Prompt #3; Using the theme of loyalty
The brothers leaned against the wired fence, gasping for air and clearing their faces of sweat and blood, the bombing choppers flew overhead and the foot soldiers quietly and carefully made their way through the nettings. John, a tall and athletic figure, quickly looked back then pushed a rag harder onto James’ bleeding forehead.
“James, I don’t know if we can both make it back to the front,” John whispered to his dusty blonde haired, blue eyed, one year younger brother.
“You go, sneak along the broken fence, stay in the shadows,” he said again,
“Go now!”he urgently shoved at his brother.
Terror and grief flooded James’ face as John pushed him away,
“John, don’t do this; it’s stupid, come on!”
He knew that John wasn’t going to follow him even if he did go, his brother would do all it took to make sure the enemy didn’t cross the line.
The two young men stayed together, waiting.John wiped his arm against his dark brown hair and then again through his own blue eyes.
“James, I can’t let you stay, don’t you understand?”
“You’re my family, I’m not about to lose you to this war, not like the fire that took our parents and sister,” John begged, practically crying, but James wouldn’t listen. If John wasn’t leaving neither would he. They were brothers, and brothers don’t abandon one another.
“Their names will be long remembered in the minds of the warriors that fought with these two courageous brothers.”
“May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace...Amen.”
Father finished his service and closed his missal.
The dirt was laid atop the holes as the last of the guests slowly departed from the church cemetery, only one stayed unable to tear his eyes from the resting place of his brothers. A tear slowly dripped from his eye onto the freshly placed soil. Jack couldn’t understand how it could be Gods’ will to take his brothers from him. Memories flew before his eyes of their childhood at the farm, threatening to overwhelm him, his heart started to pour over with sorrow.
“Angelica, mom, dad, they were all taken, now John, James, my last family.”
Jack started sobbing as he thought of fishing, hunting, graduation, of John throwing Jack over his shoulder after he received his diploma with a rough hair toss afterward.
He fell onto his knees in front of the graves,
**Running with his older brothers through the woods, trying to be the first to shoot the deer of the day. Coming home covered in mud, tracking it through the freshly cleaned house to give mom a kiss before they washed off, laughing all the way. “I have to stop, stop, stop, sto…” Grabbing Angelica while she was baking or cooking dinner for the family and tossing her around just to annoy her and get her dress full of mud, oh what Jack would do to see her scowl again, a quick, disappearing grin when they annoyed mom or dad, or the merry laugh that rang like bells around the fire outside when a joke was told. It was too much for him, he couldn’t contain his grief any longer, too long he held it in until he screamed it out,
“HOW IS THIS YOUR WILL!!!” Jacks voice cracking in his scream lowering it down to a despairing cry.
“I don’t know what to do. Please, please, tell me what to do God, dear God, help me, Please!”
“Can’t you hear me? PLEASE GOD!” his head lifted to the sky, face red, tears streaming from his blue eyes, he implored for so long he lost track of the suns position, of the rain falling, passing, and night dawning.
Jack was woken by a rough but gentle hand shaking his shoulder, groggily he raised his head from where he was curled in a ball on the damp grass. His face was swollen, his dirty-blonde hair was matted down to his forehead, he reached up to ruffle it off.
“Mr. White, I don’t know what you have gone through, I won’t insult you by pretending to, but I do know that sleeping through rain, and in the middle of November, outside, will not keep you alive, which is what your brothers would’ve wanted.” The tall man spoke to Jack.
Slowly uncurling himself, Jack found his feet, almost falling back over due to dizziness. The man grabbed his shoulder to steady him.
“Thank You sir, I didn’t realize I fell asleep, I didn’t know I was kneeling there that long.” He rubbed his eyes, clearing the salt from them allowing him to see better. He saw a young/middle aged man, about 35, with brown hair and brown eyes watching him in an assessing gaze,
“Jack, I am sure you do not know me,” The man finally spoke, “I am Petty Officer First Class Wright, I recruited your brothers into the Navy (Marines).”
Jack nodded, looking at his uniform, obviously stated what he just said, he looked into POFC Wrights eyes questionably.
“Is there something you will be needing sir?” he sighed, giving up his assessment and tired of condolences and pitiful looks. “I really should be getting back home, things to do, funeral bills, medical bills, and all that garbage” he started to turn bitter thinking of the challenges facing him, alone. Wright carefully watched him, seeing this in all relatives of fallen soldiers,
“Mr. White, I am only here to give you your brothers effects and a letter from John he wrote to you in the case of his death.” POFC Wright was careful in stating, but not careful enough, before he could continue Jack started shouting in anger
“Yeah, in the case of his death, well, GUESS what SIR, THEY. ARE. DEAD NOW!!! SO, WHAT NOW! HUH? WHAT’S LEFT TO DO… THEY. ARE. GONE. GONE!” the last word screamed into his face.
“If you would like I can leave these here,” Wright said looked around, wisely ignoring Jacks blowout, at the Church’s cemetery and parking lot where the Church lay.
“Or if you would rather you could come to my office and we could go through these items together?” His voice rose in question.
Jack rubbed his thumb and pointer finger against his forehead in exhaustion,
“Yeah, sure, whatever, I just want to be done with this. I can’t” He stopped, his throat threatening his steady voice. “whatever.” He finished.
The effects were pretty basic, each brother’s combat uniforms, ceremonial uniforms, and tags. Jack also received every letter his brothers received, all objects of sentimentality to the soldiers during their deployment, and any badges, patches, and awards earned during their recruitment. The last thing needed reading was the letter written in the case of Johns’ death. Jack couldn’t bring himself to open it now, not with the wound so close, so open. It would be like rubbing salt into it. He couldn’t be weak in front of Wright, not after the cemetery.
“Did you hear me Mr. White?” Wright asked.
Surprised, Jack looked up in confusion,
“Oh, sorry, no, what was that?”
Wright started from the beginning again, “Please listen closely, Jack, may I call you that?” after given consent he continued, “I was given permission for you, and only you, to hear what I am about to say, will you give your word that you will not repeat in any way what I am about to tell you.” Wright questioned Jack.
Even more confused Jack nodded in confirmation, Wright continued.
“What I say next will shock you and possibly enrage you, but I need you to man up and prepare yourself, can you do this?” Wright asked again.
“Just get on with it, I need to get home, please.” Jack sighed.
“You carry a great burden for a nineteen-year-old young man, I respect you for this,” He paused in hesitation, then decided to continue,
“Jack, John and James are not dead.”