This is a short story inspired by recent events in my life.
He walked the hillside, in relative safety from the battles that raged on the other side of the ridge. He was protected by a sense of anonymity, he unknown to the madness that looked to take down anyone it could.
In the distance, he could hear the screaming and wailing of those unfortunate to be in the path of the fury’s destruction. Most of the voices belonged to victims he did not know, strangers who would live on as a statistic in someone’s register. Others were acquaintances, friends of friends who would perish in the battle and generate the appropriate moments of sadness before his march carried on.
The war claimed the lives of his father and grandfather, but that was so many years ago. Those were the deaths of older men who had lived full lives. Although sad and painful, they were somewhat expected, and they helped forge his life as he traveled the distance from those moments to where he found himself today.
Still he walked, hoping to remain in the shadows, escaping the combat others were fighting. Every now and then, shrapnel would land in his vicinity. It would cause him to pause, to reassess, to breathe a mixed sigh of sadness and relief. His thoughts were clouded with questions, questions that drowned out a continuous stream of prayer he held in his heart.
There was no rationalizing the circumstances in which he found himself. There was no making sense of the needless pain and suffering he’d seen others endure. No one was immune to tragedy, no matter how hard he tried to wish it all away.
Then in an instant, he was knocked to his knees. The pain was sharp and furious. It took him a moment to comprehend what had happened and what he was feeling. His left hand reached to his right arm, the location where he’d been grazed. It was not a direct hit, but it was a hit nonetheless. He became dizzy and unable to breathe. The wound was gaping and raw, and any sense of confidence was crushed by uncertainty and anxiety.
He felt the weight compound on his shoulders, down his back and into his knees. The nausea was a momentary distraction from the pain and confusion. He knew he was not immune, but this wasn’t supposed to happen to him. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, the unfairness that terrorized others finding its way into his journey.
He knelt, unable to move, unable to think. Unsure of what came next, he did the only thing he could. He prayed.