A Soldier’s Resolve
Written by Chris Streetman
All I could see was desolation and despair, a city destroyed by war. The scattered bodies lay over the erected land. My vision clouds and the smoke sticks in my lungs. I gasp for breath. I manage to rise from the rocky terrain. Instinctively, I reach for the back of my head. The soft fabric of the flag reminds me who I am, why I am here. Despite the sorrow and suffering, I resolve to continue fighting. My country needs me, and I will not quit now. As long as I am needed, I will keep fighting the eternal fight to protect life, liberty, and happiness. That great freedom bought by war must now be preserved through war.
A thousand soldier souls cry out for peace. I know. I can hear them, for I am one of them. I fight for the day when all fighting will end. That great Nirvana. That unobtainable, unreachable, impossible Nirvana. I am caught in the eternal struggle, but I can make a difference. I will save whom I can and avenge whom I cannot. All the while chasing that impossible dream. Hoping beyond hope the fighting will end. I would search Heaven and Earth, even the depths of Hell, for a way to break the cycle. Is there no cure to the madness?! Maybe not, but I will keep searching for as long as my small spark of life allows me.
A piercing scream wakes me from my thoughts. My eyes scan for the source. In that instant, I forget everything. The whole world shrinks to two people: the injured woman and the hero come to save her. A spectrum of emotion flashes through her dark brown eyes. First, fear. Then sorrow. A small glint of hope. And back to fear. Attempting to comfort her, I drop my weapon. I turn out my pockets to show her I am hiding nothing. For some unknown, inexplicable reason, I want her to trust me. I am desperate for her trust. Her dark, olive face casts a shadow over my conscience. A wave of guilt washes over me with a stinging sensation more painful than tear gas. My mind returns to a constant daydream…
I assume the battle position as a monstrous, vaguely human figure rises to its full height. I draw my sword and stare into the monster’s face. The sunlight glistens on my sword. As I raise my weapon for battle, a sudden realization hits me like a sharp burst of wind. Something about this dream is different. My reflection in the sword has a rich, olive tone. My dark brown eyes shine with confidence. I charge toward the monster. In a flash of light, a blinding white replaces the monster’s crimson hue. His eyes are an empty blue.
Despite his shimmering skin, he radiates darkness: destruction and death. There is more light, a truer light in my dark eyes. The vision in my sword expands so I can see long black hair flowing down my scalp. This face is not mine. I scramble trying to figure out who I am. A terrifying thought crosses my mind. I cannot bear to look and yet I have no choice. I gaze up at the monster’s face and my fears are confirmed. The monster’s face is identical to my own. I stagger backwards trying to run, trying to escape my fate. I run but I cannot tear my gaze form the monster. I cannot escape him…I am him. Desperate to escape, I back away quckly and stumble straight off a cliff, realizing a second too late what I have done. Time slows down. Falling. How long have I fallen? Who am I? The hero? The villain. Time speeds up his process. The ground comes closer and closer. I close my eyes and prepare for the worst…
No thud. Nervous, I open my eyes. Those beautiful brown eyes now displayed worry. This is my fight. I help the woman to her feet and walk her to the nearest infirmary. I give her sips of water from my canteen when she seems parched. People of both races spit at us and cuss at us. I do not care. I know my destiny now. This is the first step in curing the madness. Everyone is human. To treat anyone as anything less is to condemn the world to never-ending war and eternal strife.
My country still needs me, but this woman needs me more. I will help her and return home. I must tell the others, show the others my discovery. These people. The citizens of this country. They are innocent bystanders in this bloody war. For the first time in my life, I do not care what anybody thinks. I take the woman’s hand. She smiles at me and I see a new emotion in her eyes: gratitude. The olive and the white mix together like an inspired palette. I will keep fighting. I must. I will fight for my country. I’ll fight for peace. I will fight for the human race. I will fight for every individual on this planet. My duty is to protect them, but I will go farther. I will heal them. I will stop the madness. I will start with this woman.
I turn to her and ask, “What is your name?”