Creative Writing, Prose

War

Prompt: Write an active scene (a dinner, a romance, an adventure) from the first person POV of no more than 500 words. Now take the exact same scene and write it again from the omniscient POV, entirely from scratch and without looking at the first version. Submit both scenes, and further, please comment on what changes you discover as you shift from one POV (I am telling the story…) to the other (the all-seeing creator tells the story…).

1st Person POV

I did the sign of the Holy Cross and I ran towards them, sword and shield in hand, and fear in my heart, but this was the way. War had finally reached our little corner of the world, and I could no longer hide myself in denial thinking that it was all so far away. It wasn’t anymore.

“Henry, if yer gonna daydream in the midst of a battle, yer gonna end up with the pointy end of a sword in yer belly!” – Janus yelled at me, while fighting back against two soldiers of the opposing force.

I snapped out of my reverie and raised my shield arm to protect myself from the attack of a British soldier, and right on time as he was just about to pierce me with his sword. Janus was right, this was not the time or the place; there were more pressing matters, like the guy trying to kill me…

Who dropped dead in front of me, as Tyler, a kid no older than 14, stabbed him in the back with a rusty lance.

I was between gratitude and horror, but I couldn’t dwell on it so I nodded towards Tyler who didn’t see me because he was already running towards a different British with his back to him. What he was doing wasn’t honorable, but I wasn’t about to start arguing. If it saved our lives, then welcome.

I was facing now a tall and skinny man, his skin was pale and his teeth were crooked and blackened. But his eyes… His eyes held fear. I expected to see rage or contempt, but I was faced with what I knew was the same look in my eyes. This was a man who was fighting probably for the same reasons I was. He had to defend himself and his family. He had no other choice but to face his fears and fight.

I loathed the way my sword swiped across his shoulder, his ratty shirt doing nothing to protect him, as I knew mine would do. But this was not a moment for compassion, although as he fell I felt my heart break a little.

“I’m sorry, I am so sorry” I started saying. And every time my sword met flesh, I would mutter the same words, over and over again, like a lunatic.

I don’t know when I started crying, all I know is I stopped when I felt Janus pat my back.

“It’s over, kid, ye can let go of that now” and he went to gather the men and count our losses.

I stood there and kept weeping for a while, until I noticed the men shuffling back to where we came from. I started following them, and saw our enemies carrying the bodies of their comrades, to give them a proper burial. I looked at the sky, praying to God if He was hearing me that their souls found their rest. I did the sign of the Holy Cross, and walked away.

Omniscient POV

Henry did the sign of the Holy Cross and ran, sword in shield in hand, towards the enemies. His brown roughspun pants and tunic, stained with green and brown, spoke of his trade as a farmer, as did his stout frame and suntanned complexion. He was pale now, as thoughts of his peaceful life, now overcome by a war he didn’t want any part of, invaded his mind.

“T’is no time to be daydreaming, Henry! You wanna end up like a slaughtered pig?!” Yelled a big man, bald but with a healthy, bushy reddish beard. “Move, you dimwitted sack of yam!” he yelled again, pushing Henry out of the way.

That seemed to get him out of his reverie, and he raised his sword and shield to defend himself against the British man who was now in front of him. They exchanged blows, but he slipped on something and fell at the mercy of the foe’s sword, when he saw the British sputter blood and start sliding down. Henry moved quickly, regaining his defensive stance as best as he could, to avoid being crushed by the dying British man, only to see Tyler, a kid no older than 14, retrieving a rusty lance from the slain corpse. The look on his eyes was empty, and Henry felt a cold shiver run down his spine.

Focused now, he raised his sword and shield and went to face another foe, his heightened senses capturing all the details of his surroundings and nothing of them at the same time. His gaze was on the man in front of him, light brown hair matted with sweat, dirt and blood; brown eyes; pale, sickly greenish skin betraying the hunger he must have suffered; cracked lips that showed crooked, blackened teeth in what could be a grimace or a crazy smile. Henry raised his shield to stop a blow and countered with a swipe that cut through the man’s flesh. Both of them opened their eyes widely, one in agony and the other in fear, as Henry’s lips let out an apology:

“I’m sorry, I am so sorry”

The British man never lost his smile as he fell, a pool of blood beneath him, and Henry could not stop muttering “I’m sorry, so sorry, I am sorry” as he swiped his sword left and right, trying his hardest not to die. Fear can do that to a man, you can either run, escape from your problems or face them and do your best to stay alive. He had to take the latter, as he had a family to look out for. They had already lost his dad; he would not leave his mother and little sisters to fend for themselves.

The fighting continued for either a few minutes or a few days, he didn’t know anymore. As he stood there, looking at all the devastation, he started to cry. A few minutes passed before he felt a strong hand gripping his shoulder. It was Janus.

“It will pass” he said with sadness in his eyes “this that yer feeling, it will pass” and left to gather the remaining men to count their losses.

Henry stood there for a few more minutes, looking at the sky and praying for all the lives lost, friend or foe, did the sign of the Holy Cross, and joined his partners in the trek back home.

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