BORN TO LIVE • by Jeremy Runion

When I was young my brother left for the war. He died several months after in action. He was a hero by all standards. Incredibly jealous was I, but I was born wrong and would forever be denied.

A year later he was drafted again. The nerve! So livid was I my eyes began to twitch. As expected, the telegram came in the winter. Another battle secured at the loss of his life. My parents wept. I fumed.

He continued to be drafted, to die honorably while I lived uselessly. He was born to die, my mother would say between facial tears and fabric tears. And me? I was born to live… for his sake. Yet so, in misery.

Dying is easier than living. You die everyday while alive, and get no reward, no compensation. You die a million times and no medals are hung on your grave. Living is harder than dying.

Eventually the overseas wars ended, the drafting cancelled. And those who had served and died and stayed dead did not rise from their beach sand tombs or dirt dug pits. But my brother came back, a smile on his unslack, beautiful face.

He came to me one morning wearing a police uniform and told me he would be fighting the internal wars now. There are a lot of them, y’know, drugs, trafficking, terrorism; injustice all around. I screamed at him to leave and he skipped away with a smile.

The next summer, an officer stood at my door. He had a message regarding my brother.

“My condolences.”

Indeed! I thought and turned my wheelchair away and, under the weight of life, began to weep.

Jeremy Runion writes in Kentucky. When he survives traffic each day, he types up a story. His earliest memory is of a steam train toy in his old townhouse’s living room. His second is playing Mortal Kombat with his father.

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