Chapter 0:

The War Hero Who Just Wanted to Paint

My Sweet Gentle Veteran (Under Reconstruction)

It was early spring when the landscape was new and washed in the green of new leaves. The birds build their nest atop the maple trees, as luscious light weeps down from the window of a humble abode near the woods.

I was there, standing inside a room littered with contradictions. Rows and rows of dirt chipped paintings clung to the walls, whilst numerous brass cross medals lay scattered about, dusty and holey. A prized medallion with the almighty medal of honour was boxed up on an unremarkable end table, carelessly placed like some used brushes. A sniper rifle of the newest model leaned up against the wall in the corner, surrounded by half used bottles of paints. A letter cheque mentioning Veteran aid lies side by side with a newspaper, whose headline reads "The End of War." In short, war hero memorabilias were strewn across the room along with various art supplies.

In the middle of it all a figure could be seen sitting on a stool. A slim girl donning a long white dress, with hair white as snow and eyes purple as lavender. Her gentle and kind face was sullied by a sharp scar across her right eye. She stared blankly at a large canvas resting atop an easle, with a dry paintbrush sticking out of her mouth.

I by no means am an artist. The extent of my art skills only went as far as using pencils to make a scenery consisting of two mountain peaks, a sun in the middle, and some "m" shapes that are supposed to resemble birds. So, when looking at the work that she has done, I couldn't help but notice how special she was. The beauty she had brought to the painting far exceeded anything I ever could have created. However, even I, with all of my vapid ignorance, am aware that paint brushes are supposed to be held by your hands. Not sticking out of your mouth like a cigarette. She unfortunately was unable to. The war took everything from her, including her ability to paint. It truly was a poignant sight.

Her eyes were devoid of light, as if she was absorbed by something else after staring at that blank canvas. Her mind went adrift, plunging into the abyss of uncertainty. She has been like this for the past hour.

I’ve been here for almost a year, but I still found myself gripping my hands and gritting my teeth to hold back this wave of sadness I felt every time I saw her like this. Imagining the pain she had to go through, the sadness and the hopelessness she endured…

Entering the room, I called her out.


She did not respond. I inch closer and tapped her gently on the shoulder.

“Lieutenant Caulia.”


I heard the paint brush she was biting fell down on the wooden floor. She turned to look at me, and smiled.

“Ah, it’s you, Lonnete.”

“Yes… it is me. Come Lieutenant. I’ve prepared dinner for you.”

“Gee, I told you before not to call me that, didn’t I? I’m not that much older than you, you know. You can just call me by my name.”

“But you’re a hero…“

She sighs. “Heroes huh… That nonsense again. Heroes don’t kill people, Lonnete.”

“But Lieutenant…”

“Well, suit yourself.”

I glanced at the large blank canvas sitting in front of her. Below her, a wooden paint palette with dry oil paint lies untouched.

“Um… Do you need any help with that, Lieutenant?” I asked. gesturing towards the canvas and the paint palette.

“Oh, this? Ah, not really. I haven’t gotten any inspiration to paint anything at all, haha. Maybe sometimes later.”

“Okay. Here, your walking stick.”

“Thanks Lonnete. ”

“Of course, Lieutenant. I’m here to assist you, after all.”

I handed the walking stick to her and helped the Lieutenant up by supporting her on my shoulder. Our motion was quite awkward, she was still a soldier after all. Even though she looks slim, her firm posture quite easily overwhelms mine. Either that, or it’s because I haven’t been getting much sleep lately… I have to be careful to not cause further pain to her because of my negligence. Not only did she lack a pair of arms to support herself, she couldn’t walk properly with her legs after all.

I walked with her through the corridor leading up to the dining room. At one point, I stepped onto something. When I look down to see, it was a crumpled month-old newspaper. The headlines read the opening for a certain theatrical audition whose deadlines had long since passed. For a moment, my mind went into contemplation, I still have that dream of being a cinema star hanging up somewhere. Though that would have to wait, as now, I have more pressing matters to attend to. I turned to the Lieutenant to inform her of the dinner.

“We’ll be having roasted chicken with asparagus soup for dinner. I hope that is to your liking…”I said, shyly.

“That sounds good, I can’t wait. Your cooking is good, you know!” The lieutenant said, enthusiastically.

The Lieutenant, she always acts like this around me. And I mean… I know… I know why. I know why she acted like someone who is my senior in highschool. I know why she tried to be friendly towards me. She is indeed only three years older than me, that’s enough for us to be in the same school given the right circumstances. And she didn’t have the intimidating aura that your typical soldier gives off. She looked and acted like a normal girl, like me. She wants me to see her as such, but how could I? After learning of her story, after knowing what she went through…

And despite it all. While she may give me a gentle smile every time I’m around. I can’t help but to feel that her eyes were always… vacant. It is as if she’s not really looking at me despite directing her eyes my way. She was always seeing something else. It is always apparent everytime I leave her on her own for an extended period of time and I can only imagine what she’s actually seeing. I always feel bad seeing her like that. I want to help her but I don’t know how. Can I really help her?

Unlike her, I am not a hero. I'm merely just a maid...


Taylor J
Chiba Ritsu