“Where are we going?” one of the soldiers asked.
Sgt. Nicholas didn’t answer. He just kept walking. And we all walked behind him. Skinny and hungry and dirty. We walked on a path, in between two sets of very tall grass, near another forest. No one said anything, and all you would hear was the dirt rubbing up against the boots of the soldiers. That sound would stick in my mind, like a song. I would hear it so many times, I learned who’s boots were who’s just from listening so much. The quiet and peace sound of this beautiful place that had something so horrible happening in it, interrupted by the sound of the boots. But I liked it. That sound. It was something to remember, but then, did I want to remember this place? Maybe I would want to remember the beauty, the peaceful sound. But everything else. Everything else was something I didn’t want to remember, but I knew I would.
“Great,” Mcouskey interrupted the noise, “We’re headed toward another forest. I better get spared again.”
I looked back and laughed, and so did another soldier.
I opened my mouth to say something, something that would have made the soldiers laugh. Something that would make them smile, and feel a bit of joy but I didn’t get to, because at that moment, the sound of the boots rubbing up against the dirt was interrupted by the sound of a weapon. Gun. A rifle. And soon the bullet of that rifle went into the temple of Edward Mcouskey.
I remember his eyes. Those eyes. I will never forget. Those dark green eyes that at that point of which the bullet hit his temple, opened so wide they were about to pop out. And his mouth opened just a bit, where you could just see the slight yellow of his teeth. And at that moment, I was shot also. Inside. My soul was shot.
Everything around me was melting. Was exploding. I saw my family. I saw everyone I knew flash in front of me. Those eyes, oh those eyes. They were still there. I could still see them. And the brains. Blood. Screams. Cries. I could hear everything. I could see everything. Everything was flashing in front of my eyes. My eyes. At that moment I wished so badly that I could switch eyes with him. I wanted to switch so that I wouldn’t have to look at them. They scared me. Tortured me. Made me drop my weapon and fall to the ground. And as I fell I fell down a million stories. And at the same moment I was falling, a ball gained in my stomach, and got bigger as I fell and hit the ground. The world was nothing at that point. I wasn’t here or in space. I wasn’t anywhere. Everything blurred and colors vanished. Trees fell down and the plants died, along with half of my soul. Half of my soul seeped out of my nose and ran away with the breeze. I was nothing now. Nothing. I couldn’t see, smell, taste, touch, or hear anything. I couldn’t feel, and soon I felt that knot in my stomach get so big it decided the only way out was to exit through my throat and out of my mouth. And everything came out. Everyone I knew. Everything I had seen or heard. People, plants, animals. Tears. Crying. Sadness, Happiness. And it all fell onto the ground and was washed away with my tears. I screamed and howled and I closed my eyes and didn’t open them. I wanted to scream curses and bad things but I couldn’t. All that came out were howls, and after I stopped I moaned and so many tears flowed out of my eyes and down my face. Dirt was washed away from my face. But I didn’t want it to be. I wanted that dirt on my face. This is what I had become. This is where I was. What I was doing. What I had seen. So I opened my eyes, and it hurt. I looked up at the sky to see the clouds, but there were no clouds, so I watched the sky, but there was no sky, so I watched the sun. But there was no sun, so I closed my eyes and listened, and hated the sound. I then moaned one last time before I fell to the floor head first, tears still washing the dirt from my face. I lay there, in my own vomit and tears and sweat and fear. I looked at my friend. He was staring back at me. Telling me. Telling me to let go. To keep going. To keep listening to the sound of the boots.
Age 12, Grade 7
MS 51 William Alexander