Pain in His Eyes

I walked into our makeshift barracks.  Sarge sitting on a footlocker, idle and expressionless.  He’s still in his gear, vest and all.  His helmet lay on the floor. His eyes gazing ahead into what could have been another galaxy.  Who knows.

“Hey Sarge, whats going on?”  I asked.

“Nothing Willie, nothing at all.”

“You don’t look  yourself.”

“I am not myself,” he says.  “I am someone else now.  I’m different.”

“You’re creeping me out Sarge, what is it.”

“I killed today.” he stated matter of factly.

“So” I replied gruffly.

Sarge gets up quickly and stomps toward me, grabbing my neck and pushes me against the wall.  Others in the room quickly get up and stand by with looks of astonishment.

“What the fuck you doing Sarge.  This is combat man!” I yell, our faces only inches apart.  “WAR!”

“War! Well war doesn’t take away the fact that I have feelings dammit.”

He lets me go and stares into my eyes, his lips quivering with either rage or hurt.  He turns and walks toward his footlocker.  Its quiet.  He stops and looks around the room.

“I believe judgment will come when I  face God,” he says.  “I get that its war.  That don’t mean it don’t hurt.  What the fuck are you guys, soulless! Look at me, I am different now!”

“You ever kill Mackie?” he calmly ask the Wyoming native laying in his bunk.

“Why no Sarge,” he states in his country accent. 

“How about you Pryor?” 

The cocky Brooklyn native answers “Nah man.” 

“How about you?” he says to me.


“I hope you don’t.  None of you!”  he yells.   Then says calmly, “I have to live with this, right or wrong.  Forever.”

“But Sarge, its ok man,” I say to him.

“Oh yea, tell that to that kids mother,” he says quietly.  “Is that what the Marines telling your mother if you die here.  Its ok?” 

War gives birth to pain.  Eternal pain. I now know.  I learned today. From Sarge.

This work of fiction was written for Trifecta: Week Sixty.

Please remember:
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.

44 thoughts on “Pain in His Eyes

  1. yes, oh yes. Our lives change with every event don’t they? Births, Deaths and for soldiers, yes I’m sure that it changes you immediately when you take a life, even if it’s in the pursuit of freedom.

    I know that my dad, as a Green Beret in Vietnam, told me many stories of how he was never the same afterwards. I think that is why killing is a sin and against the law, because it’s really a crime against take something that isn’t yours?

    this was brutal and well written. WELL DONE

  2. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to kill someone in battle. Each soldier, no matter which side, is a human being with a family first. Good message.

  3. The last movie/documentary that I paid money to see was, “War” by Sebastian Junger. He spent fifteen months imbedded with a U.S. unit in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. At the beginning of the documentary, many of the young soldiers are ready to be cowboys and kill the Taliban wherever they found them. But, by the end of the movie, each one of them has this haunted, far-away look in their eyes. No words of moral judgement need be stated in this doc., the eyes say it all. Being a front line soldier is no easy gig, as your story so aptly states.

  4. You portrayed sarge well. War changes all involved and I imagine those who have killed are saddled for life with what happened. It doesn’t much matter to our hearts of killing was done in war or not.

  5. Our so-called leaders ought to read more pieces like this. How quick we are to send our young men and women off to war and then refuse to take care of them when they return – traumatized. Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox. This was really good – thought provoking. I could feel Sarge’s pain.

  6. This was very powerful, heartbreaking and thought provoking. You brought the message of the pain caused by war across without preaching, reminding us to pray for the young men and women who suffer and risk everything in the name of freedom for our sake.

    It’s amazing how powerful just a few short words are. Thank you for sharing this with us.


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