Thomas Begins to Write…
Barely able to hold the pencil in his frozen muddy fingers, Thomas started to etch the words on the dirty soggy paper that he had been storing for months in his uniform. The pencil was small and worn, the nib crudely shaved to a point with a small pocket knife that he carried.
Remembering how his handwriting use to flow across the page in small neat lines and swirls, the frustration of struggling to finish the first few words played on his mind.
Eyes that had seen pain and inhuman amounts of suffering, filled with a salty glaze as he began to try to recall them.
Taking a second to compose himself, Thomas looked up at the clay filled gully that had been his home for what seemed forever, but in fact had only been a few months. He could see his fellow soldiers lying on the thinnest planks of wood, helmets rested over their eyes to block out the drizzling rain. Others sat in puddles on the ground talking to each other, seemingly nonchalant of the conditions they lived in. After everything they’d experienced and done since arriving in the hell hole, no one seemed to care about feeling a little cold, they could only focus on what was happening now.
Long boards of wood created makeshift walls with row after row of them stacked in regimented lines as far as the eye could see. Each plank was held in place with a long stake to try to stop the sides from caving in on its inhabitants. Thomas’ eyes fixed on the dull, red smears that stained the wooden grains in a variety of shapes and sizes. Each one was a sobering reminder of a friend that would never return.
There was no comfort to be gained in any of the sights or sounds around him. Closing his eyes and trying to picture happier times at home, on holidays or with his family, only ended up being destroyed by the horrific memory of the last gasps of air that came from the lungs of his dear friend.
Deciding to concentrate once more on the page in front of him, Thomas paused, then slowly began again to write to the one person he longed for, the person whose arms could release his pain and anguish, warm his body and make him feel human again. Before writing any more, he re-read the first two words to give him the necessary strength and motivation he needed to continue.