Shadow and Light
Shadows and light merge in the jungle. In a heart beat, a tree limb breaks off its perch and soars through the forest on man-sized wings. The invisible birds call out, trying to find each other.
They must be lonely, to call out to each other in all this space. The man avoids thinking about his family in Hanoi.
He can't ignore his longing as he walks through the foliage. His hands slip on the gun barrel and his back tickles with sweat running down into his pants. The soldier jumps at the snap of twigs and he reminds himself not to shoot at anything; otherwise, he'd shoot at everything.
He examines a thread stretched across the path, sparkling in a shaft of light. Is it a spider web or a trip wire leading to a mine. Dangerous to insects or people?
When he looks up at the path again, he sees a triangular face, half-hidden under a broad leaf. The luminous eyes bore into his. The man wonders what the tiger sees. Would a skinny Vietnamese man would make a good meal?
The soldier stands like a rock, trying not to breathe, wondering if he can work his hand around to the trigger, aim, and fire before the tiger leaps at him. He prays for his family, not for himself.
Suddenly a flock of birds shoot up from the underbrush. The man sinks to his knees. The face of the tiger explodes into butterflies and parrots.