For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“Smile, There Are IEDs Everywhere”

Jacob Siegel

Excerpt

For us, there had been no fields of battle to frame the enemy. There was no chance to throw yourself against another man and fight for life. Our shocks of battle came on the road, brief, dark, and anonymous. We were always on the road and it could always explode. There was no enemy: we had only each other to hate.

Whenever we got together certain names came up again and again. It was hard to imagine, even years from now, a conversation that didn't revolve around these men, these fuckers we'd never forget. They were anyone who'd made things harder than they had to be, or hurt our chances of coming home, or almost got us killed by some mistake. They were the shitbags, martinets, and weaklings who fucked us with their petty tyranny, corrupt leadership, selfishness, cowardice, incompetence, or even just that lack some men had—that thing that left them passive in the face of danger.

War stories are almost never about war unless they’re told by someone who was never there. Every now and then maybe you talk about something or listen to someone who needs to get it off their chest, but those aren’t the stories you come back to, not for telling.