Footsteps of War
Felipe Feldmar

J im sat on an old rocking chair, facing the hearth. Long shadows bounced around dilapidated walls covered with portraits of old relatives that hung like sentinels. The room was quiet but for the cracking and popping of firewood, and an occasional gust of wind. And footsteps.

He stared at the fire, and he remembered the war. Blood, sweat and tears had run freely like rivulets forming a river of destruction, which had emptied into a sea of lost cause. He had loved the cause, enamoured with the bloodshed and power he had had over the enemy at the time of burning, looting, and killing. Undaunted by the tasks faced, he had been known as a merciless warrior.

But the last day of the war, he had an encounter that haunted him for life. Enemy lines clashed, and he confronted a boy. The struggle was short. Unlike most other faces, the boy's was calm and collected as death came. A smile formed on his lips as life left him. Jim never forgot the deep blue eyes staring to Heaven as he mounted his horse to leave.

The Civil War ended, and he confined himself to a life of solitude. Many a night on those twenty years after the war, he sat as he did that night, facing the fire, pondering. Remembering the face. Hearing the footsteps of a lost soul. Hearing the footsteps of his brother.

First published: August 2001