25 September, 2010


A war zone is not a safe place, yet when the fireflies come out in the evening during the still of battle, there is a sense of peace. Momentary, but still there. Like soldiers in the forefront of battle, their lives last but a while and in a night, may be no more.

In a rough skewed movement, small things may break. The subsequent consequences may be dramatic. In retirement, one forgetful moment can lead to a fire storm. So much for 'experience comes with age'. It doesn't help when one returns to live in the past and does not realise their presence.

A forgotten pin. A lost cap. A missing manual. A dropped canteen.

Hail the replacement of the fallen! The brave who take the most dangerous of positions! Hail the reinforcements! They strengthen the weary hands; their coming opens the bleary eyes and brings hope to the failing heart. With them comes a breeze of newness, smells of fresh uniforms, the sparkle of life outside the booming dust and bloody bodies. But soon, too soon, they too become like the others on the front. Dull eyed, heavy hearted, aching, afraid and yet determined to do their duty. The lights of cigarette butts dot the coming night and the smell of smoke brings little comfort to the looming spectre of death. Mud finds its way into the itchiest of places and small insects burrow and bite. Wet, sog, must.

How is it that they say war is a glorious thing? The adventure of a life time? The dreams that follow. The memories that grow in strength and haunt every hour, waking or sleeping - for the rest of their lives. Brokenness, sadness, anger, pain. Relived over and over and over. Does it ever end?

An ant trundles stolidly, toiling though its work is futile. A mouse licks at the rainwater that has collected in a deep boot print. Behind the front, there is a plum tree in full bloom, its white petals making look like fairy floss on a stick from afar. Food that satisfies the belly, sufficient warmth for the night. A fire to cheer the lonely soul, thinking and dreaming of home.

It's the little things in life. What you do with it. Observe carefully. Look around you. All is death and yet there is life. All is broken and yet there is return.

For what purpose is revenge? Will the death of another man relieve the grief of the deceased's parents? Will it bring him back to life? Surely it will bring with it a never-ending cycle of strife; where to avenge one, another must avenge him. One dies. Another is killed. Yet another murdered and some are slaughtered. Is there a difference?

Yet there are times and there are times. Sometimes in standing firm, one person's lack of control can bring everything to chaos. Sometimes, when standing firm, one must fight. To the death. To protect what is held most dear or risk losing all.

In the end we are the fireflies. All fall, all die... but at least those still living have been given a chance at life. A gift. A present like no other present. What will you do with yours?

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