Looking at himself in the mirror that day, he couldn't tell how old he was. Sure, he knew how old he was, but either his eyesight or his mind was partially deceiving him. The grays in his hair seemed to be hidden, the lines around his eyes were gone. Perhaps it was the uniform. After all, he hadn't worn it in a long, long time.
Those were the days. He had escaped relatively unscathed from nearly a decade of service in the Army, but many of his friends had not. Drinking buddies were now lying beneath Mother Earth. Others were making their ways through life missing an arm, a leg, or both. Or all.
It wasn't fair.
Who was he, after all? Often he was referred to as a jerk. A know-it-all asshole who would just as soon shoot his superiors in the back as he would his enemies. So far in life, by his own measure, he had accomplished nothing. Why was he spared?
Certainly, he knew, his old friends were more deserving of a good life. Even the relatively few medals on his chest reminded him that he always fell a little short of the accolades. Not that he minded. He was a bit camera shy, after all, but his friends were red-blooded heroes. And the man in the mirror was not.
He took a breath, straightened his uniform as well as he could. It didn't fit as well as he remembered. A little tighter around the waist, a little looser around the shoulders. But it was his. He had earned it. His friends had died wearing it. And he would put up with looking a little out-of-place in order to honor them... because who else was left to do so?
As he exhaled he realized one strange, yet completely natural, truth. He had to live for all of them. Accomplish all of things that they, together, should have accomplished. His life must turn around, for his existence now had a meaning far greater than he deserved.
Yes, he thought. Great things will happen. For those whose only future is the eternal silence, the eternal darkness, that is memory.
But first, a funeral.
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