A soldier’s letter home

I smiled in my dream as I felt your tongue in my ear and awoke to find you naked on the bed, right arm propping up your head as your blonde hair draped across your face.  I reached over and  pushed your hair off your bare shoulder and ran a finger down your arm; I saw your sweet crooked smile and you biting your lip before you said, “Touch me.”

When I awoke it was just rain dripping off my helmet into my ear.

We are two weeks into this march and for the first time I feel disconnected from home.  Everything looks the same, cast in the grey dullness of war. Broken buildings, shattered trees, a pitted landscape; we huddle in the holes we have dug in the earth, crouching low.  Shells scream overhead and crush hills into rocks and rocks into dust.  We lost three more men over night.

War is all hard and black, and we must become hard to fight it. Do not be fooled  by the photographs of single yellow daffodils growing out of the blasted grey soil. They are not symbols of hope, but mere damaged survivors like a mother and child huddled in their shattered home.  The damage has been done and soon enough the air turns poison.  Someone will run such a photo in a newspaper and say it is a symbol of hope .

The only hope in war is that it ends; the only solace in this stricken place is that the mother and child escape, and the sunshine steals the chill from the air that falls silent, absent the drone of war. The only relief is that the coffee is hot and we survive the night to drink it.

The only dream is you.

You stood in the dark hallway and let the shawl drop to the floor, the thin straps of your beautiful gown sliding off your shoulders. It was the most beautiful gown on the most beautiful woman I had known; your mouth was soft and warm.  You leaned against me in the rain, then turned and pressed yourself to me, the silence of perfection. I took your hand in the crowd. It was the softest hand I had ever held and I knew I wanted to hold it forever.  “Touch me,” you said, and so I did, one last time.  Your face and lips, and breasts and belly, thighs; touch me, come out of your  loneliness and into my warmth, reach out to me, there is a place for you here.

And I reached and touched and was wrapped in you.

I, the undeserving.

How could have I walked away all those times and left you perplexed, sadness growing, the brightness of your soft eyes dimmed to hardness with sorrow?

They say we fight for causes, to laugh and run free, to yell and argue and love and hate and make messes that we clean up; they say we fight for what’s right and to end what’s wrong.

And I say they are misinformed, for fighting will never end the causes, never determine right or wrong; fighting only ends life.

So that is what I fight for. The life that you are. The life that flows through you as first we touch, then kiss, then enter; how selfish I am for taking what you give.

It is what sustains me in the darkness as shells explode  around  us, as bullets tear flesh and the cries crack off the leaden sky, what sustains me as I fear that I am next.

It is what sustains me in the darkest, soulless times; what I will remember  when my place on earth is marked only by some marble cross in a field of millions.


About michaelstephendaigle

I have been writing most of my life. I am the author of the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. "The Swamps of Jersey (2014); "A Game Called Dead" (2016) -- a Runner-Up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Author Contest; and "The Weight of Living" (2017) -- First Place winner for Mysteries in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards Contest.
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