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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Memory (07/10/08)

TITLE: Charlie Company
By Ruth Neilson


The smell of smoke hung in the air as Boy-o slumped to the hard clay ground. His feet throbbed but he dreaded removing his boots. The good Lord only knew what type of blisters awaited him. It had been a long day, and he only wanted to sleep—even for a few precious moments—but so did his brothers in the Charlie Company.

Boy-o swallowed as he gazed at the others around him. He could almost smell the gun smoke hovering in the air and taste the fear. He still struggled with the fear of walking through a field of grass because of the ingrained fear of taking the next step because of a possible booby-traps. He had to wonder if the others struggled with the memories. Boy-o made a mental note to ask the Commander next time they saw each other. He hobbled forward, leaning heavily on a freshly shaped staff, his pant leg pinned against his leg stump.

“Charlie Company, fall in!”

The order caused the small patrol to leap to their feet; Boy-o grimaced as his feet throbbed. He shouldered his rifle and fell silently into formation. Taking their time, the patrol made their way through the dense jungle. Hand signals were the only way to communicate—one spoken word at the wrong time would be disastrous.

Boy-o’s body trembled and he clung to his staff tighter. His memories were trapped in the past, even though he could hear people laughing and gossiping about some trivial matter of some sort of sale.


Boy-o crouched, glaring over his shoulder at the rookie in the patrol. “Shhhh,” the commander hissed. “Yer gonna git all of us killed.” The scout gestured with his left hand, for the patrol to move forward and slowly, the group began to inch forward towards their goal.

He slowly began to move among the forms frozen in time, touching each one’s shoulder with a ghostly hand, silently naming them: Doc, Rocket, Ace, Commander, and the Rookie. How could Boy-o forget his place with these men? He glanced up and gazed at the sun, only a few precious moments left before he had to return…

The attack happened without warning. The patrol was pinned down in the middle of a clearing. There was no where to go; Boy-o took a step off of the patrol’s path and a sudden explosion caused the battle to cease. Boy-o was down and the attackers fled during the chaos. His friends crowded around him, Commander swore loudly before calling for a tourniquet. “He got one of our own mines,” he called, yelling louder for Doc.

“We’re gonna git you home, Boy-o. I ain’t left one of my men behind yet.” Boy-o nodded, struggling to keep his eyes open.

Slowly, Boy-o worked his way towards his buddies who carried a litter, frozen mid-run--the ultimate sacrifice portrayed. There, he laid, his lower left leg gone. He clung to his buddy’s hand, his mouth pressed shut, struggling not to cry out in pain with each jolting step.

Boy-o allowed himself to once again mold into the heated bronze, memories flooding his mind of those awful last days in the jungle. Why had his memories been allowed to survive?

Two teenage boys were running across the sacred field, tossing a football and not for the first time, Boy-o wished he could speak to the people around him, and demand to know if they knew of the price that was paid for their freedom.

Maybe somewhere, these memories would live on, if only through the memorial.

The sun set, and softly, Charlie Company’s voices began to rise from the memorial, reminding anyone who was near that, "Freedom was never free..."

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This article has been read 619 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joshua Janoski07/17/08
You did an excellent job of getting your point across in this piece. You are absolutely right. Freedom comes with a price, and many soldiers are not recognized for the sacrifices they have made to help us keep that freedom.

I appreciate you sharing this well written piece with us. It was a pleasure to read.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/17/08
This well written piece showing your MC's memories are a great testimony to the reason for our freedom.
Joanne Sher 07/19/08
I was absolutely enraptured- descriptions are so rich and haunting, and what a message. Excellent.
Melanie Kerr 07/20/08
I liked the way that you broke up the text and the action with the italics and bold print. Visually it worked. The ending came far too quickly - I wanted to know more about the jungle incident.
Chely Roach07/20/08
This was wonderfully written...well done.
Karen Wilber07/20/08
Excellent suspense. What I took away from this was that every single memorial contains the memories of a soldier, a sailor, etc. If the tombstones could talk... Well done.
Lyn Churchyard07/20/08
This was very different. The idea that memories survived at the memorial would be great to see portrayed in a movie. Well done.
Helen Dowd07/21/08
This was a tenseful story. Well told and with great emotions. What sacrifice! And what a legacy! So many do not realize the sacrifice service men make...Well told....Helen
Loren T. Lowery07/22/08
All I can add is amen to the lesson taught by this wonderfully written piece. Kudos to the author!
Mariane Holbrook 07/23/08
I couldn't have stopped reading this once I started, even if I'd wanted to. It's superb writing and wonderfully put together. Kudos!
Sara Harricharan 07/23/08
Oh WOW! That's pretty much my impression when I'm finished reading this. There's so many layers to it-wonderfully done! ^_^