The Battle

by R. L. Copple

They say when you're about to die, your entire life flies past your mind's eye. That's not what I'm experiencing on this battlefield - his sword in my gut, and my blade buried into his chest. Fighting surges around us. Commanders yell orders. It all dims into a pool of abstract sounds and thoughts.

Rather, a different focus emerges from the hazy chaos as life drains from my limbs. I had sacrificed my life for this? A piece of land the king wanted, which my family would never live on and my descendants would never inherit?

I had served in battle after battle for the king. I had dodged death's blows on many occasions, and never once did it cross my mind that in the next moment my life could disappear with the sea-breezes. In my head, I knew it, yes. But, it never traveled with me as a companion. It never dwelt in my house or slept in my bed. I had slid between death's fingers so many times, I didn't think I would ever get caught by the old tyrant - even though I should have known better.

Now, the tyrant had trapped me. I wouldn't escape this time, nor would I escape the purpose of my martyrdom: another's greed. It took death to bring life into perspective.

The soldier standing opposite me fixes his eyes on mine and communicates wordlessly the same realization. Life should mean something, and death should celebrate such meaning. This isn't it.

As we sink to our knees and collapse onto the grass reddened by death's pride, as the yells, grunts, and clanking of swords ring in our ears, we bond.

Enemies in life. Brothers in death. And the knowledge that the former could have been avoided.

© 2008 by R. L. Copple
Original fiction debuting at Residential Aliens.

R. L. Copple is a father to three children, a husband since 1982, and lives in the Texas Hill Country. He has written for religious purposes but currently is editing three novels. He has been published at A Thousand Faces, The Sword Review, Ray Gun Revival, Haruah, Fear and Trembling, EveryDay Fiction, Residential Aliens, and Dragons, Knights, and Angels. His five chapter fantasy novella Infinite Realities (read my review here) is for sale and has been serialized at The Sword Review, September through December 2007. Visit RLCopple.com for more.

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