Over The Top
As I sit in my dugout, puffing a cigarette, I lie back and remember what life was like before the war. Me laughing. Isabelle singing. Annie picking flowers in the meadow. Thomas giggling as I swing him round. Maybe one day I will be able to return to them and enjoy life as I did once before. But probably not ever. And definitely not today.
The officers have announced an attack on the German trenches at 7pm this evening. All day, men had been running around, cleaning guns, polishing bayonets. It had been havoc. But now, as the clock hand creeps stealthily towards the 7 on my watch, everything has fallen silent. Peering out through the gap that serves as an entrance, I can see lights flickering as officers rush around, and hear murmurs as men discuss and argue tactics. But we know what we are to do.
A face appears out of the gloom, to tell us that we need to meet by the ladder. As I walk towards the meeting point, my heart begins to thump in my chest, a steady beat. Da-dum. Da-dum. Da-dum. My senses become more alert; I smell unwashed men and gun smoke. I hear the rough chatter of the other soldiers, gripping their rifles, their faces reflecting off of the deadly fang of metal that sits firmly on their guns. I know the savagery and inhumanity of war. I have seen men sliced down before me like blades of grass, falling at my feet, eyes staring, but not seeing. The constant trickle of blood seeping from their wounds.
Some men exchange jokes and stories, while others sit quietly against the trench walls, silently praying. I am amongst them. I grip the cross dangling from my neck as a drowning man would grip a life buoy. For all the good it would do. I have seen many friends, religious or not, killed in this heartless battle of pride and power.
The officer gives us a pep talk, talking in hushed...