Wednesday, November 28, 2012

ANY WAR, ANY TIME by Zachary A. Shellman

A short story written by my son, Zach. 

It is quiet, it is so quiet. Everything seems to stop for the sunrise. Everything seems to become quieter until the sun breaks over the mountains in the East, as if the world were holding its breath.

As the sun rises it bathes everything in a rich orange light.

I think it strange how something so beautiful could happen here, in this place of death and destruction.

Some people take these things for granted, but not me. I see the beauty in these things, because I know it may be the last time I ever see them.

Nature is very persistent, you know. Nature knows when things aren’t right, and she tries to compensate for it in her own small way. For example, when the old building, the one I used to go to when I needed to think, was hit by an artillery shell, it was totally leveled, but, a month later there were flowers. They weren’t large and abundant. They were small and barely surviving, but they were there, and they were growing from the rubble.

Some other people don’t notice these things, like my brother. The only thing he notices is his rifle needs to be cleaned. He is a soldier, following his beliefs. Everyone has a right to their beliefs, but he is almost fanatical. He holds his beliefs in higher regard than sleep. He is only 16. He should not be concerned with fighting. He should be involved with girls, not worrying how much ammunition he should carry.

It’s all too crazy.

A gunshot. From where? Another one, coming from down the street. I see two people running down the street trying to dodge sniper fire.

I remember a time of peace, a time of quiet before the violence and the suffering. I remember a time when my Anka and I were walking down the road, just enjoying each other’s company. We were so happy. She was the most beautiful, the most gentle, the sweetest creature in the world. I loved her more than anything else. But she is gone now. She was killed during the first explosions of the artillery shells that hit this once peaceful city. I think that she was the lucky one, she died before she could learn how cruel human beings could be to each other.

It all seems so far away now, a thousand years away, the memories are like ghosts that fade out of the present time.

I see more clearly now the people running from the gunshots. They are almost directly below me in the street now. One of them has fallen, no he’s been shot. Who is he? I make my way down from the top floor of the deserted building. I reach the bottom floor now, but he has his back to me. I can’t tell who it is. He is trying to move into the cover of the building across the street. I yell, "Hey!" to get his attention. He rolls over and points his pistol in my direction. I see his face. It’s my brother! He recognizes me and the most sorrowful look comes to his face. I run to him, forgetting the bullets for a moment, and drag him to the other side of the street.

We are almost there when I am knocked to the ground, and an intense burning sensation rips through my chest. I ignore it, my only thought to get my brother to safety. I pull him to the doorway of the building and examine him. He has been shot through the thigh. As I remove my shirt to use as a tourniquet, the pain in my chest comes back and forces me to stop. I look down and my shirt is covered in blood. I don’t know how, but I grit my teeth through the pain and tie my shirt around my brother’s leg.

I am able to sit back now. I notice my mouth has gone completely dry, and the pain in my chest is worse with every breath. The ghosts of the past are coming back now, my tenth birthday, the day I first met my Anka, the day I graduated from high school. So many days past. So many days yet to come. Everything is suddenly growing darker, the pictures are fading from my eyes, everything is quiet once again. A light grows before me, I can’t look, it’s too bright. And then I am standing next to Anka, and my parents are there saying I saved my brother’s life. He will live a long life, because of me. We walk toward the light and I know I will be happy here.

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