Faces of Men
by Denise Sochin
I watch for a glimpse of your face as the camera pans the fuzzy images of muddy men in dark green ponchos. The distorted video shows an Apache helicopter flying low and ominous in the background. A hellfire missile launches from its belly and leaves a white trail bright against the dark gray clouds and rain soaked sky. The screen displays the backs of men, mother’s sons, as they watch from their overlook and hunker down when the delayed sound of the explosion reaches them.
Hail begins to fall and the hard balls of ice show white against the dreary, monochrome surroundings. Other white specks reach their destinations as the men fire their weapons into the distant hills. All the ponchos look the same.
There, that could be you. The one half-turned towards the camera. The profile looks like yours. I wait in anguish for a closer view but it isn’t you. The cameraman teases me with almost sightings. The hail rains down on tired bodies and broken hearts. The camera continues to film and focuses on men with their half grown beards and weary eyes. I watch as they look for relief from the rain and hail and mud. Grim faces mourning lost comrades.
I see the men as they rally together and pass on words of encouragement. They look into each other’s eyes and smile a little. Sharing a bond available to no other.
Now I see your grainy image. I see your baby face and your little boy face. I feel your small chubby arms as they wrap around me and I think. How can you be there? Your adult arms are around a machine gun. Your body is encased in plate armor and your head covered in Kevlar. I reach out to touch you and hit the hard barrier of the screen instead. I want to go through the glass and pluck you from that place. The others are in their positions. The video moves in slow motion and I see you turn in your soaked clothes towards the camera. Amongst the dull colors you pass your sergeant and you smile as he gives you a pat. That smile, the same one from the face of your youth. As your face fades from the screen it is etched in my mind forever.
Denise Sochin grew up in Los Gatos, CA, and later lived for many years in Virginia with her husband and two sons. Her family recently relocated back to the Bay Area where Denise is exploring the art of creative writing through classes at Diablo Valley College.