Soldier Down (Short Story)

Charles ran his hand over the tops of the dry grass heads. The sun shone them into a golden field that stretched out before him. The indent just to his left was his comrade’s body, laying prone, muting the gold of the grass with dead-weight.

Well damn, this was it, he’d have to get up soon and bury this one too.

Gravedigger, that’s what he’d taken to calling himself. Charles crushed the head off a shoot of grass, feeling the seeds rolling between his fingers, falling away like an army in disarray. Why had he even sat down in the first place?

The answer was, because he was tired, so tired, and this field was beautiful right now, even with death resting in it. He could stay here forever. If he closed his eyes, the breeze on his cheek reminded him of home. When he looked up into the sunset glare, it brought back a surge of childhood memories, park days, chasing the rolling hills, falling at their heels as the sun dipped farewell, laying spread eagle in a cocoon of prickly comfort.

He took off his helmet first. The body armor took longer. Then he unloaded his gun, every last damn bullet.

He wouldn’t be digging any graves today.

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