An Alternate Ending to The Things They Carried By Tim O

Posted: September 6, 2008 in Uncategorized

When it finally came, I guess no one was expecting it. I mean, it started off as a pretty reasonable spot, you know? There was no reason to think otherwise, to think that Cross was being an idiot when he told us to dig our foxholes into this field.
When the rain started coming, when the river started flowing up real high and covered us in that muck, then we began to realize that maybe this wasn’t the best place to sleep that night. And then when the shells came, when there were big flashes of light and little bits of shrapnel flying around, all we could do was pull ourselves into the stink, that god-awful mixture of dead fish and shit and river water. We pulled ourselves into quicksand blankets like ostriches putting their heads in the ground, though I dare say that we were slightly more reluctant to do so than the typical ostrich.
I remember that I was talking to one of the newer guys, one of the ones that I was hunkered down near. I remember clutching close to my damn useless M-16 under the muck with the things I carried spread out near me like flies on a sticky web and listening to this kid natter on about his Billie or Katie or Lacy or some other name. I remember he tried to show me the picture he had of her, one where she looked pretty good he told me. He pulled out his flashlight, excited, turned it on.
I just had time to say how cute she looked before the shelling started again, set off by that damned light I guess. A real nasty attack, though I don’t know if anyone else was hurt by it. I don’t remember much of that night really, just bits and pieces before it happened. Certainly don’t know anything about the morning after, but I do remember the shell as it knocked a hole into my shoulder and drove me deep into slime, and I remember a faint noise that I thought could have only belonged to that kid and his damn picture of that Sally or Anna or Laurie.
I heard, “Tim! TIm!”
I heard, “O’Brien!”
I don’t think I heard much more than that, certainly didn’t see anything. Remember saying goodbye to the kid after I slipped under, after the shell hit me. After I was dead.
But, then again, that never happened either.

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