Once Upon A Time: The Soldier

A crawling soldier
A crawling soldier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once upon a time there was a soldier. He wore a ragged uniform, and he staggered across the desolate landscape littered with shrapnel and corpses.
The soldier had been knocked unconscious by an explosion and struck his head, so it was no wonder that his unit had moved on without him. But he wondered at the silence on the battlefield. How could they have advanced so fast he couldn’t even hear them anymore?
As with any soldier, the soldier moved forward when in doubt. He slid down into the next trench, and suddenly faced an enemy soldier. Gripping empty air, the soldier faced his enemy. Both of them seemed to have left their guns behind them. Both seemed to have head wounds that stained their hair and faces.
Without his gun, the soldier reached for his knife. It too, was missing. He saw the other soldier searching his pockets and then the ground for some sort of weapon. One of them would die this day, somewhere behind the lines of battle.
The soldiers looked all around for a weapon. Seeing nothing, the soldier scrabbled around in the mud beneath his feet. As he saw his enemy do likewise, he hurled a handful of mud at him to distract him. His enemy took the hit squarely in the face and responded with mud of his own. Quickly the two men were pelting each other with mud and laughing. Yes, laughing because their enemy looked so foolish covered with mud.
When they were finished, both men looked at one another. They were panting and exhausted, covered from head to toe in mud. Suddenly it didn’t matter which side they had been on.
The soldier reached out his hand in greeting and said his name. His enemy replied. Both exchanged looks. Neither knew where they were, on which side of the battle lines. The soldier mimicked handcuffs and pointed back and forth between the two of them. “Yes,” said his enemy, “we’ll be each other’s prisoners.”
As the two men advanced toward where they thought the lines should be, they both began to hear the explosions of the front lines. A convoy came by, and it was clear that the soldier’s enemy was winning. He put out his hands to his new friend and together they walked into the headquarters to process him as a prisoner.
After the war, the soldier sought to leave his defeated country and move to his enemy’s country for work. To his surprise, his application was accepted. He had been sponsored by a businessman in the enemy country.
When they greeted each other off the boat, the soldier was only partially surprised to see his enemy. Both of them looked different than they had. The soldier looked poor and his enemy looked wealthy.
It wasn’t until years later and the soldier had learned his new language that he was able to ask: “Why did you sponsor me?” “Because,” said his now longtime friend, “I knew I could trust you with my life.”


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