American Historical Fiction Inspirational

    It's just for duty.

    It's just for duty.

    That thought goes through a soldier's mind more often than not, so often so that one doesn't quite catch it when they are chanting it beneath their breath. They don't listen to the words as much as one would think, instead, they mutter it almost as though it were a prayer, there to comfort when needed, and maybe grant them the propensity needed for the task at hand. One would most definitely not wager the scenario where a soldier stood, facing a mirror and muttering it to himself, fully aware of the meaning and gravity behind each word as he scolded them to himself.

    "It's just for duty."

    Chanted it, again and again, the soldier did, but he didn't have the same numbness as it would back on the field, hugging his gun to his chest, his head clad in a hard helmet, covered in dirt and blood. It didn't have the same insensibility as he stood on the platform, and who was staring back at him was no soldier. No man.

    No. It wasn't Corporal Kurt Dixon who stared back in the reflection, he lost his pencil mustache, and his eyebrows were trimmed to more feminine nature. Everything on him was former, tighter, and shorter, save for the long locks that cascaded over his shoulders, which matched the rich chocolate color of his natural hair.

    "It's just for duty." It would've come out deep, with the hints of his Texas roots, but instead, a soft soprano tone came with the curves of a Berlinerisch accent. He didn't intend for it to come out like that, just as he didn't intend to ever have found himself wearing a long black & white floral printed wrap dress, with matching kitten heels that he could hardly stand.

    "Let's get your hair done." A voice came from behind him, a voice that sounded a bit unrecognizable, but he knew it all too well to forget who it belonged to. A man who went by Armani stood behind him, off of the platform, watching as Kurt- no, he wouldn't dare call himself Kurt anymore, he had gotten into the habit of listening to Greta Wolff, and until his duty was fulfilled, that was what he would listen to. Greta crossed her arms tightly over her chest. The insecurity was taking over, and the feeling rushed all over Wolff's bare legs as they wobbled like a fawn beneath her.

    It's just for duty.

    Greta didn't say anything to Armani as he spoke up, and instead just let the professional do his job. His task. His duty. And it was Greta's duty to fake a German accent, a female German accent. So it was what he-no, she was doing.

    Greta could feel the light tugging of Armani's hands as they began to weave her hair into a masterpiece, and as he did so, the reflection of Fräulein Wolff distorted slightly, and a strange sound came from the lady standing on the platform.

    A tear, and then another, and then another and another. A soldier-no, a lady-a fräulein- He didn't know what he was anymore. He was supposed to be a highly regarded socialite with too much time on her hands, and no man to call her own. But he felt exactly as he was, a man performing a stunt for duty- it's just for duty- he couldn't repeat it to himself anymore, as his voice became weak, it cracked and choked on his words as he tried and tried to continue his facade. But he couldn't. His tears came on too fast and too hard, and all he could do was shake his head. And while his lips spoke one thing, his mind spoke another.

    I am hideous.

    Nobody will ever believe me.

    I can't do this.

    Why me?

    They will never let this go.

    They will never let this go. That thought in specific ran through his mind like a record on repeat. Because he knew, that as soon as he stepped out into public, he would be ridiculed. Ridiculed for the fact he did it. Ridiculed for the fact that he came out in it. Ridiculed for the idea of the mission, and the fact that he even accepted. Which he only did out of the threat of court-martial for desertion. But he'd be mostly ridiculed for the fact that he liked it.

    He liked the dress, and that only made him feel all that much worse. And so more tears came out, followed by a sob that rang into the very core of Armani, as he stopped what he was doing with Kurt-No, Greta's hair, and turned the soldier-lady around and face him. From the crying, his on-spot makeup was now streaked down his cheeks in strokes of black, and the rouge of his mouth was now faded as he chewed harshly on his bottom lip.

    It's just for duty.

    It's just for-

    "I can't do this." That is what finally came out of his mouth, choked and nearly unintelligible as he closed his eyes in shame. Shame for doing it, shame for crying, shame for failing.

    Shame for liking it.

    "Honey." Armani cooed, using his hand to lift Kurt's chin. Armani's chocolate orbs stared into Kurt's hazel ones with a look of sadness, and yet, admiration, even as Kurt had been crying away the makeup he worked hard on. "Don't feel ashamed. You looked beautiful."

    Kurt-Greta remained silent.

    "Look." Armani grabbed the shoulders of the Soldat-Fräulein and turned him to face his reflection once more. "Out of all the people I have disguised and dressed. You are the most beautiful."

    Greta's heart fluttered at that comment. He wanted to cry and yell and scream at him, asking if he really thought so. But at the same time, he wanted to frown and toughen up, do his duty and act like he didn't like the outfits, the feeling, the elegance he felt as he placed the silk around his waist, and the furs along his neck. He wanted to tear them off, but at the same time, he wanted to be Greta. Possibly forever.


    It's just for duty.

    "It's just for duty," Greta repeated shakily, trying to calm himself down. "It's just for duty..."

    But the words began to ring in his head, the expression implanted in his mind. A true sparkling look of admiration as he spoke. You are the most beautiful.

    You are the most beautiful.

    And just as the words rang again and again, like a responder to the silence, another sob came from the boy who was only doing his duty. He was crying because of the operation, crying about the fact he had to do it, crying about the fact he thought the dress was pretty.

    But he didn't think he was pretty.

    What about Hansen? What about Lanesfield? What about Truman? What about the British Officer, Harts, who came up with the idea in the first place? Of course not, because they weren't feminine in nature. Not like Dixon. Not like pretty little Dixon who was forced to do this duty.

    So again, he reminded himself, he chanted under his breath as he cried, and wanted to laugh for crying over something so childish, yet wanted to cry at feeling so infantine. He also wanted to punch the wall and the damned officer who forced him to do this, he wanted to scream at him and leave the army for good, never come back, even if he was branded a deserter. He didn't care. All he wanted was to hide and never be found, yet at the same time, march outside, back to the soldier he used to be, and yell at the officer for making him do this. For making him realize things he never wished to realize. 

    But, instead, he found himself staring back at the mirror, silently standing, watching as the wet streaks on his face reflected off the distant light, his lips were faded to the point where one could no longer tell he was ever wearing lipstick. And the same thought that persistently travels with a soldier, from the moment he touches Bootcamp grounds, ceremonial floors, to the mud and grass and trenches that will become his home forevermore.

    It's just for duty.

May 13, 2022 17:18

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