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Examiner
  • When this is over

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  • Looking down from its vantage point, normally you would see a rough barren patch of ground, brown and hard like a scab, all of nature torn away leaving only straggly strands of razor wire like old gray hairs running along he deep scars that zigzagged across the battlefield. But on this day, all it could see was a thick meringue of fog; fog made even more dense by gun smoke and ice crystals that hung in the still air. Under the fog, men waited. Some wrote letters and some slept dreamlessly. Still others worried and some used long bayonets to make a shallow mark in the frozen earth wall of the trench. A mud calendar of misery and loss, the days kept without thought or order, there was no weekday, no month, not even a holiday, only a mark in time. That’s why no one knew what day it was. The only thing they knew or cared about was that it was quiet, and for them that was enough. As the quiet dragged on, someone, as they always did, spoke these words. “Ya know what I’m gonna do when this is over? I’m gonna take a bath. But, not just any bath. I’m gonna take a bath that’ll last at least a week!” “Oh yeah,” said another. “Me, I’m gonna eat! Eat till I pop, turkey and steak and ham.” He licked his lips as he spoke. Still another said, “Me, I’m gonna sleep, not this close your eyes and die kind of thing we do, but sleep with the windows open to let in all the noise of the city. Sleep with dreams. Sleep that means something!” “Me,” another said. “I’m gonna drown myself in booze. I can’t wait to feel it burning my throat. Hell I’m even looking forward to hangovers. Anything other than this numbness.” As they all talked, one man said what they all had been too afraid to say. “Ya know what I’m gonna do when this is over? I’m gonna go home! Just go home.” On the other side of that barren field, the same conversation was going on. The same words were spoken. While from its vantage point, high in the night sky, a single star looked down.
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