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Where Soldiers Cry
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Where Soldiers Cry
A Christmas story that's probably not like any you've heard before.
Steven L Howard
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (11)
Angel Of The Morning Calm (Short Stories) On his first overseas assignment he ignored the advice of seniors and almost lost it all for the beautiful and independent minded Korean woman who had befriended him. (Inspired by a true story) [13,863 words] [Romance]
Dad's Here To Play (Non-Fiction) Can we become so busy and self-absorbed that there is no time for the things that matter most? A tragedy answered the question. Please click the title to read the story. [2,049 words]
Every Breath You Take (Non-Fiction) A letter to my children: In two separate accidents, two families of our friends buried a child this last year. After this, I look at my own children with so much more appreciation and humility. [410 words] [Relationships]
My Bilingual Marriage (Humor) (Genres) I have enough trouble with one language, when I married and had to learn another, it made for some "memorable" moments. [1,043 words] [Humor]
Some Things Need To Be There (Short Stories) You need some things to be there in order for it to be home. [1,611 words]
Star Of My Morning (Poetry) A Quiet Moment. [67 words]
The Cat In The Straw (Poetry) Then Grandfather said He's a silly old cat But there's many a man Who behaves just like that [336 words]
The Child Who Was Once Within Her (Poetry) The most unselfish love. [410 words]
The Piece Of His Heart Left Behind (Short Stories) Through many years he had learned to hate this man. Now came a simple plea - not from the hated man, but rather from the only one who could touch the bitter heart. [2,237 words]
Too Hard A Promise (Short Stories) He had never lied to his beloved, But can he promise what she asked? [1,658 words]
Vicki's Comeback (Short Stories) From the cutting edge of the knife to the cutting edge of success - her comeback was real this time. [2,863 words]
Where Soldiers Cry
Steven L Howard
There is no doubt in my mind why I am here, but that makes it no easier to be 6000 miles from home. Some are sarcastic about being here, but I’m a true believer in our cause. I love my country, and I want to do my part for my country, and be sure my family will be free, and able to pursue a happy life. As easy as it is to believe otherwise, deep down I know that my presence on this frozen, forsaken outpost is important in defending the life I want for my country, and my family.
That biting wind that we often call “The Siberian Express” blows in off of a sea so far from everyone I love. It brings snowstorm after snowstorm, and bites severely at the bits of exposed flesh around my eyes and mouth. I can feel my breath freeze in my mustache as I squint and continue to trudge home this night. Late nights are not unusual for GI’s in such remote locations, but they can hide the loneliness only so long. Sooner, or later, we always must go to our temporary domicile in this frozen hole, and when we arrive there, there is nothing to distract our thoughts, and nothing to hide behind. The burning loneliness is then a fact of the night and a companion at every bedtime.
Dreams, we hope, will bring visions of friendly faces; warm smiles; and voices which speak with that sweet southern drawl; Homemade pies; scuffle matches against brothers or cousins; teasing with sisters; or embraces from wives. But usually, the dream only replays the same day on the same frozen ground fighting the same freezing wind blowing off a strange sea so many miles from everything we love. Not many will talk about it, but all who spend much time here feel it.
I shuffle through the gates inside the dull grey concrete walls of the town that I temporarily call home. It is not a place I would visit if I were truly home, but in this place, we must be careful – not everyone likes GI’s – most do, but how many hostiles can a person fight when he is asleep?
I continue on through the snow packed streets lined with run down bars which exist just to service the GIs. Some play jazz, some rock, and some even country, but all are jammed into this dull, depressing little prison of a town together.
I stop short at the sound of one song. I cannot enter the bar in my uniform, but the words of this song - which I had never heard while in the US - were such a clear expression of our feelings even if we don’t have Geisha girls in this land. It was like the theme song for our hearts every evening:
The geisha girls don’t understand
The lonely life of a service man
When his heart is far away
With a family in the USA
I wanna go stateside
I wanna go stateside
I stand for a moment and listen. At this time of year much more than any other, the loneliness cannot be hidden. Perhaps because of this the voices of the GI’s inside can be heard rising strongly, if slightly out of tune, above the amplified music. Everyone sways and sings along with the chorus: “I wanna go stateside”.
As the music fades, I turn again and continue down the road, through a dark alley, and into the little one room apartment which I have rented just to find some solace away from the military base. Inside is only a bed, a coat rack, and a little kerosene heater necessary to make the room livable.
The little store that adjoins the back of my apartment is still open, and I can hear the music playing on their stereo. Usually it is soft rock played to appeal to their American clientele, but not tonight. Tonight, Christmas carols come from the other side of my wall.
I sit down on my bed, and begin to remove my mukluks and wool socks, but I stop before I can finish. I drop my head into my hands. There is nobody here to see me now, so I can let it go.
Tears force their way to my eyes, and I begin to choke on the lump that comes up into my throat. I cannot hide from it. I cannot deny it. The sounds of “Silent Night” coming through my walls will incessantly remind me. Sometimes, even soldiers cry as they realize: My heart will be home this Christmas, but I will not.
|READER'S REVIEWS (12)
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"Hi, you took me there, then left me crying , I hope you are home now, beautifully written, I felt as if I was there.D" -- Diana Vendittit.
"Thank you Diana. Yes, I'm home. It's a memory from my younger days. We have a lot of men and women who'll be feeling lonely this Christmas, though. I wrote this one down to give an idea what Christmas is like for GI's who can't come home." -- Steven Howard.
"wonderful, Steven, truly gripping and well written. You should try to get it published...easier said than done I realize." -- e. rocco caldwell.
"So sad... makes me want to cry. the details and everything just sounds so realistic that I just shivered against my seat." -- daphne.
"Excellent use of description within your non-fiction. It is also an great article for making the reader sympathetic with your motivations." -- Jerry St. George.
"Jerry, I think you will find this is more fact than fiction, Steven is it?D" -- Diana Venditti.
"You are correct, Diana. I think Jerry understood that." -- Steven Howard.
"sorry,I read wrong what Jerry had said.Sorry Jerry I goofed.D" -- Diana Vendittit.
"No harm, no foul." -- Jerry St. George.
"I loved this...I saw the comment you left on one of my stories and decided to check out your stuff...i'm glad i did." -- e. rocco caldwell.
"thank you for putting that in writing. my brother was in afganistan for christmas 2005 and i never knew how he felt" -- Daniel Styles, Langley, B.C., Canada.
"In beard texas hold em blinds? " -- texas hold em, texas hold em, texas hold em, texas hold em.
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© 2004 Steven L Howard
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