February 20th, 2007

photographer
  • pling

Shell-shock

 Since he'd come back they'd barely known what to do with him. It wasn't that he'd been injured, or at least there was nothing visible to the eye that indicated injury. And the officer hadn't said anything about a hospital stay. But he just sat there. Day after day. Looking at something no-one else could see.

"Shell-shocked".

 One of the grandmothers had looked the word up, from a distant memory of talk of her grandmother's grandfather. Of course back then war had been different. Everyone was really there. Really in the midst of it. Being shelled. Up and over the top, running through the real mud while real bullets hurtled past.

The word was still strangely apt.

 Nowadays war was different. The army was remote. "Just like a game" read the recruitment posters. Which just made it even worse. Even more of a shock. When the armour failed. When it became about being really there, running through the real mud while real bullets hurtled past.

It was just the emphasis that had changed.

 Once, once he'd been the life and soul of the party. Once he'd been the man everyone wanted to know. But now he was but a shell of a man. To all outward appearances he was still there, still the same, but inside something had totally and irrevocably broken.

No longer shock caused by shells, but shells caused by shock.