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Trigger Warning: Injury detail

Strawberries in Wartime

by
Terry Trowbridge

This story is sad for many reasons. A teenage soldier at war ran straight into his death, impaled on another teenage soldier’s bayonet. The enemy’s bayonet entered just below the ribcage and plunged upward. True to his rote training the enemy twisted in a semi-circle, tracing a gibbous moon in the victim’s adrenaline heart. The victim, thinking of the red muscle and white sinew and the swift swish of a blade, recalled his grandmother hulling strawberries every year for jam. The victim, in order not to die in merely a pure panic, clung to the memory of his grandmother and the taste of fruit, the patience of her hands, and Summers.

               A further reason this is sad, and one that none of the actors could experience but that we might realize, is that if the grandmother knew he died thinking of her, then she might have felt some comfort when she heard the news. And even furthermore, if only we could know the last thoughts of comfort from the dying, any of us might be reassured that our easiest daily actions do serve important purposes in a world of fearsome violence and almost infinite ways to remember and compare. But mostly we don’t.

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