editorial note: the real meat of this post can be found in the comments.
I've been dreaming more with this WIP than I have in a long time. The other night, I dreamed I killed someone with a sword. But it was more than that, more real than usual. I felt the slight resistance of flesh, the catch of bone. I had to turn the blade to correct the angle, set my weight behind it, and grip the hilt tightly with both hands to put the blade where I needed it to go. Sweat slicked my back and chest. My stomach heaved and my heart thudded. My opponent, a man, cried out before he died. I had to yank hard to get my sword back out of the man's torso--I was going to need it because more enemies were coming. But I froze, staring at my victim. His blood dripped from the sword, smelling hot. Never once did I realize that I wasn't really there, killing someone who would have killed me first, given half a chance.
I came awake in a near panic, my hands gripping nothing in the darkness over my bed. I was back in my own safe life, feeling guilty. It wasn't real. It was just a dream.
I appreciate the experience, which, fortunately, is as likely as I'm to come to killing someone. But my question for you all, some of you soldiers among you, some of you with lives I know nothing about: Have you ever killed anyone? Do you know anyone who has? Feel free to post anonymously. Macabre topic, I know, but I tire of writing of killing as if it's nothing, as if the other character is a wall to climb over, not a real, living human being. Trinidad is not that way. He is forced to kill sometimes, but those deaths live on within him, change him. So teach me, if you know, how that is.