Saturday, January 30, 2010
A dragonfly landed on the cool surface for a brief respite, only to be chased away by the liquid flowing toward it. I lifted my head off my knees for the first time in hours to watch it fly lazily away. The movement caused me to yawn, leaking remaining tears from my eyes, tears I didn’t bother to wipe away. Once again my gaze fell on the body lying beside me, and it occurred to me I might dig a grave using the great knife standing erect in its chest. Despite knowing the body is but a casing, the soul of my comrade long gone, it was hard not to think of the body as him. It has his smiling jaw, his tussled hair, the tattoo on his right arm he was always tracing up and down and up and down. I let out a deep breath, trying not to cry again. Somewhere in the distance war cries still echoed, but I knew they were moving away from me as one army pursued the fleeing failures. That’s where I should be, complete cowardly failure I am. My mistakes were too numerous to forgive, my failure to send the bird, failure to make the armor, failure to be by his side, failure to protect his back, failure to take any further stance against the enemy once he fell. I was a filthy coward, a filthy traitor, a filthy cheat, a filthy deserter. Desire to be by his side overcame me, and I rolled to my side, scraping through the bloody mud, until I could rest my head on his shoulder. Its shoulder. Dammit. I buried my chin into his cold, stiffening skin, and reached a hand out to brush wind-blown dust from his face. Whether the body is a shell or what held the spirit most dear to me makes no difference to my feelings of loss, or affections to the physical form. I knew the world was in shock, at a standstill, and no one would come here for a long time. All the bodies, of enemies and friends, scum and brave, would lie here and rot. Was I to rot among them, another lost soul in a lost cause? A great trembling sigh ran through me, then I pushed myself up and looked to the knife. Twice as long as a butcher’s knife, the hand that wielded the knife in battle held it still in death. I reached for the cup and undid the knots to let the hand fall out, then I stood, hand still on the knife, and circled the body three times. “To peaceful rest you go,” I whispered, and violently yanked the knife from his chest. The body seemed to sigh, and I knew, though I’d been denying it, that he was gone from it. As the last rays of sun fell over the mountains on the bloody horizon, I gazed over the battlefield, and vowed that this time I will make a difference. This time I will move nations.