This piece is inspired by my senior’s short story, Memoirs of War, a reddit comment, and two or three war movies I’ve watched. I was trying to see someone who dies at war as a person, not as a hero. I rarely write stories in English, so forgive my lack of language skill.
They call you a hero.
He was a brave soldier, they said. Thank you for your service to the country, they said.
They said that to your dead body. Lying in an open casket, wrapped in your uniform.
People thought it made you looked decent. That it showed who you really were. That it showed people what you died for.
I couldn’t help but think that they only did that to hide all those holes in your body.
God knows how many bullets were there.
Then they asked me to give a speech.
I didn’t speak a word that day. I couldn’t.
What was I even supposed to say?
That you were a brave soldier? That you were a man this country needed? That you were so kind and unselfish because you sacrificed your life for the sake of your fellow citizens?
That you wouldn’t regret this? Dying for the greater good?
Well, I don’t know about you. It’s too late to ask you either.
But I know I did regret this.
I regret letting you go in the first place.
I regret not forcing you to stay here the last time you came home.
Ah, I still remember the last time you were home.
How could I forget? It was the last time we were together. It was the last time I see you.
Correction: It was the last time I see you alive.
I remember staying up late that night. We used to do that. We always did that.
We would just lay on our bed. Sometimes we talked, sometimes we just laid there.
I love it when you talk, I love the comfortable silence even more.
Then you fell asleep. I love watching you sleep. I love hearing you snore.
Yes, you did snore a little. I never told you the truth, I am sorry.
The last time, I stayed up until three am. I remembered because it was raining, and that stupid song you loved so much comes to my mind every time it rains.
She only sleeps when it’s raining.
I slept as soon as I heard the first rain drop.
It’s three am. I’m in my bed. It’s raining.
But I am not sleeping.
It’s cold and I’m trapped in uncomfortable silence. Only me and the sound of rain.
There’s no sound of you snoring.
There’s no heat radiating for your body.
There’s no you.
Not tonight, not even tomorrow.
The rain becomes even colder.
The silence has become deafening sound.
The right side of the bed is a hollow reminder that you’re not here.
That you’re never gonna be here.
People said that I must be proud.
Proud, they said. Like you’re winning an award or something.
You don’t feel proud when you lose someone, no matter what they did.
Screw that shiny medal, I’m certainly not proud that you died as a hero.
Don’t take it the wrong way. I don’t hate them for saying that. I know that they didn’t understand.
They still don’t.
People don’t understand that losing someone to a war is not something you can be proud of.
People don’t understand that all the stuffs they know about war, about dying as a hero, is not true. It’s not as good or romantic as they make it in the movies.
People don’t understand how painful it is to lose someone to a war.
People don’t understand the true cost of a war.
They don’t know how horrible you looked every time you came home.
You came home after fighting a long battle.
You did just kill somebody. More than one, of course. I never had the courage to ask. Nor that I need to know either.
You always felt horrible. You took a life. Not only from the people you killed, but also from their friends, their families.
They call you a hero, when all you did was saving yourself by taking others’ lives.
You always said that it could be you the next time.
This is the time.
Somebody took your life, maybe to save theirs.
Well, they took a part of mine too.
It’s only systemic.