Flash Fiction: A look in their eyes

A good commander could read it in their eyes. The look should have been recognizable, a burning flatness a soldier wore when they’d been ordered to walk a night too far, skip too many meals, or watch one too many compatriots fall. It wasn’t hard to pick out, for a good commander.

Unfortunately, Naell Federov was not a good commander. He passed for decent in the flurry of conflict, where the ranks broke and the chaos required staunch unforgiving action. But around the campfires, his tired ranks felt the harsh demands more. He never sat with them, never tasted their meager rations or listened to their stories.

Their tents were not tidy enough, their uniforms never clean or pressed to the commanders standards. He told them so from horseback, wondering out loud while such basic things could not be accomplished. In the next sentence, he decided the regiment would again wake at dawn and march until dusk, as they had done for days.

Such direction was felt by all, and the commander’s unyielding demands often turned first to those directly under him. Whispers of discontent were muttered at every campfire, enlisted and officer alike.

A good commander would have recognized the live coals. Naell Federov did not, and he retired one evening with only the thoughts of his dinner and bed concerning his mind. None of the petty officers lifted a finger when the commander’s tent went up in smoke.

Another short post this week, until December these will probably be the norm. Blame thesis work and PhD prep. 

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One response to “Flash Fiction: A look in their eyes

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