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After the chaos relented, a funereal peace rushed into the vacuum. Snowflakes drifted gently toward the ravaged earth, a reminder that some things did fall without fury. Of course, delicate as it seemed, even snow could kill you. In another life, the thought might've made him sad. Tonight, it brought a weak smile to his grey, cracked lips.

He watched his breath curl away in the wind. Snow began to collect on his clothing. If he just sat there long enough, never again would he have to stand on frostbitten feet. Never again would he warm his hands with another man's blood, only to suffer shame over how good that felt. Never again would he have to pick who lived and who died based on the amount of morphine he'd scrounged up that day. His personal shoving match with Death would be over at last. He relaxed his shoulders, stopped rubbing his arms for warmth, and closed his eyes.

The ringing in his ears faded. Fires were still crackling. Trees were still falling, succumbing to their damage long after the shelling had stopped. And then a cry filled the air, tortured and familiar. It sent adrenaline coursing through his veins unbidden. Before he even knew he'd made a choice, he was running toward the sound, darting between splintered pines and bounding over smoldering craters. They called him, not by name, but by the word that had replaced it months ago: "Medic!"


Copyright (c) 2015 Robert Esckelson

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