War and History Fiction posted September 5, 2016

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Sunday Prose Potlatch--a character changed by war

Don't They Know?

by dejohnsrld (Debbie)

“Sargent Kevin Sampson.”

Okay, here goes. I never thought when I signed up years ago that there would actually be a time this happened. Then, a few minor skirmishes were taking place, but nothing like the hell there is in the world today. I’ve taken the government’s money for years, now I guess I have to pay for it. I don’t know if I can take actual combat … killing and death aren’t what I signed up for. Just a good, steady job with great benefits and retirement. What about Sarah and the girls? Will I see them again? Here goes, I’ll find out what my assignment is …
Oh, hell no. Iraq. I thought we left that war once. What the hell is wrong with the country? We seem to think we can fix the world. I’m scared … leaving the family for a year … being injured, losing an arm or leg … death. I’m not ready to die. Desertion—that’s what it will be if I don’t serve. What in the hell was I thinking? I could have been an engineer like Steve. Home and safe … good job … with his family … alive with four limbs. How could I have been so stupid?
How do I tell Sarah, and will the girls even understand? Four and six … awfully young to have to deal with this. Do we tell them the truth, or just that I'll be gone for a while? I can’t … I don’t …

“Sarah, it’s the worst. Iraq. Combat.”

She’s crying … now I’m crying. I’m glad the girls are with their grandparents. Oh, shit. How do I tell my parents?
What will they think when they see me? Big, brave soldier … one leg … a year of rehab …They didn’t sign up for this, damn it. It’s not fair. I’ve let them down. Sarah, she may understand, but the girls? A dad who jumps every time there is a loud noise, has dreams that he wakes from screaming … maybe they can help me get my head on straight at the hospital …at least I’ll be there for a while, maybe they won’t know.
PTSD they call it … a living hell is more accurate. And the physical pain. It isn’t just the leg is gone—it still feels as if it is there and on fire. Drugs help some … take the edge off. They say it never goes away completely. Deformed. PTSD. Me.
Niles said it took almost a year for his disability benefits to go through. We’ll lose the house and car … I really screwed up. I let everyone down. Dependable family man … hell, a cripple with a messed up head. That’s not who Sarah married. And now poverty, too … Maybe my folks can help.
Here goes. Sarah will come in first … later, my folks will bring the girls. They know my leg is gone. Will they stare? Be horrified? Should I let them see this? Maybe just stay in bed under the blanket the first time. They don’t have to see it yet. We can let them know a little at a time, less shock.
Oh, my god … what the hell? I jumped a foot just because the door opened.

She's here. Beautiful Sarah. I hope she still loves me.

I’m tired. I love Sarah and the girls, but this is overwhelming. They keep rattling on about what the new dog did, that the neighbor boy fell out of the tree and broke his arm, things that don’t matter. Don’t they realize the pain I’m in, the hell I’ve been through, what horror there is in the world?  I don’t think I can do this …




Sunday Prose Potlatch-topic 625 words

A character changed by war.

I worked at the state veteran's home for ten years and have known many with war injuries and PTSD. It is so very sad. Quite often they are abandoned by family who are unable to cope with the changes.

Since I have an amputation, I can tell you the physical (and to some degree emotional) pain never ends. Despite the fact the limb is gone, it still feels like it is there and painful due the the damage to the nerve endings. It will itch and after 12 years, I still find myself reaching down to scratch what is no longer there.
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