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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:09 pm 
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So, last year, as an English project we had to write short stories based on the book The Things They Carried, (not so much based on since you didn't include characters from the book, just kind of the same concept) which is a book about the Vietnam War. It was a group project, and everyone in the group had to write two short stories. One we were assigned a prompt for, the other we came up with ourself. I was randomly going back and reading them and I remembered how much I actually liked this assignment, and how much I liked what I wrote. It's a different writing style than I usually use because I was kind of playing with a combination of my style and the style of the author (I forget his name). Mostly the style of the author.

Anyway! I just thought I'd post them here and see if I got any critiques because I basically live off of stuff like that.

PS If you're only gonna read one, read the second one!! I like that one better.


Prompt: You're a soldier in Vietnam who just killed his first man. This one was assigned to me.

I am alone in the brush, separated from my comrades. At one turn or another, I got lost, and now I am alone in the vicious jungle. I am alone, and I am scared.

When you are alone in the jungle, every sounds seems like it will kill you. Every twig snapping is a VC sneaking up on you, every shadow is a VC getting ready to blast your head off. The sound of your own heartbeat begins to drive you insane with fear. You stop breathing for fear that the sound of your breath might mask the sound of oncoming footsteps. Your eyes never stay on one thing too long, they are always flickering around, trying to spot anything that might be out to kill you.

And now I sit there alone in the bush, holding my breath, my every sense on alert like never before. And that is when I see him, the Vietcong soldier. He is very much alone, just like myself, and he appears very much scared, just like myself.

My grip on my gun tightens subconsciously, and my pulse increases despite my attempts to keep it silent. With each loud heartbeat I am sure he can hear me, that he will turn my way and fire his gun at me…

He grows closer to me. My palms are sweating as I raise my gun, my hands are trembling as I take aim. Then, I shift over to the right, and a twig snaps.

He turns to me, spotting me in the brush. The first thing I notice about him is his eyes—they are filled with absolute fear. For a few moments, our gazes are locked, both of us sharing in a mutual terror. For a moment, I share something with the enemy. Then, the gaze is broken as he raises his gun.

It’s funny how, when you’re about to die, everything just becomes a blur. I do not recall pulling the trigger on my gun. I do not recall seeing the bullet hit the man, nor recall seeing him fall to the ground. I just remember seeing him raise his gun, and, oddly enough, it caused all of my fear to vanish. My body took over. It refused to allow itself to die.

Now the Vietcong soldier is dead. The bullet went clear through his bare, unprotected head. A perfect shot. But I am not proud of it at all.

This man is dead and it is my fault.

Seeing the dead solider… one can’t help but wonder what kind of man he was. Was he valorous, fighting in the name of his family? Did he really want to be in this war, or was he forced into it? Had he been a merciless killer? How many men had he killed, and did he ever think about the lives of those he had taken?

I find myself transfixed by the scarlet blood rolling down his face. That could have very easily been my blood upon my own face had I reacted slower than I did. But, it is not my blood, and it is not my face. I was the faster one, and I killed him.

Did it hurt him much? I don’t think it did—it was a perfect shot, right through the head, killing him instantly. I wonder what it would feel like to take a bullet to the head. Would it be as quick and painless as we’re lead to believe?

It has been several minutes and I am still standing there, gazing into the eyes of a corpse. I see my own eyes gazing back at me. He is just like me after all. He was a scared solider on his own, just like me, and I punished him for that. I killed him for that.

And, in killing him, I killed a part of myself.


Prompt: Your best friend has just been killed. This is the prompt I came up with myself.... I'm a morbid child.

He is lying there on the ground. He does not sleep, for his eyes are wide open. However, they stare at no one. They stare at nothing.

He was a good man. Excited about the war, eager to prove himself to the world. Despite everything we endured here in his hellhole, he always was able to keep a positive demeanor. Always talked about how we’d be able to get home soon and we’d go back home and everyone would cheer our names as we walked down the street. All of the other soldiers laughed at him, telling him, “Matty, if we get back home, no one ain’t gonna give a damn about old Vietnam vets like us” but he would never listen, and he’d just keep smiling like usual. He’d talk to me about going home again, and getting a nice hot bath and wash off all of this horrid muck. I told him we’d never be able to wash off Vietnam, and he’d just smile and laugh, like always.

He never seemed to fear death. As a soldier, death was always looming over us, always around us. Matt would always laugh about it, though, just like he laughed about everything. I remember when he was shot in the leg. Even when he was cussing and screaming in pain, he was still laughing, saying, “I’m a real soldier now, aren’t I?”

I wonder if he still would say the same thing this time. Would he laugh at the fact that the bullet had gone right through the blue bandanna he always tied around his neck for comfort? Would it be funny to him that the very object he wore for comfort actually didn’t help him at all? That the bullet had gone straight through it, then straight into him? Would he laugh at it?

I wonder this as I look down at him, his eyes glazed over, staring into nothingness. His blue bandanna was now a deep scarlet. It had always been such a nice blue. It reminded him of home, he always said. When I’d asked, he said it was because it was the blue of the sky at home. It was the blue of the blueberries in his mother’s pies. But, most importantly, it was the blue of his girlfriend’s eyes.

He’d written her very often. What would happen now? How were we supposed to tell her that she wouldn’t receive any more letters from him? How do you tell a girl that her boyfriend isn’t coming back? That he will continue lying there, and he will never move again? That Vietnam has finally claimed his life?

For a while I had been standing there, looking down at the motionless body of the man who had always been filled with laughter, even at the most absurd times. The man who always kept his bandanna that was as blue as his girlfriend’s eyes with him. The man who had been my closest friend.

The others have stepped back. They knew of our close camaraderie that far exceeded that of anyone else in the platoon. I barely notice, though. All I can see is his body, with the bullet hole in his neck and the scarlet bandanna.

A feeling of incredible dizziness overwhelms me. My stomach is churning, and my head is spinning. I want to run, I want to throw up, I want to hear his laughter again. I feel like I should cry, but I am uncertain. It is not because I am scared of what the other soldiers will say, but because I am scared of what Matt would say. He would think it foolish of me to be so upset about something as simple as his own death. He would laugh at me and tell me it was nothing to worry about it.

It is for this reason I let the tears fall from my eyes, so that I might hear his laugh one last time…

But he is gone. My closest friend will never be coming back, because he is dead.


As a final note, for the project we had to come up with a piece of art for each short story... We decided to make our art actual objects, to be different. So, for the 2nd story, the object was a blue bandana with red food dye and a hole in it... when I got a real object, it hit me that I just killed off a really nice guy and I got legitimately upset. Fun stories!

May the Triforce be with you.
"To love another person is to see the face of God." ~ Victor Hugo
"Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid." ~ William Ernest Henley
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