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A Soldier's Lullaby [Short story]

by Jacoby


A Soldier’s Lullaby

A short story by Jacoby

Bright lights. Brighter than the brightest lights I had ever seen, pierced through my eyes. In the beginning, all white. But after a while, I started to see colours. Mostly green, with a few hints of brown and the most beautiful persian blue. But it was still all blurry. The feeling was similar to when one stands up after a long nap, and everything suddenly becomes blurry for a short while. Only difference was, this was not a short while. I could not feel my hands and feet, or even move my own head. I felt like a floating ghost with a static view of blurry colours. After what felt like an eternity, or just a few seconds. I’m not really sure. The view started to slowly sharpen up. I could soon make out familiar objects. A green, so very green, grass field. Reaching far far away. And a clear, persian blue sky, like those only witnessed on the best of summer mornings. The plains were completely empty, as far as the eye could see. Apart from a brownish dirt trail, leading ahead. After another while, or just a short moment, I still don’t know. I realised I was able to move my hands. Which in turn made me witness that I had a body again. With a memory short of any recollection. I curiously started to look at myself. I managed to sit myself up, but my legs still felt numm. I studied my clothes. Both my coat and pants were made from wool and had the color of a sandy beach. Big black buttons made their way from my hips, all the way to my neck. My boots were dirty and brown. But would still be brown, even if cleaned. Since they were of leather. Then I noticed three arrows on my right shoulder. They sat very tightly ontop of eachother, and shared a distinct color compared to the coat. They weren't originally there. They must have been sown on. I leaned forward to feel the arrows, but then something came flying off my head. It hit the ground, bounced once and then laid still. It made a very stern sound, hinting that it wasn't made from wool, but from metal. For some reason, I instantly recognised the object as I laid my eyes on it. It was a hat. Well actually, a helmet. A brodie helmet in fact. I had no idea why I knew that, nor where I had learnt it. I tried standing up for a second time. This time, successfully. After I managed to stand up, I picked up the helmet and placed it on my head. The helmet had two soft straps hanging from each side of it. But I didn’t bother messing with them. I looked forward, only seeing the never ending plain fields, and the narrow dirt trail making its way across the fields. After a few moments of just looking at everything around me. I started to wander forward by the small trail. 

As I was walking I started to think about the grass fields around me, and their distinct green color. Unusually green. Yet, it felt like I had been there before. Like I knew this place. At that moment I realised exactly where I was. I was in Wales. I was certain of this, since the only grass fields this green I had ever seen, were in Wales, where I grew up. At this point forward, memories started to appear. Not in my head, but in front of me. Each time I looked at a new object, it felt like the object itself reminded me of a story from long ago. A story about me. After following the brownish trail for a somewhat long distance, it disappeared. As I then raised my head I realised that the trail had led me to a very large lake. Between the green field and the water, were a small but yet so very golden beach. I took off my dirty boots and wet socks. So I could feel sand between my toes. As I stepped into the sand I saw a very tiny fishing boat, right in the middle of the lake. It was very far away. But I could make out a man sitting in the boat. The man was holding a fishing rod and was looking down at the lake. I formed a circle around my mouth with my hands and shouted “HEY” to the man in the boat. But he was too far away to hear me. Instead I looked down in the clear water in front of me. I could now see my own reflection. I looked old, yet young at the same time. I noticed a dark and unusual spot on the right side of my forehead. So I put my hand there. 

Suddenly, my whole body froze. I could not move a finger, or even blink. All I could do is feel the dark spot. I instantly felt a cold musky feeling, running from the dark spot and down throughout my entire body. Then everything went dark. Well not completely, I could still see myself, and the ground. Which had changed to a musky white colour. It was snow. When I raised my head after examining the now snowy ground beneath me. My view froze again. Just like before. But this time, everything was sharp and clear. It was just dark. But far away. I could see a man. This was not the man in the boat. This was another man. He was also far away. Making it hard to identify him. But I still managed to arrive at a shivering conclusion. He was looking straight at me. He was all gray. Apart from his very pale face. He had a helmet too, but it was different from mine. It had a sharp metal object on top of it. Pointing upwards. He was also holding a large, brown object. In some places, the object was of a shiny, gray colour. It was also thin and oblong. All of a sudden I realised, the object was also looking at me. Just like the man. But it only had one eye. A very dark and musky eye. Right then I heard a very loud sound. The sound was so loud that it felt like my ears were being pierced with needles. But the sound only lasted half a second. Then everything went away. Including the darkness, the snow and the man. I realised I stood by the lake again. While again being able to move my body and my head. What had just happened. When I looked around I saw a tree just a few meters away from me. I had not noticed the tree before. Not only that, There was a man sitting leaned against the tree. He was looking out at the lake. He wore the same clothes as me. Even the same hat. Only difference was, he didn’t have those three arrows on his shoulder. I again got the strong feeling that I recognised him, even like I knew him. He was playing a shiny gray flute. It had the same color as part of the one eyed object held by the man in the darkness. The music he played felt very familiar. But I couldn’t recognize any of it. I then, this time in a much more calm voice, said “Hello?”. But the man didn’t respond. He didn’t even break his sight from the lake. He just continued to sit there, playing his flute. I retried getting his attention a couple of times before I gave up for a while. At that point he stopped playing, and raised his eyes towards mine. He stared at me for maybe 10 seconds before he started to sing. It was with the same melody he has previously played. But this time, with words.

“ ♫ Dear Sergeant hear this lullaby,

for the end of thy road is here.

Art thou prideful of thy deeds?

When there's nothing more to fear.

Thou, might still not be aware,

that this is the end of thy despair.

It’s done! And our Sergeant will forever be gone.

Yet, The Great War carries on. ♫ ”


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Thu Jan 07, 2021 7:09 pm
HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!!

First Impression: Well this was a really interesting piece. I loved the intricate description in and you do a really good job with describing how this soldier experiences the world too. There is some slight issues I have with the paragraphing however, because the paragraphs are just a bit too big.

Anyway let's get right to it,

Bright lights. Brighter than the brightest lights I had ever seen, pierced through my eyes. In the beginning, all white. But after a while, I started to see colours. Mostly green, with a few hints of brown and the most beautiful persian blue. But it was still all blurry. The feeling was similar to when one stands up after a long nap, and everything suddenly becomes blurry for a short while. Only difference was, this was not a short while. I could not feel my hands and feet, or even move my own head. I felt like a floating ghost with a static view of blurry colours. After what felt like an eternity, or just a few seconds. I’m not really sure. The view started to slowly sharpen up. I could soon make out familiar objects. A green, so very green, grass field. Reaching far far away. And a clear, persian blue sky, like those only witnessed on the best of summer mornings. The plains were completely empty, as far as the eye could see. Apart from a brownish dirt trail, leading ahead. After another while, or just a short moment, I still don’t know. I realised I was able to move my hands. Which in turn made me witness that I had a body again. With a memory short of any recollection. I curiously started to look at myself. I managed to sit myself up, but my legs still felt numm. I studied my clothes. Both my coat and pants were made from wool and had the color of a sandy beach. Big black buttons made their way from my hips, all the way to my neck. My boots were dirty and brown. But would still be brown, even if cleaned. Since they were of leather. Then I noticed three arrows on my right shoulder. They sat very tightly ontop of eachother, and shared a distinct color compared to the coat. They weren't originally there. They must have been sown on. I leaned forward to feel the arrows, but then something came flying off my head. It hit the ground, bounced once and then laid still. It made a very stern sound, hinting that it wasn't made from wool, but from metal. For some reason, I instantly recognised the object as I laid my eyes on it. It was a hat. Well actually, a helmet. A brodie helmet in fact. I had no idea why I knew that, nor where I had learnt it. I tried standing up for a second time. This time, successfully. After I managed to stand up, I picked up the helmet and placed it on my head. The helmet had two soft straps hanging from each side of it. But I didn’t bother messing with them. I looked forward, only seeing the never ending plain fields, and the narrow dirt trail making its way across the fields. After a few moments of just looking at everything around me. I started to wander forward by the small trail.


Whoa...this is kind of a lot right there. The description is so specific and varied that its really, really easy to imagine this super vivid image about the whole thing and be able to picture every single thing that's around this person and exactly who said person is taking everything in but it is a little too much I think in some parts. Its a giant paragraph that's not very easy to read and it just feels like maybe a bit too much detail to stuff into one paragraph.

As I was walking I started to think about the grass fields around me, and their distinct green color. Unusually green. Yet, it felt like I had been there before. Like I knew this place. At that moment I realised exactly where I was. I was in Wales. I was certain of this, since the only grass fields this green I had ever seen, were in Wales, where I grew up. At this point forward, memories started to appear. Not in my head, but in front of me. Each time I looked at a new object, it felt like the object itself reminded me of a story from long ago. A story about me. After following the brownish trail for a somewhat long distance, it disappeared. As I then raised my head I realised that the trail had led me to a very large lake. Between the green field and the water, were a small but yet so very golden beach. I took off my dirty boots and wet socks. So I could feel sand between my toes. As I stepped into the sand I saw a very tiny fishing boat, right in the middle of the lake. It was very far away. But I could make out a man sitting in the boat. The man was holding a fishing rod and was looking down at the lake. I formed a circle around my mouth with my hands and shouted “HEY” to the man in the boat. But he was too far away to hear me. Instead I looked down in the clear water in front of me. I could now see my own reflection. I looked old, yet young at the same time. I noticed a dark and unusual spot on the right side of my forehead. So I put my hand there.


Oooh...well I am definitely pretty sure this is talking about some afterlife or something along those lines judging by the description in this and the actions that take place. Now this paragraph is a bit more sensible in terms of size and all but I do believe this requires a bit more condensing in some places just to be safe, for the most part however, this paragraph certainly works.

Suddenly, my whole body froze. I could not move a finger, or even blink. All I could do is feel the dark spot. I instantly felt a cold musky feeling, running from the dark spot and down throughout my entire body. Then everything went dark. Well not completely, I could still see myself, and the ground. Which had changed to a musky white colour. It was snow. When I raised my head after examining the now snowy ground beneath me. My view froze again. Just like before. But this time, everything was sharp and clear. It was just dark. But far away. I could see a man. This was not the man in the boat. This was another man. He was also far away. Making it hard to identify him. But I still managed to arrive at a shivering conclusion. He was looking straight at me. He was all gray. Apart from his very pale face. He had a helmet too, but it was different from mine. It had a sharp metal object on top of it. Pointing upwards. He was also holding a large, brown object. In some places, the object was of a shiny, gray colour. It was also thin and oblong. All of a sudden I realised, the object was also looking at me. Just like the man. But it only had one eye. A very dark and musky eye. Right then I heard a very loud sound. The sound was so loud that it felt like my ears were being pierced with needles. But the sound only lasted half a second. Then everything went away. Including the darkness, the snow and the man. I realised I stood by the lake again. While again being able to move my body and my head. What had just happened. When I looked around I saw a tree just a few meters away from me. I had not noticed the tree before. Not only that, There was a man sitting leaned against the tree. He was looking out at the lake. He wore the same clothes as me. Even the same hat. Only difference was, he didn’t have those three arrows on his shoulder. I again got the strong feeling that I recognised him, even like I knew him. He was playing a shiny gray flute. It had the same color as part of the one eyed object held by the man in the darkness. The music he played felt very familiar. But I couldn’t recognize any of it. I then, this time in a much more calm voice, said “Hello?”. But the man didn’t respond. He didn’t even break his sight from the lake. He just continued to sit there, playing his flute. I retried getting his attention a couple of times before I gave up for a while. At that point he stopped playing, and raised his eyes towards mine. He stared at me for maybe 10 seconds before he started to sing. It was with the same melody he has previously played. But this time, with words.


Yeah that is kind of a chunky paragraph again, a little too much information packed into a small package in my opinion. I do think my theory is correct however after this lullaby which is awesome by the way. Looks like our soldier here can finally rest now although that last line in the lullaby does leave things off on a bit of a sad note.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall I think this is a greats story and you've got it down quite well. If you could just break those into some smaller paragraphs it could be amazing. The lullaby too is really good and it definitely does a good job of summing up the situation the soldier is in.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




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Sat Jan 02, 2021 11:59 pm
Gurkensalat wrote a review...



Thank you for your story. I enjoyed reading it. In my review, I discuss each paragraph separately. It might be insightful to you how I perceived your story (and what I possibly missed out).

Let me start with the title: "A Soldier’s Lullaby". Sleep and death are brothers, and since death is an essential part of being a soldier, I got a hunch that this lullaby might be sung for someone dying or deas. Therefore, the title is very telling and prepares the reader well for the story to come.

In the first paragraph, the narrator slowly regains sight and body feeling. I enjoyed how you slowly recount this process of regaining consciousness. The mention of the "beautiful Persian blue" caught my attention (I assume, it is the sky's colour, but I might be mistaken). Oddly enough, I drew some comfort to the fact that the narrator could see something beautiful after opening his eyes again.

The first few lines also contain foreboding expressions like "I felt like a floating ghost" and "it felt like an eternity". At this point in the story, I expected, the narrator is either dying or already dead.

In the next few lines, we learn from the narrator's description of his clothes that he is most likely clad in uniform. At first reading, I deemed this passage lengthy. Somehow I assumed from the very beginning, that the narrator is the soldier from the title. On the other hand, we learn that the narrator has lost many of his memories, which is an important part of dying (according to Greek mythology). The narrator does not recognize a uniform or his rank badge. On the other hand, he instantly recognizes his clothes' fabric to be wool and his hardhat to be a Brodie helmet. He obviously suffers from partial amnesia.

In the second paragraph, the narrator follows a dirt trail to a lake. The surrounding remained him to Wales. Somehow, I think this is a sad passage. We learn about the narrator's longing for his home. I liked how natural he takes off his shoes and walks barefoot on the beach, which evokes an image of carefreeness. He then sees a fishing boat, which again reminded me of Greek mythology - however, I am not sure if there is a deeper meaning in his spotting the boat. He then sees his image on the surface. I like the idea that he cannot make out his age. This little detail underlines that he is in an ambiguous state of existence. Then he realizes a dark spot on his forehead. I assume this is the mark of a deadly wound.

The third paragraph was the hardest to follow, and I think I did not fully get the point (I feel like I cannot grasp something that might be self-evident). Upon touching his wound, the surroundings turn black and frozen. He then sees someone in the distance - is this Death? Or what is the shivering conclusion the narrator draws? What is the thing on the stranger's helmet, and what is the object that points towards the narrator? I thought it might be a telescope, but it does not seem to fit.

In the last few lines, he recognizes another man (obviously another soldier) at a tree. The other soldier sings the titular lullaby. The lullaby is just ingenious! It very matter-of-factly addresses the big questions of life. The lines offer comfort for the dead soldier ("there is nothing more to fear" - "this is the end of thy despair") but also remind us about the sadness of the world ("The Great War carries on").

This is a very touching story that offers a lot of food for thought. Thank you for sharing it on this platform!



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Jacoby says...


Hello! I want to start of by tanking you dearly for your dedicated review. This was my first short story out side of school assignments and I honestly did not expect this type of response. I never expected that warm feeling of knowing that another reader managed to interpret parts of the story just as I intended. While in some ways not as I intended.

In regards to the third paragraph. It's relatively short, and mysterious paragraph. Therefor it if extremely interoperable. My English teacher once told me that an important part of great story righting is "show don't tell". But my personal interpretation that paragraph is not at all self evident. But I will still tell you what I personally meant it to be.

The place he kinda flashback remembers upon touching his bullet wound. Is his last moments. A ww1 battle field somewhere in France, during the winter. The far away man. Dressed in all gray. Is a German soldier. They also famously were helmets with metal spikes on them. Hinting again towards the fact that the soldier is German. The object explained during the paragraph was meant to be his rifle. Made of wood. With some parts being "shiny gray". Probably his sight. The then single eye of the object. Could either be the bullet hole in the front, or the mans own eye projected through his sight.

But then again. I would also argue that your theory that the man represents death. Is very correct. After realizing that the dark man is pointing the rifle at him. The loud sound represent the trigger being pulled. Which marks the end of his flashback.


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Gurkensalat says...


Thanks for this clarification. It all makes perfect sense, and, in retrospect, I am stunned that I could not come to this interpretation by myself, since all the necessary evidence is in the story. Sometimes I cannot see the wood for the trees. Keep up your great work!



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Sat Jan 02, 2021 11:56 pm
Blake's stories and poems wrote a review...



This is a very good story that has some great vivid imagery in it. I also like how there's something that feels almost dream-like from the mysterious elements. There is a few bits where some things were split it more sentences than they necessarily needed to be, but this still works well by providing a slow pace that compliments the mysterious feeling the story gives. All that said this is a great story.




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Sat Jan 02, 2021 10:27 pm
Jacoby says...







Irresponsibly-conceived assignments don't deserve responsibly-executed complies.
— Persistence