Step in sync, the column of riffle wielding young men hurrahed in defiance of the bitter truth: that not all would return.
Would any see dawn?
A nation at war. The differences had proved too strong to be peacefully resolved.
Might, would now prove right. In the midst of the column, Private Jeremiah marched.
Back home, grandpa gazing into darkness, counted shadows, questioned himself: “Will he return?”
The Independent publication said the army’s causalities were many, but the State run daily claimed causalities were few.
Which was true?
As for Jeremiah, he had the day before, bumped onto his commandant’s file, and reading the same State daily, shivered at government propaganda.
Did they know what it meant to be cut off from safety, sanity?
He felt angry, wished for dawn to desert, and just, just...
Such brewed his anger; he was only jerked back into consciousness of an enemy just struck, by a sharp whoosh past his ears, followed by a boom and a rat-tat-tat.
About him, comrades scampered.
Jeremiah’s longest night had started.
He remembered grandpa’s words, “Return to us!”
And Julia’s, his betrothed, and pregnant. “Return to your child!”
He could not fail them.
Reminisces aside, he fired his riffle with abandon.
Against him, a comrade fell, and then another and another…Jeremiah was losing count, when pain pierced his side. His eyes drowsed, and his legs buckled, felling his body into a void until recently, flat ground.
Hours later, he felt a hurting sensation seep through his veins, and waking up, closed his eyes again in pain as in denial.
Nearby, a bird hummed; the only sound heard. Jeremiah, regarding the eastern sun with teary eyes, prayed for the young men fallen fighting a senseless war.
“Grandap, Julia. I am coming home.”
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