Fiction Home Freestanding Stories Alone Trilogy Legacy Series In Progress

The Soldier
By Amanda Berendt
Copyright December 2004

Bethlehem - circa 1225

    The man sat alone on the crumbling wall along the road watching as the new regiments marched by. The new soldiers were full of vigor and excitement for the upcoming campaign. When the army passed and the dust settled, the man looked after them and shook his head. Unlike many of the men here, he had never been filled with excitement for the cause. He had not voluntarily joined this crusade, but had instead been pressed into service as a penance for a crime he did not commit.
    He stood and dusted off his tunic trying to get as much of the dirt off as he could. Grime still clung to his now shoulder length flaxen hair and his bronzed skin despite his repeated attempts to wash it off. *Damn this god-forsaken place* he thought. He shook is head in disgust and started off down the road.
    He had traveled far from the commotion of Jerusalem where his comrades celebrated the season with wine, revelry and women. His destination was no place in particular but his journey through the town was far from aimless. Something seemed to be guiding him.
    In spite of the late hour, the heat of the day still radiated from the ground and surrounding buildings. He thought of home. Snow would most likely be falling by now.     This time of year was usually spent with his mother and sister beside the fire. It was a time to celebrate, not a time for battle.
    He passed by one of the inns where many of his fellow travelers were celebrating the season with gusto. Briefly, he considered joining them and forgetting his worries for a time, but something in him made him continue his journey through the ancient city.
    He wandered through the winding streets as the darkness deepened. At last he found himself at the edge of a marketplace. The late hour ensured his solitude. Approaching the fountain in the center of the square, he dipped his hand in the cool water and washed his face.
    Gazing up at the clear night sky, his thoughts turned once more to his mother and sister and he wondered if he would ever see them again. In the darkness he found a single bright star. Remembering his sister's love of the heavens, he closed his eyes and imagined her looking at the same bright star. Silently, he wished his family a merry Christmas. For that brief moment, he was home.