Flame, cool, sea, burn pt. 3
The battlefield was different than Joseph imagined. It smelled like burnt flesh and smoke and blood. They took them there in a cart drawn by big, thick horses that looked more tired than fierce. Most of the boys seemed nervous and eager, and laughed at the thoughts of dying. They were invincible, of course. Joseph said nothing to them, because he had nothing to say that was worthwhile. He let himself be jostled by the cart and the horses’ hard footsteps.
They got out and it smelled worse. Some of the boys looked more excited, some looked horrified as many men were dragged back into tents, missing limbs or severely bloodied and burned. Joseph only felt regret for coming here and wanted to leave, but they wouldn’t let him.
The commander, a rugged, rough, harsh man said, “You signed up for this. Your village needs you.”
Joseph swallowed and nodded, shivering like he was cold. He wondered if, since he was born that way, that meant that this was to be the end.
“Git out there,” the commander said to Joseph’s distant eyes. “They’ll give you a sword, I trust you can use one?”
Joseph shook his head. He had never even touched a sword. The commander sighed and straightened his spectacles. “Hold it and swing at the people in green. Got it?” he nodded.
He walked towards the battlefield and they did hand him a sword, a great big one that was heavier than he thought it would be.
When Joseph went out there, he was scared to death and there was so much smoke and he was tripping over dead bodies all over the place. He felt tears, partially from the stinging heat and stench and partially from the terror that was filling his bones, dripping down his face. A man in green came running at him and Joseph held out his sword in fear and felt the man go limp on it. He nearly screamed when he realized what he had done. He yanked the sword from the green man’s chest and ran further into the battle.
There were bombs, enemy bombs, they might have mentioned, but Joseph didn’t remember. He stepped one step and the bomb when off right near him, and before he fell he saw something he wanted, something he wanted really badly but he didn’t know what it was. He reached out to get it, to get the thing he wanted but it hurt him too much to move. And as he faded from consciousness all he knew was that the thing he wanted had sea eyes.