Not A Hero
Author: YanaOriginals

Chapter 1
Not a Hero

Memory:

The screams of people echo off the walls and pierce through my soul over and over. Heavy dust in the air scratches at my eyes and I can't see anything but a blanket of smoke which is sliding into my nostrils and throat like sandpaper. As I struggle to breath, the sound of gun shots are almost deafening. Planes sore overhead and I clutch the gun in my lap like its a lifeline. Breathe Nathan. You can get through another day, I think to myself.

I press my back up against the wall, almost as if I'm trying to become one with it. Like I want it to suck me up and take me away. But I'm not getting out of here anytime soon and I'm a million miles from safety. A million miles from home.

I try to concentrate on my breathing but the explosions are too distracting. Large black clouds of smoke are rising in the already darkened sky. Like a vicious demon, it expands until I can't see the sun. The devil is among us, and this is my hell.

I hear a shout to my left and look to see that a fellow soldier has fallen. He's out in the open like a drop of blood in the ocean and soon enough the sharks are going to catch his scent and come after him.

He turns his head and spots me standing in the darkness. He shouts for help and his screams rip at the tender edges of my heart. There's only seconds left. I leave my alley of safety and run out into the open, like I'm jumping into the ocean with him. When I reach him, I grab him from his underarms and drag him back to my alley, leaving a bright red trail on the ground as if to scream "They're over there! Finish them off!"

We're just a few steps away from being out of sight, the sickening shrill of a plane passes by overhead and I want to scream. I hear the explosion before I feel it.

Suddenly the ground has slipped from underneath my feet and I am airborne. But this is not what it's like to fly. No. Flying is freedom and this place is anything but free. The pain is too much for me to handle and the darkness swallows me whole.

I snap back to reality and look out at the crowd in front of me. They are clapping and my family is cheering. I'm being rewarded for 'my courageous act of saving another soldier' after we both (barely)survived the attack. My little sister, Lily, smiles at me and claps along, but I know she is too young to understand. She doesn't know what I do over there and the things I've seen. She doesn't understand what war is and I wish she never had to.

I don't smile when I'm handed the medal. Because I know I am not a hero like Lily thinks I am. Not because I know I did what I needed to do, or that the chance of the other soldier surviving was pure miracle. Not even because of the fear that envelopes me on a daily basis. No. I am not a hero, nor will I ever be, because of far greater reasons.

Memory:

It's a Friday night. Or is it a Saturday? I don't know anymore, I don't even know my own name. I'm in a car and I'm driving and the smells of alcohol is strong on my breath. The empty bottles on the seat next to me chime as they hit into each other.

Was it me that finished those off? No, it can't be.

It's dark out but that's not the reason that I can't see. The lines on the road blur and I squint as if it will help me focus in on them. But I don't have bad eye sight. I'm dru-

The earsplitting sound of metal scraping together bring my thoughts to a halt. I've hit into another car and within seconds it has been sent tumbling over the edge of the road. I come to a stop and after a while, stumble out of my car. Blood drips down into my eye and as I blink it away I come to a realization that there is a vast drop next to the edge of the road. The small car is at the bottom and it has come to a stop on its hood while smoke rises slowly but surely.

I scream for a response below but the silence that follows is deafening. More deafening than any explosion ever could be.

Now what?

I turn, run back to my car, and drive off without looking back.

I am not a hero. I am a coward.

Forgive me, Lily.

 

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