Being Brave


Bravery manifests in many guises. John was tired of fighting–he was assigned to the front line–and was terrified. But, like all his comrades, he put up a brave front. Besides, he would never let his side down, by playing the coward. He wanted respect and men in the front usually got it. It’s basic, the respect, that is. So was the fear. He had enough; he was drafted, he had no choice so here he was, some people in his platoon still left, and all he could think of was he going to be next? It was dark, he had no idea where he was and didn’t dare to light a match. The smell of decomposing flesh was nauseating. He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a piece of Wrigley’s spearmint gum. He unwrapped the wrapper and carefully folded it into the smallest possible design he could and put it back in his pocket. Sort of like  a keepsake. Something to remember this moment by.  He was chewing the gum when he heard  rounds of fire coming from the north: enemy direction. He hit the ground the same time that his buddy was hit. The firing stopped. He felt icy cold and the deafening silence was unreal. It was then he noticed that everyone around him had been shot and he was completely an utterly alone. The illumination in the sky was sufficient to show the carnage.

He put his hand in his pocket and felt for the wrigleys spearmint wrapper that he had folded umpteen times. He felt secure by the touch of it, a moment of normalcy in what was an insane situation*. War sucks. His dreams of coming back a hero, medalled, to show off to his family, friends, girlfriend was insignificant. What was he supposed to do now? He rubbed the wrapper between his thumb and forefinger; thinking, thinking. In shock and, not a soul in site. The quiet was relentless.

So he did what any brave men would have done. He took his rifle, stuck it into his mouth and blew his brains out. The last thing he remembered before pulling the trigger was swallowing the piece of paper.

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