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Rated: 18+ · Fiction · War · #2308168
based on a song written by Dolly Parton called 'The Cruel War'
A CRUELTY OF WAR


“Oh, Johnny, this war is so cruel! They said it would be over in months, but still, it rages on!” Sara cried as she threw herself into her beloved’s open arms.
“My love, my darling, it’s so good to see you!”
“You really have to fight?” Sara asked forlornly into his shoulder. He nodded solemnly.
“But I want to be with you all the time and always! Let me go with you!”
Johnny held her away from him and shook his head.
“No, my love, It’s much too dangerous!”
“Tomorrow is Sunday...” Sara began.
“Monday is the time that my captain will call me, and as a loyal soldier, I must obey,” Johnny reminded her.
“Your captain will call you and it grieves me to the heart, Can’t I go with you?” Sara sobbed.
“No, dear heart, no!” Johnny repeated sadly.
“I know exactly what to do! I’ll tie back my hair like all the men do. I found some men’s clothing to put on. We can march together like comrades. No one needs to know! Please take me with you!”
“No, my love, I can’t”
Sara stomps her foot.
“Oh, Johnny! How can you be so unkind! I love you more than anyone in the world! I love you much more than my words can say! Won’t you take me with you?”
Johnny heaved a heavy sigh as he said: “Yes, I will!”

************************


The sounds of the battle faded as both sides withdrew. When it was fully quiet, Johnny dragged himself up from his bedroll. He wrapped the body in a blanket and lifted it tenderly. As he hobbled painfully into the woods, he began talking to himself.
“I can’t believe we made it this far! Only to have my beloved Sara die to save me! I was sleeping the sleep of the starved and exhausted, so I didn’t hear the rifle being cocked. But she did and threw her body across mine!” Tears began running freely down his dust grimed face.
“It was bad enough for her to hear from a newly arrived soldier that her parents died of yellow fever. She sobbed all night, but I was happy to comfort her. Now this!”
He stopped near a mossy rock, laid the body down gently and began to dig with his rifle butt in the soft soil in front of the moss-covered boulder. When the hole was finished, he laid his Sara gently in it and covered her well with the soil he’d upturned. He dug out smaller rocks and covered the fresh soil. Finally, he cut into the moss of the boulder with her initials and date of birth and death.
“Farewell, my love,” he whispered over the lump in his throat. A bugle sounded as he was saying a prayer for her soul. His head went up like a hound hearing a hunting horn.
Slinging his rifle over his back, he headed back to camp on a run. He clutched the locket he had given Sara when they got engaged.
“She insisted I take it, as she lay dying, as usual I couldn’t say no!”

529 WORDS REMEMBERANCE DAY 11/11/2023





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