I killed a man and I made a man. Time has a way of passing between those two points, I’m not the young chap I once was after all, but those moments have stuck with me through it all.
After Hue, in that stinking hellhole where we spent three months, I didn’t know if Edith would have me back. I’d gone to ‘Nam as a kid, drafted before I could get into college and given a rifle and a one-way ticket to a jungle and people I’d never even heard about.
I shot a man, younger than me, in that jungle. I nailed him between his eyes before he could even raise his own rifle. I don’t remember the day or the place or the weather or who I was with. I don’t even remember his features. All I remember is the recoil, that kick in the shoulder and the crack-splat of a kid falling into the river.
I didn’t shoot anyone after that. They put me in some hospital, wheeling guys with legs and arms missing around and around, finding a quiet spot to leave them while they died.
But I came back and, true to her word, Edith was waiting. I wasn’t the same. But she knew that. She stood by me and we worked it out, slowly.
In ’73 she woke me in the night. It was summer in Memphis, the kind of sticky heat that beats at the AC and made her restless. She grabbed my hand and looked in my eyes and I had her in the old Cammy before she started screaming from the contractions.
My son was born healthy and bright, much brighter than his old man. He grew strong and tall, but right too. He didn’t bully, but he stopped bullies and for that I was proud. Maybe too proud, because I never told him, never spent enough time with him.
He followed my footsteps. He went to war in a country we had never heard of. Desert Shield. Saving people. Not like my war, he said. He came back, draped in a flag.
I wonder if somewhere, out there, there’s another kid with memories of only a faceless soldier standing before him, rifle held uselessly.
Prompt originally posted by blooestdbluey on reddit and received 4 upvotes.