The Wrong Side of War

Image of Set Stories Free - 2018
Image of Short Story
Frank knew the horrors of war. He saw the flashing lights, cascading over the summer sky and thought of only sheer terror and mass panic. A sophisticated novelist might call this event “beautiful”; so “horrific it was beautiful”. A fact: war is never to be associated with beauty, and neither is the peace that follows.

The future was never decided.
This was one of many reasons Frank doubted victory for his country. There were many of them and while we had ideas on our side, they had freedom. Of course, this had never occurred to him when he’d been on the front. In fact he was not a very intelligent young man, and it could be argued he still was not. The war had just made him “wiser”. And since there were no good effects of war, this was just a more painful outlook on life. Maybe it was his age. Frank was now 67 years old, and life still did not feel like it had once felt.
To think that people walked past him on the street. They could not tell; how could they not tell? “”Look at me!” He wanted to scream at them. “Have you forgotten me and all I did for you?”
But Frank was a failure. And if his failure had been endowed by God the very day he dressed in uniform, then nothing was fair. Do they see me as a villain? Frank had fought as bravely as them, he almost died as courageously as them, so why on Earth was he subject to neglect and hatred? Perhaps circumstances do not matter. Perhaps I am truly, undoubtedly evil. They say I should rot in hell! But I did not know; how could I know?
Frank remembered the day he’d killed a man. It was surprising; the courage it took to do that. Because what no one wants to admit is that it takes bravery to commit an evil act. He was a man of my age and color. He didn’t see it coming . And I shot him right in the chest; lights out.

Frank finally dried his hands on the towel, looking up at himself as his thoughts cleared. There on the side mirror, hanging by an old piece of tack, was a picture that brought on these memories and reflections every morning. If he did not put it there, it was lost on him. And when he made plans to take it down, he forgot it was even there.
So Frank tore his eyes once more from that piece of paper, and time was erased in that moment.
But if Frank’s glance had lingered on that small shred of paper for a little longer, and the details of old memories would’ve come into place, Frank would have seen a picture of three young soldiers in the army, one himself, all wearing uniforms of the time period, backdrop somewhere in Europe. And on each uniform bound to the left arm, just below the shoulder, was a symbol once of peace; now of hatred.
So Frank sat on his old chair, mindlessly humming an old tune he’d heard long ago.
“Die Fahne hoch die Reihen fest geschlossen...”
And without even knowing why, the old man began to cry.