A Prisoner to War

by Anna Littlejohn, age 17
A Prisoner to War Anna is a seventeen-year-old creative writer who is very excited to be submitting her first work to the Writopia Magazine! She is a lifelong reader who has been writing her own fiction pieces from a young age, so she is thrilled to have the opportunity to share a short piece with others. Her other interests include playing the classical violin and studying Latin at home, and she lives with her parents and cat in Oakland, California.

“There was a prisoner lying on the wet ground, covered in mud from the battlefield so that their uniform was indistinguishable from the surroundings. Standing there in my own uniform, spattered with mud myself as one of the victors preparing for the punishment, I could not even make out the telltale signs that would show that he was from the opposing side. He was a prisoner, I told myself.”

There was a prisoner lying on the wet ground, covered in mud from the battlefield so that their uniform was indistinguishable from the surroundings. Standing there in my own uniform, spattered with mud myself as one of the victors preparing for the punishment, I could not even make out the telltale signs that would show that he was from the opposing side. He was a prisoner, I told myself. That was how war worked. Thousands of lives could be lost in one day, one battle, lives that were indistinguishable from one another in the face of death, with all their separate memories and stories blending into one consciousness. War was good versus bad, each side convincing themselves that the others were subhuman and evil, justifying the slaughter and cruelty. But man was a single race, with only petty distinctions of appearance, separated into the categories of nationality and physicality. It was human nature to want to distinguish, I thought, as I saw the lesser officials march up under the gray sky and wrench the pitiful man to his feet. Was he even human in their view, a prisoner who was soaking and half-dead? Was this how they were going to justify his death at their hands? A feeling of horror rose in my chest and crept into every corner of my brain. How could this be routine? What had his life been like before the war? I imagined his wife and children standing in front of their house, waiting for his return that would never come. Did such deaths even mean anything in the grand scope of the war? I watched the proceedings continue with mounting dread. When the gun went off, I felt like I had been shot myself, and although I stood straight and showed no emotion as I marched away, my insides felt like they were melting away from me. I knew that I could not remain as I had been before.

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