My Last Battle
No. I thought, shooting in the general direction of them. I couldn't see, dust and sunlight burned my eyes. I could only hear the explosion of gunshots and bombs along with the screams of men. Some of the enemy, others of my allies, my friends. My body ached, we never had a moment to relax before we were on the move again. I could only smell death, blood and death. The heat was making me sweat, it was also making the stench worse. The nun to my right yelled and blood sprayed onto me from his direction. No, no, no! I screamed in my mind over and over again. I'm sick of being surrounded by blood! Of being surrounded by death! Our enemy are not people. They are pawns. Nameless, faceless, soulless pawns for someone. Someone was trying to kill us all. But no one knew exactly who that someone was. The man to my left was next to yell and again, blood sprayed onto me from that direction. I shook my head violently.
They're getting closer, I thought, they're getting closer they're going to kill us all they're going to kill us!
I'm about to die, I thought.
I looked behind me, looking for a way out and saw nothing. There was only the jungle that we had Been in for too long. I had been seeing the same green for too long. There was no way out. No where to hide- I looked down at the muddy ground and tears filled my eyes- I'm about to ﬁnd out so many questions people have had for so long, I thought, is there really a god, is there really life alter death? I thought about my life. Have I lived to the fullest? What are my regrets? I thought back to all the horrible things I had done In my life and hated myself in an instant. I never should have done all those horrible things. I would go back and change every mistake l have ever made if l could... l hung my head in shame. But I cant.
Someone tugged my arm. I spun quickly, not rising from my crouched position, ready to put a bullet between his eyes. I inunediately realized that they were an ally, wearing the same uniform that I was. The American flag, albeit dirty, was displayed proudly on the breast. I looked to the man's face and realized he was not only an ally, but a friend, on and off the battleﬁeld. He jabbed his thumb towards the jungle, a look of worry and hope on his face, pleading me with his eyes. He didn't bother to try and speak over the noise around us but he didn't have to,I knew what he meant. He wanted to run, and he wanted me to go with him.
It was dishonorable! It was wrong! It was against everything that I believe in- My grip tightened on my gun. But I cant die now. I thought of my wife, my high school sweetheart, and my daughter, who was three. She had been born with leukemia and we always said she must have an angel looking over her to still be here. We, I and my wife, never hid anything from her, she knew she was very sick and that the fact that she had lived this long already was nothing short of a miracle. But even with that in her little mind she still loved life, she especially loved singing. I remember what she said to me right before I left, "Be careful, Daddy. We can share my angel for a while, you need it as much as I do."she had looked so tired when she said that. I couldn't leave her especially. I decided not to think about what I was doing- I nodded to the man in front of me and he led me away from the chaos.
We didn't stand for hours, remaining crouched, slowly moving away from sure death. No one had seen us go, thankfully. If they had we would surely have been killed. When the gun ﬁre was only a faint pop in the distance,we both stood, but we didn't dare speak. we surveyed the ground, not wanting to get caught after trying so hard to get away.
I jumped when he tripped over a vine. We had been walking for what seemed like hours now, it was dark and we were surely miles away from anyone else. "You okay?" I said softly, my throat and mouth dry. He nodded and I offered him my hand which he gladly took. "I'm fine." He looked at my face, trying to read what I was feeling. I wasn't feeling anything. "We deserted them," he said ﬁnally. I looked quickly at the ground, focusing on a particularly big spider. "Yeah, I know." I wiped my eyes on my sleeve. trying to make it seem like I was wiping sweat from my brow, "But I just couldn't leave-" "I know." he put his hand on my shoulder reassuringly. "You did the right thing." I shook my head, not believing him but thankful for his support. My throat burned and I realized my mouth was dry as well. "Do you have any water?" He shook his head, "Sorry." I sighed.
He looked down, pretending to be interested in a patch of strange looking flowers. "I'm going to get home," he ﬁnally said, still not looking at me, "I'm going to get home before the baby comes. I don't care what people think of me for leaving them. I can't die without seeing my own child's face." His wife had announced the pregnancy just before we left. "How much longer?" I asked, no doubt he had been counting the days. "Just under 2 months" "Tony," he looked at me, he had tears in his eyes, I had never seen him cry before, "did we really do the right thing?" "I-" I shook my head and collapsed by a tree, "I don't know."
I heard faint sobbing and looked at him. I grabbed his shoulders and shook him violently, "Stop crying, why are you crying." "They're dead Tony. They're never going to see their families again. They're never going to hold their children again, the next time their kids see them it'll be at their funeral." He looked at me, shaking his head, "They might not even get that." "Which is why this was the right thing to do. Your baby girl will know what it feels like to be held by her father and to be loved. She will know what it feels like to have both her parents there for her. Don't you want that. " he nodded.
"We need to sleep." he said ﬁnally.
"If we don't sleep and they come looking for us then we'll be caught defenseless." I nodded. "Okay. We'll take shifts." he nodded, "I'll go first," I offered. He thanked me then propped himself up on the tree opposite me and quickly fell to sleep. I began to think of what he had said. He was right, no one would ever accept us. But he couldn't die now, not with a baby on the way. It would be easy for people to understand. But me, they wouldn't understand, my daughter has been getting worse lately and probably was already dead, and her mother, well, lets just say we haven't been getting along lately.
There's nothing to do when you're on watch duty but think, I was there was something else to do right now because I don't like the way my mind is heading. Somehow I came to the conclusion that my daughter must already be dead, and her mother was getting divorce papers in order, so, I wondered, what is there still to live for? I would be alone, I would have no one. I have no one. I'm going to die anyways, I thought, why go through the humiliation of being a deserter for nothing? I checked my gun, I had a few bullets lelt. I looked at the soil dirt and hunched over it, I stuck my finger into the mud and scribbled out this note: "I couldn't do it, I have nothing to live for, my daughter is dead and my wife has left me, I'm sorry. -Tony" I looked at the note and quickly added "P.s Tell everyone I'm sorry too-" I pressed the gun to the hollow between my jaw bones, the cold metal stinging my skin.
I glanced at the man in front of me one last time,we had been out here so long, I couldn't even remember his name. I couldn't remember what street I grew up on, or what my house number was, I couldn't remember what kind of pet I had back home, I couldn't remember my wife's name, I couldn't even remember my daughter's name I think it was Ella.
I pulled the trigger.
Oh yeah, her name was Elise.
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