I used to write short stories a lot. I mean, I used to write A LOT. In the past few years, I really haven't done much, and I didn't realize how much I missed it until I broke through my nervousness and sat down to do this one. Now, it's not some of my best work, (I'm not trying to be modest, I know it's not some of my best.) but it was fun just the same. So I thought I'd share it.
BATTLEFIELD (copyright 2012 by Faith McQuinn)This wasn’t my first battle, but that never mattered. Every single one had my blood pumping, my pulse racing. Fear and honor and sheer desire for survival flooded my brain and every bit of me just worked to survive. Captain yelled for us to take the German tanks. I pulled a grenade off my belt, yanked out the pin and went to throw.
I didn’t even see the soldier shoot, but I felt that damn bullet bite right through my wrist. I saw the grenade, pin still in my mouth, drop from my limp hand and roll towards my platoon, my friends. I didn’t think; I just flung myself into the air towards the thing. The bright flash came with no warning. Was I too late? Had it gone off before my body could shield it? I had tried. God, forgive me, I had tried.
The light faded slowly. There I was, flat on the ground. The battlefield was quiet. I had been too late. Everyone was dead, and I’d lost my hearing. But no...wait. It wasn’t quiet. I could hear birds singing gorgeous melodies. I could hear the rustle of leaves on trees blowing in the cool breeze.
I opened my eyes. This was no battlefield. This was the meadow. A meadow I knew all too well, there was no doubt. The Sycamore my father planted when I was born stood stoically on the edge by the fence surrounded by Irises my mother loved. I saw the stone path leading to the farmhouse. My home. I hadn’t seen it in years, but it looked just as I remembered.
I slowly stood up, and it was like floating. My body felt light; my heart felt nothing but peace. I wanted to run to the house, but I knew to take my time. Soak everything in. The sky was cloudless and perfectly blue. The sun warm but that breeze felt wonderful. The air smelled of Irises and grass and dirt.
There were suddenly tears in my eyes. Not tears of sadness--I couldn’t at the moment remember what sadness was. These were tears of sheer joy. I spent my childhood in this place, and it wasn’t always cotton candy and ice cream, but I had some wonderful memories. Memories that make a man who he is.
This is Eternity?
“Yes.” I should’ve been surprised someone answered, but I wasn’t. I turned slowly to see her standing there, just as I knew she would be. “Hello, Billy.” Just as beautiful as the day we met. Her hair pulled back from her exquisite face. Those astonishingly bright hazel eyes stared back at me--stared through me. There were no scars marring her face now. She was perfect.
“Anne.” Barely a whisper. The tears flowing freely now. I extended my hand ever-so slowly. I couldn’t rush; I hadn’t touched her face in five years. My hand cupped her cheek as if it was made just to do that very thing. She leaned into it and placed her hand over mine.
“I’m so happy to see you,” she said. I was ecstatic, but I could find no words. I needed to just keep touching her. I leaned in. Our noses touched, then our foreheads. I breathed her in--lavender and Ivory soap. The familiarity of it brought a smile. Our lips touched. An innocent kiss just as the first I gave her on her doorstep ten years before. Then I kissed her again, this time with more passion, more desire. She felt like home. Her arms wrapped around me tightly.
“I love you, Anne. I’ve missed you so much. I love you. I--”
“Bill?” I was on the ground. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. Hands roughly turning me over. “Bill! Bill! Can you hear me?”
I opened my eyes. The field was quiet. Not the quiet I wanted though. This was war-quiet. Men were moaning and mumbling. Weapons were clacking, and boots were softly trudging across the frozen ground. I was back.
“The grenade?” I managed to breathe out as I tried to sit up. Searing pain shot up my arm. My wrist.
“A dud. Woo, boy, you were lucky. God wasn’t quite ready for you,” Harrison half smiled at me.
“Yeah.” A laugh. That’s all I had, a weak little laugh. The fingers on my good hand grasped the ground, just hardened mud. No grass. No Irises. No gentle breeze.
God, I was ready. Take me back.