The Recruit

He stands with a straight yet not rigid posture, the blood in his head thrumming between the sweat on his skin and the glint of the metal flaps of his helmet. This always happens, when they’re standing in formation and waiting to go to battle; to war.

His commanding officer always paces when he delivers the one speech he says before heading out. It’s interesting, because he thinks he knows the patterns of the swirling dust better than the speech he hears – not because he’s not paying attention, but because each time he hears it, it’s somehow new to his ears.

The new vineyard owners go home. Those with a new place to call home return to it. The engaged go home. The fainthearted go home, and even though he keeps expecting a day when no one’s left to fight, it never comes. And even on days where there aren’t many of them left behind, he finds that losing isn’t caused by a lack of numbers, but rather a lack of faith.

On most days, he can’t tell if the pulsing of his heart is caused by fear, or by the fact that he’s so calm that anything in comparison seems much too loud for his own body.

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