He Could Have Been

I haven’t done a flash fiction piece in a while, so I’m going to try and do that. I also don’t have any idea what I’m going to write about going into this, so it’ll be a little bit of free writing as well.

Actually, it’ll be loosely related to War and Peace, because I just hit the 1000 page mark and I’m feeling really proud of myself. There’s only a little over 200 pages left. The end is near! The book will finish! And so will Napoleon’s reign!

He Could Have Been

He thought he had every single scenario planned out, but reality had other plans. Everything was accommodated for: deserters, the winter, looters, morale — he had a plan and a back up plan for whatever they decided to throw his way.

What he didn’t realize was that the troops as a whole were suffering from an internal conflict we all contend with, that has no justified reasoning behind. Some people simply feel like they have to struggle, that things shouldn’t be as good as they are. They let themselves get lazy, knowing if they got lazy, they’d lose everything.

Some looked to the stars the night before battle and saw in the ancient constellations that it was not the appropriate time. There was nothing they could do because no one had enough power, despite what they thought about themselves, to tell the heavens they’re wrong.

There was no reason to lose the battle. Positions were in order; everyone slept well, motivated by the cool winter air. All they needed was one man to charge, but he never woke up that morning, through no one’s fault but his own. No one asked him to stay up late; no one asked him to give up his dinner to the injured man across from the fire the troops gathered round; no one asked him to trek to the enemy line in the middle of the night to see if he could gather any intel that might change the battle before it started.

It wasn’t his fault though. If he knew all he had to do was rest like everyone else, he would have. Sure, the commanding officers told him, but that’s not the same as the stars saying he needed to be the one to just be sure. If he knew the tide of the battle would change because he had the courage to move forward when asked, because he was humble enough to follow orders, he would have covered himself in his blankets and simply closed his eyes.

Even if he knew he should be asleep to be of any use to his country, he knew that there were moral obligations he had to uphold, and no one would ever be able to question how good of a man he was. As he laid on his back while counting the seconds his body shivered in the night and listening to the resting man he would wind up saving with his generosity, a lulled peace came over him as the shivering grew and his eyes slid shut for the final time.



If you’re interested in submitting your own flash fiction, please see my submission guidelines for more details. I’m currently looking for stories about political activism and social justice.

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