.