he says "i'm going to kill you slowly" and you don't ask questions. he says "i want us to fall in love" and you know there's hardly a difference. he says "why are you crying" and you tell him to look at his hands.
the dirt was soft and wet with a passing rain, churned up enough near our feet to melt into mud. the sky was tinged pink as the sun's first few rays licked up from the horizon, and the chirping of birds was replaced with the rattle of ammunition fire(more) in the distance and the march of feet on dead earth.
adam had frozen somewhere along the way, feet stock still in our walking, and i'd taken him by the elbow to move him along.
he wouldn't budge.
"why?" he asked, softly enough that i barely caught it over the shouting being exchanged among soldiers. they passed on around us, uncaring. "why do they have to die?"
"come on, buddy, keep it moving," i jabbed him between the shoulder blades, but he remained where he was. people were starting to notice. "whatever it is, we can talk about it while we walk, we don't have to stand here."
i remember his hair always being a tad bit too short, like a mother's careful handiwork before getting shipped off to work. it was matted with mud, and the bandage above his eye bloomed right as he furrowed his brow to try and stave off tears.
"i don't get it," his feet started to move then, but they staggered in broken steps. i helped him along by the arm. "why are we killing? what purpose?"
"for the war," i whispered. "for our country."
i'd said these words so much to try and justify it-- the killing, the barbarism, our unadulterated patriotism that eventually ended in bloodshed.
"i don't want to do it anymore," his steps became larger then, like he'd gained strength his spirit enough to carry him. "i'm so tired of fighting."
he died two days later. god had answered his prayers.(less)