Thoughts of A Dying Soldier
Well, this, again, is from my Writer’s Craft class way back in high school. But I kinda like it.
From what I remember, the influences on this piece were Saving Private Ryan and Sin City.
It’s a little late for Remembrance Day, but at least I got around to it…right?
This was originally written on September 13, 2007.
The sergeant gives me orders:
Take the beach; don’t mess up.
My comrades sweat and shudder beside me from the chills we feel as we approach the shore.
“10 seconds!” comes the call from the boat crew leader. The boat slows to a stop and we run out.
As I jump in the water, it shocks me to the point where I gasp for breath. But I’m still underwater; so instead of [warm August] air, I get a lung-full of frigid, salty ocean. Miraculously, I reach the shore. I’m on all fours, spitting out mouthfuls of seawater.
I look up, there are my new-found friends, lying dead on the beach, victims of machine-gun fire and land mines. I’d only known them for 10 hours, and now [they’ve] been reduced to a pile of dismembered parts.
This is Dieppe, August 1942.
A mine goes off about 15 feet away from me. It sends me into the sand with half of the sergeant along for the ride. Tears brim in my eyes and I wish I was home. I crawl back towards the boat. Cowardly, yes, I know. But nothing else matters. I don’t want to die. My comrades are yelling at me to turn around and [are] calling me obscene names. But I don’t care; I just want to get back in the boat.
I reach the boat, only to find that it has been overturned. I crawl behind it and my knees instinctively draw up to my face. The tears are flowing freely now. All I can hear are the cries and screams of my dying comrades. In fact, I don’t even deserve to call them [that]. I abandoned them in their time of need.
My thoughts go back to my wife. Beautiful Anna. She means the world to me. And my daughter, Bridget. I wonder how she will react when I’ve broken my promise of coming home. They’ll [tell her that I’ve died] gloriously on the battlefield. But [this is] nowhere near glorious right now. I don’t deserve to be remembered.
Get up! Show everyone you’re worth a damn! Get up!
I stand. Only to feel a giant rip in my stomach two seconds later. My legs give and I fall into the water. I look [down] at my stomach; or rather, what’s left of it. All I can see is [pieces] of my flesh in a cloud of red. My ears are popping. I look for the surface, but it’s 20 feet over my head. My rifle is pulling me down [at] the neck.
Silence now. My dying moments. There is no pain anymore, just cold. There is no hope of living, just give up. I let the air out of my lungs and [allow] the cold, bloody water [to] fill my lungs.
Anna. My darling Anna. I love you. Don’t mourn for me. I was a coward, and will die a coward. Tell Bridget, 10-year-old Bridget — so beautiful — that I love her.
I close my eyes. This is how it ends. Goodbye, Anna. Goodbye, Bridget. I’ll look to you with loving eyes from hell.
Let go. Just let go.
It’s over. It’s all over. Just let go.
Let go. It’s over. Let go…