Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: BEACH (12/05/19)
- TITLE: A Voice Beyond the Grave
By Loni Bowden-Horn
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Another body washes ashore. Strong, swirling waters off the coast crash against jagged arched cliffs.
Climbing down a rope ladder, I land into one of the Higgins boats circling the troopship. An acrid smell of vomit assaults my nostrils.
I feel helpless as a barrage of artillery shells blow up a boat beside me. The men catapult in the air before sinking into the sea.
Plumes of black smoke and fire fill the skies. Bullets explode all around me as the troops and I storm the beach. Dead and wounded soldiers line the shore. Firm winds shift the contours of the sand covering and uncovering these men at will.
No tears will come. I try and stuff my emotions deep inside myself. If only these vivid thoughts would drift away and dissipate like vapor.
My shoulders begin to throb. I attempt to shift the weight of the gun's 50-pound tripod to alleviate the pain. I struggle to push forward until I recall my pastor's words: ‘”God will not send you into uncharted territory without giving you the grace to sustain you there.’’
A mixture of adrenaline and fear flow through my veins. I have a feeling of excitement mixed with the uncertainty of the unknown.
A spy plane rolls and bombards the tall grass where I huddle. The skirmish doesn't last long, but it's enough time for my good friend to be shot through the head. I cradle Jesse in my arms. I hear him gasping for air as blood spews out of his nose and ears.
I am given no time to process my grief, because I receive an order to take over the machine gun. The previous four gunners have been shot in the face. During a fierce and bloody battle, I sweep snipers in the hedges and mow down the enemy as they crest the bluff. After a brief lull, I shoot at a German soldier who has hurled a grenade in my direction. A piece of schrapnel grazes my shoulder.
Thirty minutes.The silence is deafening. Out of the corner of my eye, I see movement. The soldier who I thought is fatally injured emerges from the darkness waving a white flag. I hear a faint whimpering as he calls out,
“Please may I surrender?” The young solider crawls over to me covered in blood.and badly wounded by my bullets.
I reach over and pick him up.
“What is your name?”
“Heitz,” replies the young man.
“Are you going to kill me?” He says after eyeballing my pistol.
“I could never do such a thing because I follow Christ and that would be considered murder. “I a Christian, too,” Heintz replies
He's only a kid.
My thoughts begin to wander.
Why couldn't we be sitting by the campfire, laughing and sharing stories of our childhood, instead of killing each other?
I didn't have anything against him, and he didn't have anything against me, but we were trained to kill one another.We were sent from our countries to annihilate each another.
As we limp over to the infirmary to treat our injuries, he slips a small golden cross into my hands.
Fifty years pass.
An eerie silence greets me at the graveyard. It feels like shame and guilt are hidden beneath the stones.
I kneel by the black wooden German crosses and weep.
Despair has seeped into my soul.
I am so sorry. I've prayed for your mothers. I've prayed for your fathers, your sisters and brothers. I took them from you.
A small, still voice whispers,
“You don't carry this burden alone. You surrendered your life at the cross.”
A gentle cry rises from the grave of my enemies, “You have been pardoned.”
I feel my heavy burden begin to lift as II embrace the forgiveness I seek.
My enemies and compatriots are now at peace.
Based on the loosely based on the life of Andy Andrews
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