Hopeless – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

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Hopeless

Here’s an old piece of prose I wrote years ago. I think it’s post-worthy, but tell me what you think:

 

You feel the darkness around you, wrapping you like a blanket in its misty arms. Fog fills the trenches around you. Visibility is limited, you can’t even see past the sleeping for five men over. You ache from the day behind you, yet a relief has swept over you. One day gone, one more day you have survived.

Hell, that’s what we are in, you tell yourself. Every day that goes by, another day in the existence you long to free yourself from. Yet you cannot bring yourself to die. You must go on, you chant silently in your head as you force yourself to go through the motions of another day.

Now you wait in sleepless silence for the approach of dawn, heralding a new day of mortality and bloodshed. Sleep evades you, the stillness of the night an eerie contrast to the ear-shattering sounds of the day. Yet a welcome thing it is, for it signals a pause, however short, in the madness of daytime. Sleeps comes; fitfully at first, then deeply as you yield to its blissful depths.

Time stands still.

 

Morning dawns. The sound of the sun rising over the hill wakes you, nature stirring with the first signs of life. Light forces itself past your eyelids. Men around you stir, grumbling and groaning as Sergeant goes around waking people with the point of his boot.

Clutching your standard M-1 rifle; you struggle to your feet, vigorously scrubbing sleep from your eyes. Orders are issued, rations are broken out, standard procedure for waking up on a battlefield ensues. Slowly the army is mobilized, a shred of organization returns as the wakefulness returns.

Time to die.

 

Staccato bursts of machine guns fill the air around you. The air is raining lead, death following in its wake. You haven’t even jumped the wall separating you from the carnage that you are about to enter, and already the rifle feels slick in your grasp.

An errant bead of sweat drips into your eye, the salt stinging fiercely. You quickly brush it aside and adjust your helmet, tightening the straps one last time. Around you men whisper nervously amongst themselves, praying quietly or conversing in hushed tones. Each knows this moment could be their last.

The command comes.

 

You don’t even feel your legs pound the ground as you run, eyes narrowed for something to shoot. One thought fills your head: Don’t stop running. Nothing else matters; not even your friends dropping around you. The only concern you have is to not let your numb legs cease their incessant churning.

Sand kicks up in front of you, behind you, either side of you. Lead fills the sky, taking its toll on the oncoming soldiers. Out of the corner of your eye you see men falling like ten-pins, but still you force your legs to move. No time for sentiment.

Sentiment gets you killed.

 

You stare into the expanse of the sky, eyes glassy and dull. Life slowly drips out of you and fills the dust with its ochre pigment. Breath coming in short rasps, time is short. One moment you are eating up the distance with your feet, the next you are soaking up the dust with your back.

A quick punch hits you as you run, knocking the wind out of you. Suddenly your legs are no longer beneath you, but over in the distance somewhere next to Sergeant’s head. No pain, just a sickening realization: You are living dead. Though you aren’t currently dead, you soon will be.

You will never go home.

 

One thing floats through your mind in you last moment of consciousness: War is Hell.

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1 Comment

  1. marianne

    Well written ! Makes you feel the vanity of it all ! Agree with the conclusion !

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