Building Coffins

Vahara, the angel of death, muses about humanity on the brink of war. ( A WWII era story).

As I look at the faces of the men around me I can name and state the time of death of each one. I know which ones won’t be coming back from the next strike and I know which ones will survive by the skin of their teeth. We’ve eaten together, slept together, trained together and every day more of them come back in body bags. Every day I look into the fading gaze of another dying comrade as I whisper to them, trying to provide comfort in their final moments.

They trust me. They think that I’m one of them. They think I’ll save them. But unlike the other medics I have never saved a soldier. They call me doctor death, laughing behind my back about how every man I touch dies. They don’t know how right they are. If the men here knew that the angel of death really was among them they would never fight again but that will never be. Only the dying with learn my real name, will see my true face, cradled in safety until they can let go of their earthy remains and move on to the next world.

Some of them are laughing, trying to forget the waiting battle of tomorrow. They drink and sing, spending their last calm moments enjoying being alive. Some of them are crying, alone and hidden in their tents and sleeping bags. Some of them clasp pictures of loved ones, wives and children, while some hold tight to religion and pray. A boy no older than eighteen is huddled up against a tree, his face to one of the communal campfires. He is hiding in his jacket, his arms cradling his head as he gently rocks back and forth, fear emanating from his body. The children are always the ones that bother me the most, watching the life drain from their eyes is the hardest, how cruel death can be taking one so young. But this one will not die tomorrow. He raises tear filled brown eyes when my shadow crosses in front of the fire.

The End

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