This evening is unusually quiet; too quiet. It’s the kind of quiet that makes me nervous; like the calm before a storm. I cannot put my finger on it, but there is something in the air. Something is about to happen, I can feel it in my bones.
Darkness is setting in as twilight ebbs away. These foreboding feelings are still hanging on. As I stoke the embers in the fireplace, there is a quick movement to the left of me. Dropping the poker, I turned to defend myself. “Meow! Meow!” Tiger, my cat, just about caused me to have a heart attack. My nerves are jumpy now for sure. This is going to be a long night.
It was around midnight, when I heard a sound outside. I must have dozed off for a bit. I made my way to the door to look out. Darkness engulfs the woods, save for a small path of moonlight filtering through the trees. Opening the door a little wider, I listen for the sound that woke me up. It is quiet, as quiet as I have never heard it.
“Who’s there,” I call out. My voice echos for a moment then, silence. This tension is getting the best of me; I am hearing things that are not there. Closing the door, I start to shuffle back to my chair, when, out of the corner of my eye, something moves at the window.
I turn to look. My heart is racing. The window offers no vision, except for the reflection of the fire in the fireplace. Something had been at the window, staring at me. I know there was…
…This night cannot end any too soon. My nerves are shot. It’s like waiting for the shelling to start all over again. For hours, we’ve been crouched in this dirt hole, waiting, always waiting.
The shells are coming in from everywhere. It’s the worst nightmare come true. Mortars are popping all around us. We can’t do anything, but hug the dirt; can’t even fight back. This is the worst shelling I’ve seen and it’s not letting up.
“Look out! We’re not going to make….”
Living just up the road, I stopped by this morning to check on him. I’ve been concerned. He has appeared to be under a lot of pressure ever since he got back from Vietnam. Don’t know what went on here last night, but the place looks like a war zone.
I found him lying just inside the front door to the cabin. He was conscious, but not making any sense when he tried to talk. He kept calling out to someone, something about not getting out alive and when will the shelling stop. Then, he would stop and begin sobbing like a small child.
He suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Now, the doctors believe there was a complete psychotic break during the night. As I got ready to leave and head home, I couldn’t help but wonder what might have triggered the intense anxiety he evidently experienced during the night. Guess I will never know.
A young deer lingers in a stand of pines nearby as the early morning sun begins to filter through the forest canopy. The air is crisp with the promise of a new day.
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