Becomes One Hundred Stories #10: Recovers from Wounds

This is a piece of short fiction in the style and universe of three of my novels: Becomes the Happy Man, Becomes God’s Silent Prophet, and Becomes the Meaning Blossom.

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Recovers from Wounds

The young man lay recovering from his wounds.

The young man lay in the neutral land where he was wounded in the war with his homeland’s enemies from the land to the north, the land of snow and ice. He lay in the neutral land in the place where he recovered from his wounds but where he did not fall in love.

The young man did not fall in love with a healer’s helper nor did he fall in love with a healer. The young man did not fall in love at all.

In the spring, when the battles still raged across the neutral land, another wounded soldier lay next to the young man, and he recovered from his wounds too. Many wounded soldiers recovered from their wounds in the place where the young man lay recovering from his wounds, but this new other soldier seemed to like the young man. He seemed to talk like the young man. He seemed to be a friend with the young man even though he was a soldier of the enemy to the north, the land of snow and ice.

The young man spoke the language of the land to the north, the land of snow and ice. He had learned to speak that language when he—but the young man did not like to think about the islands beyond the horizon of his homeland and what had happened there. He did not like to think about it, so he did not think about it.

The other soldier who lay recovering from his wounds never seemed to hold it against the young man that the young man was his enemy. Mostly because the young man did not behave like an enemy.

When the other soldier first came to the place where the wounded soldiers recovered from their wounds, he told the young man he had nothing against him personally.

The young man replied that he had nothing against the other soldier personally either.

The other soldier had been surprised the young man could speak his language.

The young man told the other soldier he was aware it was unusual.

The two wounded soldiers never talked about politics or about the war as they lay recovering from their wounds.

After several weeks, the other soldier fell in love with the healer’s helper who looked after the wounded soldiers in the morning. The healer’s helper understood the other wounded soldier’s language, but the other wounded soldier did not understand hers. He did not know the language of the neutral land. The young man, though, understood all three languages. His own, the other wounded soldier’s, and the healer’s helper’s.

The other wounded soldier told the young man he was in love with the healer’s helper who helped them in the morning.

The young man said she was a good woman.

The other wounded soldier said he did not want to speak to her in his own language but in her language.

The young man asked the other wounded soldier if he wanted to learn the language of the neutral land that their homelands were fighting over.

The other wounded soldier said no. He said he would recover from his wounds soon and he wanted to take the healer’s helper back to his homeland, the land to the north, the land of snow and ice. He said he did not have room in his brain for another language.

The young man asked the other wounded soldier how he would speak of love to the healer’s helper in her language if he didn’t learn her language.

The other wounded soldier said he only wanted to confess his love to the healer’s helper in her language. After that he would talk to her in his language that she also understood. He asked the young man if the young man could tell him a poem or a nice speech in the language of the neutral land where they lay recovering from their wounds. He said it should be a simple confession of love without a lot of flamboyant imagery and without an excess of poetic devices.

So the young man told the other wounded soldier a love poem in the language of the neutral land, and the young man repeated the love poem. He repeated the poem many times, and the other wounded soldier repeated it many times. He repeated it many times, and the young man corrected his pronunciation. The other wounded soldier repeated the love poem in the language he did not know until he could speak it flawlessly even though he did not know what he said.

The young man asked the other wounded soldier if he wanted to know what the poem said.

The other wounded soldier said no. He said he did not want to know what the poem said because he could only know it in translation, and he did not want to know it in translation. He said it might affect his delivery of the poem if he had an idea what the words meant. He said the general message was the important thing, not the specific words. He said the specific words would be important to her, but they were not important to him.

So the young man did not translate the poem for the other wounded soldier. He did not translate it, but he did ask the other wounded soldier when he would perform the poem for the healer’s helper.

The other wounded soldier said he would recite it to her the next morning when she woke them up for their cleaning.

The young man said he was sorry he could not go away and give them privacy.

The other wounded soldier said it did not matter. He said he did not mind that the young man would witness that moment.

The young man said he would look the other way. He said he would look the other way, but he could not turn entirely away because of his wounds.

The other wounded soldier said he did not have to turn away. He did not have to turn the other way, and he did not have to look the other way. Then the other wounded soldier repeated the love poem, and he repeated it flawlessly.

The two wounded soldiers slept.

The young man woke up the next morning before sunrise as he always did. He woke up, and the healer’s helper whom the other wounded soldier loved started her work.

The place where the other wounded soldier had lain wounded was empty.

The young man asked the healer’s helper where the other wounded soldier had gone.

The healer’s helper cleaned the young man. She said she did not know where the other wounded soldier was, but she would ask when she finished cleaning the young man. And then she finished cleaning the young man.

The healer’s helper went off to find what had happened to the other wounded soldier in the night.

The young man wondered if the other wounded soldier had walked away. He could not think of any other explanation than the other wounded soldier had become nervous and had walked away to hide from the healer’s helpers.

When the healer’s helper returned, she told the young man the other wounded soldier had died during the night. She said he had succumbed to his wounds.

The young man said nothing. He could not say anything to anyone all day. He did not eat very much that day.

The next morning when the healer’s helper came to clean the young man, the young man told her the other wounded soldier had wanted to tell her something.

She asked what.

The young man recited the love poem.

The healer’s helper seemed unmoved. She continued cleaning the young man throughout his recitation.

When he finished, she said it was a nice poem but she had hear it from many of the wounded, dying soldiers.

The young man said not that poem. He said he had composed it himself.

The healer’s helper became more interested. She smiled at the young man and started giving him the treatment that the healer’s helpers were not supposed to give the wounded soldiers but some did anyway.

The young man said no, he had not composed it for her. He said he had composed it for the other wounded soldier. For the other wounded soldier to give to her. The dead soldier.

The healer’s helper stopped the special treatment.

The young man said the dead soldier had loved her.

The healer’s helper finished cleaning the young man and went off to clean other wounded soldiers who would fall in love with her.

The young man never did fall in love with anyone while he recovered from his wounds in the neutral land, the neutral land where he recovered from his wounds without falling in love with anyone.

 

To read more stories in the series, see the Becomes One Hundred Stories page.

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