February 3, 2013

Short Story Sunday: Short Stories about War

This short story is from the book Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War, which I received from Net Galley.

"No matter what we do next, the soft tension of the trigger pull is something we'll carry with us forever.  We've assembled Fire and Forget to tell you, because we had to-remember."

#4 Smile, There are IEDs Everywhere by Jacob Siegel

Jacob, Cole, and Jimmy reunite after a year back home from Iraq in New York City.  Jimmy is working as a security guard and playing gigs in which he sings powerful songs about the war (a line of one of Jimmy's songs is where the name of this story came from) while he works to support his wife and kid.  Cole went rogue for a while, even considering re-enlisting, before coming back to go to law school.  The author, Jacob, is floundering- unsure of his place since he returned, including his place with Annie, whom he left behind when he went to war.  

The three land in a pool of nostalgia as they reminisce, argue, and try to make sense of the war and their places in society now.  In turn, Jacob takes us back to a regrettable scene in which he belittles Annie for not understanding details about his time in Iraq, even though he has not been able to verbalize anything that could help her understand.  

The story is a powerful message that coming home from war doesn't mean the end of the struggle, it is just the beginning of a new struggle- a struggle in which the soldiers are given no preparations for.  It's a stark reminder that while our government trains soldiers for battle, there is the need to re-train them to readjust and rejoin society back home.

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