The Soldier


by Kay D Ziegler

Dawn was just breaking. Misty morning light filtered through the opening of a make-shift tent. Its inhabitant was already awake, staring at the dew dripping from the barbed wire as if reminding him of the drudgery hike planned this afternoon. Sleep had abated him the night before and so he lounged on his cot preparing to do something he had been meaning to do – write a letter home. This task was scarier than any other thing he had to face.

 With his head bent over a sheet of wrinkled paper, the dim light of a lantern glinted against his buzzed  hair. In his hand he held his pen apprehensively above the unfinished letter.  To My Dearest Mother was all that was written on the creased paper. That was as far as he had gotten.

Staring at those words, he twirled his pen. The letter had been planned out in his head.  He wanted to ask about his dad.  Was he still angry? Had his sister given birth yet?  Could gran please give Prince, his beagle, a hug and a pat?  But, he changed his mind and decided none of that was important.  None of those questions would be asked. The letter wouldn’t be close to the original plan.  Instead, he would let his heart write what he needed to say. His hand shook as he pressed the pen tip to the paper.  And with gentle strokes, the young man began to write.

            War. Peace. They are two sides of the same coin. There is a fine line that distinguishes enemies from friends. Friends can become enemies and enemies may become your comrade in arms ever so quickly.

            Things are never as simple as they first appear. Stepping out onto the streets you don’t know what you’ll be forced to face or when a confrontation will occur. A friendly face might be that of an enemy’s.  A perceived enemy might become your friend. You just never know, mom.

            The battlegrounds of life are filled with desolation. However, hope glimmers with a kind act of a charitable person, a smile can brighten the grayest of days, hearing ‘thank-you’ from a child  is like listening to the choir sing . Mixed with the angry scowls of hate and menace there are also kindly smiles that beam happiness and love.

            I gotta go. I look forward to the time when I’m able to come back home. I don’t know when that will be but soon,  I hope.  I know dad doesn’t believe what I’ve done is right or see that my lifestyle the proper one. Maybe he’s right. But, I need to stand up for myself and my passions. I’ve gotta to do what I feel’s right – like any soldier should and does.

                        Your loving  son,

                                    Charlie

He read the letter over slowly. Satisfied, he folded the letter in half and placed it into a preaddressed envelope. Charlie stuffed it into his back pocket as he stood. As he left the tent, he was prepared to face anything, but expecting nothing much to happen .

The young man trudged down the dusty streets with his head bowed low in thought. Charlie thought about his life up until now. He thought about his place in this world. He wondered about the future and what would happen in the weeks and months to come. He even thought about the future events that might be in store for him. He’d like to get married and start a family someday. He didn’t know if that would happen. Charlie smiled as he imagined coming home from work and being greeted by his kids, his dog, and his partner.

Because of his daydreaming, the young man was caught off guard. He heard the bullet whizz behind him only a second before it hit. He had no time to get out of the way of the unwelcomed bullet. There was no time for an apology from the shooter to the shot.

The newspapers called it friendly fire.  To the papers, Charlie was just another man – another soldier. There was nothing friendly about the shooting, but the gun-toting clerk did get his money back. Charlie’s father finally accepted him.  In the end, there are always sacrifices. 

 

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Writers Bio

I was born running. On September 15, 1986 I was introduced to this world (foot first). I was early, but not small (good size and weight) and my father claimed I was blue-haired and black-eyed. Turns out, I was black-haired and blue-eyed. However, the former version sounds much more interesting! I’ve always been a unique person. I embrace that fact whole-heartedly. My quirks make me who I am.  My mother realized early on that I was asperger autistic and started working with me. When I was a week old, I was making eye contact with a circle, which I started to trace with my finger. Then, when it was time for me to talk, my first words were ‘vacuum’ and ‘I-C-E, ice’. Indeed, I spelled the word before saying it. As I continued to speak, I created words and phrases of my own. ‘I’ll be bald’, ‘bye-brow’, ‘minger finger’, and ‘I oo’ were just a few of the interesting things I said in my youth. By the time I was school-aged, my mom home-schooled me. It wasn’t because of my autism (although I did benefit from the one-on-one work) that my mother taught me. The schools couldn’t promise I wouldn’t have milk (and I had a bit of a milk allergy). I did ballet, attempted to learn piano, and volunteered at the hospital, thus I had a well-rounded life. I even attempted going to Jr. High. The school lost me, I had to choose my own homeroom, and I learned nothing, plus I got bullied (although, I didn’t know it and the girls stopped). One good thing came out of Jr. High. I discovered I loved writing. I started creating stories with friends. We’d act out plays and work on all sorts of projects together. I believe that my autism helped shape my creativity and spurred my love of storytelling. However, I didn’t realize I could make a career out of writing at that time. It was during my undergraduate years, I noticed my passion for this craft and wanted to be a professional writer, thus after I finished my B.S., I went on to get my MFA in creative writing. Currently, I am an English Composition professor and MA Goth Studies student.


Inspirational ImageThe Sky Out Of Reach by Lisa Solonynkoby Lisa Solonynko

Pieces Inspired by this Image

'Prison Ghost Tours, Inc.'
by Adam Kotlarczyk

'Memories In A Snapshot'
by Agnes Clarke

'A feeling between us'
by Cath Barton


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