Author: MyssFae PM
Discontinued, two little chapter/projects. One on the war and one on the Depression.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 2 - Words: 5,138 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Updated: 05-06-11 - Published: 02-20-11 - id: 2892979
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
October 31st, 1915
This war is becoming long. I'm sick of it, but a fierce sense of pride in Germany keeps me here- it wakes me up in the morning, it puts me to sleep at night, and it makes me just mad enough to jump out of trenches into direct fire. I'm fearful everyday, not only of shellfire and the death lingering in every dank corner of the hole in which I reside, but that if a miracle occurs and I return to Germany with little more than a scratch, then I will not be the same man I was when I departed.
I've promised myself, however, to try not to linger on the negative side of things. If optimism is the only thing I have left, then I'll cling to it until that too runs out- much like food and supplies. Anyways, sometimes when we gain land we find the strangest thing from the Allies- discarded letters (although they're not of much interest. . . I still don't read English, despite the crude lessons from several of the privates I share a room with), weapons, and tools. Why just the other day I found a shovel- or at least I was told it was a shovel- left behind from a troop of Canadian soldiers. It was the oddest thing- the stem was short, and there was a gaping hole in it! How do they expect to dig trenches with shovels with gaping holes in the spade?
You've asked me what I do on a daily basis and I'm afraid at this point my optimism runs out. Feel free to skip this part if your interest isn't in it, for it will only bore you and in parts maybe frighten you. I've promised myself, however, that I will not sugar-coat it for you. My day begins with wake up call. This, I believe, can be as bad as the fighting sometimes. They force me out of sweeter dreams and drive me into a world of death and depravity. Whichever method they use to wake me- whether it be one of the younger men shaking me until I wake up, or the bugle call. . . I snapped at one of the younger ones the other day while he tried to wake me up, he couldn't have been more than fifteen. Guilt makes me sick when I think about it, but I could not help myself. Waking up is so bitter for me.
A few chores are performed, very basic things, then our day begins. Depending on where I am I will do different things- the front lines I would prepare for battle, the support line I may get a little bit more time to do other such jobs, the reserve lines give me time for a card game or so before the fighting begins- but the thing I dread is the front lines and special missions. At the front lines they sometimes get it in their heads that we should try and sneak over to take a few prisoners. They ask for volunteers- why do they ask for volunteers, do you think Darling? I wonder if they must ever stop to think what they are asking of common men? They are asking boys who were no more than fifteen, or naught more than bakers for villages, all of them are asked to put their lives in special danger. I've only seen one man refuse- a single man looked the commander in the eyes and said "I'm not feeling too hot. Taking me would endanger the mission." They stared at him for a moment- eyes burned into him from all angles, and I'm ashamed to say that even I stared. I had never heard anyone say no before, and I wondered if he would be punished for cowardice. Finally the commander and the rest of the volunteers left. The man who had refused left to go patrol or some other job, and the men began to talk about him. They called him a coward and they questioned his loyalty to Germany. I couldn't say anything- I still can't. No one will speak to him at the moment, and I'm afraid to in case they think that I'm disloyal as well. In the trenches you just can't afford the men to be against you. It's a wet, diseased, bug and frog and lice infested machine. The cogs- us- can be as miserable as they want, as long as they work together to get the job done.
After things die down and assuming that I haven't done the same (I can imagine the look on your face as you read that, and in your next letter you're going to tell me the joke was in bad taste considering the circumstances) it's back to the cot. Remember how I used to complain about the old bed that we bought when we first bought the house? How it creaked and whined when I would roll over in my sleep, and how the smallest shift in movement would move it across the floor? I don't even want to discuss the things I would do to have that bed with me right now. The cot is a heavy frame with a thin mattress on it. It doesn't creak and it doesn't move. The mattress may as well not even be there, but the army can't afford to concentrate on such luxuries. Or maybe it was just the ideas we went into the war with? I know when I enlisted I figured we'd be covering so much land that I could take a break for Christmas, or maybe sneak away to see you on your birthday, or Saint Valentines Day. A year later. . . I have a bad feeling I'm going to miss a lot more Christmases. But anyways, back to what I was saying. . . maybe with the expectance of a short war they figured we could suffer with it for a few months. Do they even think about it now, though? Do any of those high ranking men look down on us and think "They're all going to die. They may as well have a comfortable bed" (I'm sorry for that one as well. I know you hate when I talk about Death).
You asked me to describe battle and the trenches. Well. . . how to put it to you? I'll start with the sounds. At the front lines. . . imagine standing in the middle of a parade with a band marching and crashing their symbols together around you, right by your head. Imagine people falling all around you, and imagine yourself holding something dangerous that you can use to stop the falling and stop the marching band and make silence come back. Imagine being unable to use it because you're paralyzed.
Then things may calm for a moment. Everything slows down If it doesn't pause altogether, and you look around you. There are people at your feet, and some people that you don't recognize. You realize that through all the noise and confusion and gut wrenching fear and seeming paralysis, you managed to stop some of it. Oddly enough, it makes you feel worse. Bile stings your throat, making it burn, but you swallow it down because the noise and confusion and screaming is coming back. Screaming too, I forgot to mention that- there's always someone you can hear shrieking at the top of their lungs.
It gets worse at night. The noise and confusion and screams and panic stop, and they throw you into silence. No one feels much like talking, except the younger boys (who you know very well I wouldn't be able to speak to in such a state). Even they speak in reverent whispers, as if the first one to break the chilling silence covering everything like a calm ocean will get a bayonet through the chest. It's horrible, the silence, because in the silence all you hear is the ringing in your ears.
Bed is prompt, because the army can not have sleepy soldiers on their hands. When you close your eyes, all you see is flashes and bursts of light. The ringing becomes unbearable, and I think it's the only way I can sleep anymore- the ringing becomes so unbearable my body just shuts down into a tentative sleep.
The visual image of everything out there. . . everything is grey. Everything is grey and dark green and black, with the occasional flash of bright, splattering red across your vision. Nothing is distinctive- there are only vague shapes and rapidly moving globs of soldier. A few men have told me they've found a distinction- that they can easily detect men in the field, and even separate friend from foe. I can not, and I do not understand how one could. My eyes flash from point to point to point, until everything becomes one unified glob. I can not stop my eyes for fear of someone sneaking up on me when I'm not looking, therefore I must be looking at everything at once. It feels as if I have not used my weapon the entire time I'm out there, until my mind slows everything down for fear of overworking itself, and I see everything for a second in painful clarity. Then I fear I've used my weapon too much, because I'm too far forward. If I've gotten this far, then I must have used it. I see a brief flash of scarlet, and my bayonet is bloody. My mind and body become two separate entities and I feel for a moment as if I am merely an observer to the carnage. Then, everything blurs together again and I'm back to shrieking and shooting and stabbing to keep myself alive.
The smell is miserable. I know a lady such as yourself has never smelt the decaying flesh of a body, or seen the true ugliness of the world in the form of a rat nibbling at the dead skin- I daresay if you were as delicate as others your age, you may have never even seen a frog or beetle in real life. The other day, during a brief lull where I merely had to supervise the men- no, rather, the boys- keeping watch, because the commander didn't quite trust them, I watched a rat eating a body that was a month old if it were a day. I was revolted; I could have heaved right into my lap as I sat there, but I couldn't look away. For a second I was trapped in a macabre fascination, watching the rodent eat and I wondered about the state of things in the world. We're all merely rats, Darling Elfie, eating away at the flesh of society. Dare we call ourselves civilized? I can not, in good conscience, any longer think of myself as any sort of gentlemen. Such men do not impale his fellow men on bayonets, and such men do not feel the gritty, blocky texture of a small grenade in his hand- he does not feel the small weight in his palm, rubbing the dirt and gravel particles into his skin- and feel safe.
Of course Elfie, you must think that I've become as disloyal as I fear. No, love, it has not gotten to such a point. Although the war itself is sickening, and although I feel as if one more day here will surely drive me to the brink and cause me to become some sort of wild, demonic thing, my life in comparison to those of the German people means very little. I fight for them, and I fight for Germany herself. Germany did not send me here, and neither did her people. I was sent to war by man, and though I may resent my circumstances, no one did anything out of spite. Without people like me- more sensitive than I had ever imagined, but handy with a gun- what would Germany become? Neutral? Would we become neutral like Switzerland, or Belgium? The day that a powerful country came barrelling through our fair land, using her as a stepping stone to a country who would put up a worthy fight- the thought makes me sicker than waking up in the morning. No, I must be here; the military is the most important thing Germany has to her name. It is absolutely essential, every man and every boy here is as significant as if they were Kings. No matter what my situation I will always remember the importance of what I am doing; and I must say that bemoaning the conditions to you is greatly relaxing. I know I must worry you sick sometimes.
Please, Elfie, do not worry so much. I may sound morbid and frightening compared to the man you agreed to marry, but I promise you that when I get home things will be different- or rather, the same as always. You will sit by the fire and read, listening to my boring stories and occasionally smiling, taking pity on me (don't deny it, because I can not imagining someone finding such monotonous stories as amusing as you claim to). We will have many children, and a greater house than ever you could imagine. Things will be fine. We will be fine. I will be fine.
P.S. You asked me what I missed most about home. I think aside from you (which is a very obvious and cheesy answer, and certainly one you already knew was going to come) the thing I miss most is order. The trenches are a well-oiled machine, every man knows his part and every job must and does get gone, but it's chaos. Under the strict timing it is all chaos. I miss being able to sit with you and watch the fire in the fireplace, knowing that even though we are not working by a schedule that there is order around us, and the world is good and proper. Maybe that as well is why I fight- so men like me may one day sit with women like you and feel secure. I would wish that for anyone, even, dare I say it, the Allies.
Author's Note: I wrote this for a History class, and I kind of enjoy it. I was going to write a story for Klaus and Elfie (have written very rough drafts) but I couldn't decide where I wanted them. However, I learned more German than one Canadian girl would usually know (aside from Mennonites) and developed small personalities. I had my friend youraverageninja check it out and on a scale of one to ten, one being delicious and ten being Justin Bieber, she rated it a two (which is good in my book. I'm sorry for all you fans, but I haven't caught the fever. I had my shot). So, I decided to put it up here so Innocent Blood had a friend. Maybe I'll add more letters (Elfie/Klaus, or more if I can think up a few- when I think up a few if prompted to think of new ones) if people like this one.