Never again

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.”

96 thoughts on “Never again

    • It is, isn’t it? A -bad- joke. I wrote this in my head, as I usually do, a very long time ago. Litlle did I know… I decided to write it dow on “paper” last week.
      Sadly, as current events show, we will NEVER (learn).

    • Not friends. The two men of the story have not become friends. They have just agreed to stop being enemies. Which basically was the basis for the creation of the European Union. After 1000 years of waging war between the French, the English, the Spanish, the Germans, we all got together and agreed to form a union based on commerce. it worked. For more than 70 years. Now the war is coming form the other side… Sigh…

      • It is. At times. I have lately begun to think that peace is a consequence of war. Not the opposite. In a way, it is well possible that we “need” war, despite its horrors, so that when war ends, people rest, promise “never again”, and for a while it becomes true. Until they forget. And the cycle starts again.
        Hopefully, peace will come back.

      • Politics is so messy in our country, most of those in power are crooks. So many people are hungry, I guess there is no peace for them. These politicians want is to amass wealth for their pockets, never mind if the rising prices of commodities are so high that not all people could reach.

  1. Ordinary people keep thinking – and sometimes yelling – “never again”.
    Murderers (allegedly) ruling the world keep thinking – and sometimes saying – “who cares”.

    Guess who gets the final word each and every time… 😦
    Who could ever make it truly be never again forever…?

    • The explanation probably comes from Hannah Arendt. (Look the movie up if you can). She wrote that every human being has to reinvent the world from the minute s/he is born. We don’t pass memory on genetically. She was thinking of the importance of education. Precisely to pass the memory on.
      The limitation of that, is that, after a while, new people are born, and more and more, and they gradually forget the horrors of war. And some new bastards think they will get away with it. But they won’t.
      Stay safe dearest Holly.
      Fröliche Weihnnachten.

  2. The scene is sadly realistic. Young men sent into war, looking for glory learn the hard way that they’re pawns in a horribly needless fight. The soldiers that are able to recognize their adversaries as peers are to be admired.

    Unfortunately, maniacal and power-hungry sociopaths somehow manage to wiggle their way into power and history repeats.

    • Yes. Now the two men can be anything. Soldiers. Civilians. Officers. We don’t know. Does it matter? 😉
      What matters are some of the bastards who keep popping up. Everywhere. Over and over again.

    • Thank you. Yes. Sadly, it is a constant. My brothers and I are the first men in my family for a long time who haven’t gone to war…
      Thank you for your visit and comment.
      Merry Christmas…

  3. The sad irony. Many would rather live in peace and within their means. But then, who cares what the common majority think? It’s not their place to decide who dies or lives. Leave that to the ‘powerful and privileged’. Shame…

  4. I’ve really enjoyed the creativity of your writing, Brian. The beauty is in the way you tell the story, a great read on its own – but with significant meaning behind your words. “We can’t really keep on like that, can we?” And I think of what is going on in Ukraine and wonder how it ever to this point… and where do we go from here. Great writing, keep ’em coming!

    • Thank you Dalo. You’re only too kind. I “wrote” this story in my head about 20 years ago. (I always do that, then it may take year to go down on paper. The key points in the story are the two men face down on the ground, “we can’t keep on like that, can we?” And “never again.”.
      Which is basically what the West in general, and the french in particular did with Germany. Look each other in the eye and say: “enough”.
      Now, much, much later, Ukraine is back in the same predicament. Until R*ssia is forced to back off, bombs will continue to fall. Sadly.
      Now, on the bright side, wars always come to an end… The sooner the better…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s