Never again Brian Martin-Onraët

( Blog equinoxio21 )

Two men were lying facedown on the ground. Both covered their head with their hands in a futile attempt at protection against the bullets and rockets that flew above. They were about twenty yards away from each other. Separated by an imaginary line. Border or combat line. Who knows? Who cares?

Were they civilians? Soldiers? Wearing a uniform? Combat fatigues? Hard to tell. They were covered with dust.

How long had they been lying on the battle ground? Who knows?

Both probably wondered that morning whether to stay put or get up and run. But where to? Meanwhile, the bullets, shells, rockets kept flying over their heads.

The ground was relatively flat. A former field? Or a city square? There was a couple of burnt-down tanks a hundred yards away to the West. Too far to provide cover. The fuming ruins of a building were scattered to the East. Another hundred yards. Give or take. Craters everywhere. Clouds of dust.

How long did they stay facedown on the ground? Minutes? Hours? Who knows? Who cares?

The firing and the explosions slowly came to an end. Still, both stayed facedown on the ground. Their hands over their heads.

After a while, silence crept in from all around. None of the men moved.

A distant siren blared. Hidden loudspeakers boomed from both sides :


After another few minutes of silence, no bullets, no rockets, no shells, no sirens, no speakers, one of the men looked up and around. Got up on his feet. Which of the two men? Who knows? Who cares?

Then the other man got up. Both started brushing the dust off their clothes with their hands. Both looked around at the desolated landscape. Until their eyes met.

One walked slowly, ever so slowly, towards the other. And stopped at an imaginary line. Border or front line? Or just a safe distance? Then the other moved slowly towards the same imaginary line. Stopped but a few yards away from the first man.

They looked at each other. No hatred in their eyes. Only two worn-down men looking at each other. Who spoke first? In what language? Who knows? Who cares? Maybe they spoke the same language. Maybe not. Or they understood the other’s tongue? Border people often speak several languages. If they were border people.

“Well. That was close,” said the first one.

“Yep”, said the other, still brushing the dust off his shoulders. Looking at the ruins all around them, he added: “Too close. We won’t make it next time, right?”

“No,” said the first one. “We can’t really keep on like that, can we?”

Did they know each other? Maybe they were neighbours before. Or not. Who knows? Who cares?

The first one looked around. At the destroyed buildings. At the burnt down tanks and said:

“Never again, right?”

“Never again,” said the other.

Both looked at each other for the last time. Both nodded a silent agreement. Each man turned around and walked away towards his own side, thinking:

“Never again.”

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