‘On The Floor of a Rice Field’ by Joe Tennant

Life flowed. It was a simple rotation: days were spent in the rice fields, waves of wind blowing over the infinite green. Nights spent laughing, loving, caring for the ones in your life. Nothing changed and nothing needed changing. Nguyễn lived like the rest, a calm, untouched life working day in day out in the fields providing for a loving family putting food on the plates of his two daughters and smiles on the faces.

Similar to the rest, the sun beat down on the day it began silence spread the only sound rippling through the valley being the rushing of the river and the beating of leaves. But the sounds were gone. Replacing them a noise that could only be described as a roar rattling the bones of the workers. The plane tore a gap in the sky revealing the battle field behind. bangs accompanied by screams followed the onslaught of planes. What used to be a tranquil, pure village in the swing of a scythe became a warzone.

But the scene was covered by a curtain of light consuming them ending the pain and starting the beginning. The birth of the new Vietnam took merely minutes and has continued for over fifty years but the war will end unlike the pain which will be eternal.

Once the light had faded and the screaming had settled, Nguyễn found himself on his back, covered in what he assumed was dirt and blood. An assessment of his body led him to discover the blade of his scythe nestled into his left foot revealing the flesh inside, now covered in a splatter of mud. He lay there contemplating his options whether he wanted to drag himself home to either greet his family or be met by their crisped corpses. Or remove the scythe and attempt to walk to the nearest hospital, if it still stood.

But the time he had to think was short as a similar roar pierced the ears of the wounded farmer. Dragging himself up by his will to survive, Nguyễn found himself in a battle field. Violently removing the weapon lodged in his foot, he set himself in a stance prepared to fight for his life. But it was over as quick as it had begun, the scrawny  workers stood no chance up against the advanced weapons of the opposition. And with one bullet, the book closed, what was a life filled with happiness and laughter was now a motionless body on the floor of a rice field.

Photo by Elina Sazonova from Pexels

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