So a bit of background prior to the story. It is a culmination of emotion for Mag, who after going through the death of his friends, have a child die in his arms as he attempted to save it ( http://www.furaffinity.net/view/19634664/ ) and looking the parents of one his brothers in arms to inform them that their beloved son had died ( http://www.furaffinity.net/view/20341222/ ) Mag has reached a point where all the pain, and the suppressed emotion, all the guilt, is at a breaking point, and he can no longer fight those personal demons on his own. Within that context, here is the story of Guilt...
“For those who’ve served, we will remember,” the Chaplain stated in conclusion of his internment service. “Ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the rendition of final honors to our fallen brother.” On the Chaplain’s, cue a member of the honor guard pressed a golden trumpet smartly to his lips filling the air with the mournful tune of “Taps”.
Mag struggled to maintain his military bearing as the song for the fallen reached its crescendo. Thoughts of his last moments with Staff Sergeant Stymel filled his mind. [i]Damnit man, why couldn’t you have reached out to me? You seemed fine at our last gym session last week… Why didn’t you let me know your personal demons were starting to get the best of you? I could have carried you through that figh-[/I]
The sound of the 21-gun salute snapped Mag’s thoughts back to reality. Mag solemnly watched as members of the Honor Guard recovered the flag draped upon the coffin, and crisply folded it into the perfect tri-fold to be handed as a final memento to Stymel’s widow. Upon inspection and approval by the Sergeant of the Guard, the flag was gently handed to Mrs. Stymel, as the Sergeant of the Guard uttered the final words of the ceremony, “Ma’am, it is our deepest regret to lay your husband to rest, please accept this flag from a grateful nation, and rest in the knowledge that he is an irreplaceable member of our team.”
Turmoil returned to Mag’s mind as he watched Mrs. Stymel fraily accept the final earthly reminder of her husband. Upon the conclusion of the ceremony Mag approached Mrs. Stymel to attempt to express his condolences. He struggled to find the words to convey the sense of loss felt by those who knew him, and upon looking her in the eye, Mag fought to keep an even tone upon uttering his commiserations: “Mrs. Stymel, I am truly sorry for your loss. May your husband’s soul find peace in the ethereal realm, and find solace in knowing that you will meet once again on the eternal plain. Though there is nothing I can do to ease your pain, know that amongst his brothers in arms, he will not be forgotten.” Tears began to run down her face anew as Mag uttered the words to her. Upon the completion of his remarks, Mrs. Stymel embraced him tightly, “I know you and Mike were close, so I beg of you, don’t blame yourself for this, none of us knew he’s reached that point.” Mrs. Stymel release Mag, and bid a kind farewell, allowing Mag to depart from the ceremony grounds.
Mrs. Stymel’s words echoed through Mag’s mind as he departed the cemetery. [I]But how… How am I not at least partly responsible for not seeing this? I’d seen indicators, I knew not all was well with him, why didn’t I say something? Perhaps if I’d stopped a moment to see what was causing the change in behavior, I…[/I] Mag’s eyes began to well up as the thought began to form in his head. [I]I could have stopped him from taking his own life…[/I] Guilt, frustration, and regret began to gnaw at Mag as he drove home. Upon arriving at the driveway, however, Mag gathered himself, and forced a stoic expression onto his demeanor.
Entering the house, a concerned Kizzie greeted Mag. “How did the service go?” She asked of the haggard looking canine, her features brightened intently in search of an answer. “It was… moving…” Mag stated aloofly as he walked to his room. “I’m sorry, I need to think, I’m just gonna go change and try to sort through his things, alright?” Kizzie’s ears and tail drooped as she felt rebuffed by Mag’s indifferent tone. “Oh… ok Mag, but if I can help in any way… please…” the faint click of a closing door was the only response she received. Bowing her head, Kizzie finished her plea nonetheless, “please, don’t shut me out, don’t bear this pain tearing at your soul alone.”
Upon changing from his dress uniform into more casual attire, Mag began sorting through Stymel’s issued gear, ascertaining which pieces were to be returned to the issue facility, and which should be delivered to the family. As he sifted through Sergeant Stymel’s earthly effects, thoughts raced around those whom he’d lost. Karah, Dennis, and now Stymel. How many more friends must I lose till this world claim before it can find itself at peace? Rummaging through the, assorted gear Mag picked up a set of identification tags worn by Sergeant Stymel. As Mag gazed upon the vestige of this Soldier’s life, something deep inside cracked, freeing the raw emotion pent up inside through Mag’s efforts to suppress it. Tears began to flow and Mag began to rage at his loss of control. Tags in hand, Mag began punching the wall, screaming through the tears, “How is it not MY fault! I saw it, I KNEW, I could have stopped him! I…” At a loss for words Mag simply continued to beat the wall, ignoring the torn wallpaper and increasing damage done to the plywood.
Alarmed by the commotion, Kizzie flung open the door, “Mag!” She gasped, “Mag, what are you doing, stop! You’ll injure yourself at this rate!” Kizzie rushed to Mag’s side, grabbed his arms and turned him to face her. Looking compassionately into his eyes, she drew his face into hers. Pressing her forehead against his, Kizzie attempted to console Mag, “Please Mag, let me in, let me help, you don’t have to face these demons alone”. Mag pulled away and turned back to the ruined wall, sobbing incoherently. “I ca.. I… I c…” Mag choked as he fell to his knees, struggling to find words through each new surge of emotion. Sobbing deeply, Mag only managed a single phrase as he fully knelt to the ground. “Please… he- help-me”, Mag moaned, gasping through the tears. Without hesitation, Kizzie knelt behind him, gently embracing him, placing her nose against his cheek. “Oh Mag…” Kizzie whispered, “It’ll be ok. Don’t worry, I’m here for you, till the end of the line.”
[B]----- End Story: Credits -----[/B]
The sensational artwork was done by the wonderful tatiilange, http://www.furaffinity.net/user/tatiilange/ who very gracefully accepted this commission, and to whom I'm extremely grateful for the amount of care and detail she put into the image. Please, go check her page, as it is filled with other wonderful things, characters, and stories that she is developing as well!
That said, hopefully there will be some happier, more light hearted stories for Mag in some of the coming comms :)