The stench of death hung heavy in the air around the camp. Soldiers, barely old enough to be called men, lay wounded on makeshift canvas beds. A general air of malaise petered through the army hospital as delirious soldiers cried out in their sleep, writhing in pain, their finger nails digging into the blood and excrement-caked sheets. As every day passed, more and more men were brought to the little encampment. Makeshift gurneys lined the tents, their maimed occupiers waiting for the sweet mercy of death to relieve them of their physical torment. Elizabeth, a trainee nurse just shy of 19, watched as every day soldiers came in to the camp on stretchers and went out in body bags. The men lucky enough to return home, did so less an eye or limb. There was no mercy in war, of that she was certain… Continue reading
Rupert stared curiously at his brother as he bent down to pick up a toy doll laying in the yard. Oblivious to the fact that he was being watched, Alistair flipped the strands of long yellow blonde hair over and fixed her dress, righting the doll. “They’ve got children”, he said quietly, glancing back at Rupert. The two young men stood for a moment taking stock of the sight before them. It all seemed so ordinary.
The little bungalow stood haphazardly on a half-acre site, dense foliage shielding it away from the rest of the world. Thick green ivy smothered the walls of the house and a trellis, which perhaps once sported a fragrant array of roses, sat weather beaten and neglected. Echoes of children long gone were etched on a tree just inside the yard, their initials ‘S’ and ‘J’ carved into the gnarled bark. Continue reading
Sam opened his tired eyes again, the ceiling hazily looked down on him, a mirage of peeling white paint. He cleared his throat awkwardly, feeling the roughness of the night before and tried to sit up. As he reached out to pull the crumby moth-eaten blanket off, he noticed a shadow at the door.
Lottie stood there, her dishevelled dark hair shoved hastily in a topknot, eyes bleary and unwilling to meet his. On her arm was a bruise the size of a two euro coin. The cigarette she held was unlit.
As Sam looked at her, he realized there was a low but audible hum coming from next door, straining to hear the words, he wondered who it was. He bowed his head for a moment- cradling it ever so gently, using his thumb and index finger to trace the little pulsing sensation he still felt along the ridge of his forehead. Continue reading