A Soldier's Soliloquy following a Civil War Battle. A monologue.
|Setting: The set may be created a number of ways. There may be an elaborate set of foliage and a “stump” upon which the soldier might sit. It can also be conducted with a bare stage save a lone, plain, wooden bench. Either way, it is as if the soldier is calling up recent memories, and the setting becomes twofold: 1) the actual current set, and 2) the battlefield represented by pieces of the set or place on the stage. The soldier begins seated.
Soldier: We walked amongst the bloodied bodies of the fallen, recognizing men both blue and gray. In battles like these—in wars like these—there are no victory whoops, no jubilant cries proclaiming great gain. No, only a morbid slideshow of deeds and sights never to be spoken of, never to be confessed, never to be questioned, accompanied our survey of the damage. Even this quickly, you know which ones will stalk you, haunt you, inhabit the dreams that cause the midnight serenades of terrorized screams.
One such image resulted from a split-second judgment call, one that I am not soon to forget. I came face to face with (a slight hesitation in which his face fights back tears) a drummer boy. A nine-year-old child. He was obviously scared, confused, and longing for the safety of his hearth. (Speeding up gradually as the emotions swell inside of him) His eyes pleaded with me, his tears advised me, but the pressure awakened my instinct, and I… (He breaks down, but composes himself and finishes the statement differently, defensively, and stands)…I did what any self respecting soldier would do… (With regret) but what any self-respecting human being could not. (Slowly, embracing his lack of self-worth) I pulled the trigger.
(A long pause as he is lost in the action, possibly reenacting it)
(Recovering, acting out the next few lines, paying heed to specifics) Dread rose inside of me as I recognized the peach orchard that marks the beginning of this brief nightmare. Then…I saw him, bloodied beyond recognition, but identified by…his drum. In contrast to the gore and depression, peach blossoms fell and lighted with rustling taps on the drumhead. (Pauses, then is reminded of the current setting by some unseen wind) My moment of reflection was cut short as a vast wind stirred the air. It reawakened the soldier in me, not to be deterred from a goal I remembered now the romantic dreams of battles yet unfought, fictitious battles that motivate my very existence. I turned away, suppressing my emotions to focus on the task at hand. I grasped my bayonet, fastened like eternal lightning, my constant anchor in a time of such uncertainty, until my knuckles transitioned to white.
(Coming back to himself)
The questions welling inside of me will not, cannot, be answered. I must move on. For the good of my country, for the good of my family, for my own sanity, I must move on.