By Sarah Wissmann
I am not famous.
My name will just be one of many on the list of people never found. I think about Annie and Mom back at home. I imagine their reactions. Mom will be a mess, like she was when George died last November. It will be hard for her to lose another child. Annie will be a little more composed, I’m sure, but late at night when she thinks nobody is listening, that’s when she will start to cry.
I’m sorry. I tried to live. I really did.
I wasn’t sure where the bullet came from. There were too many hissing through the air for me to keep track. No warning came when they infiltrated our base.
It was Jimmy who was shot first.
There was a strange moment when he jerked back as though he had been slapped. A growing circle of blood was already dyeing his uniform a dark crimson. Then he crumpled. Dead before he hit the muddy ground.
Everything was happening too fast. There was no time for shock, or for even thought itself. My training kicked in and I shot the nearest soldier and then the guy next to him.
Beside me, Clive was hit in the leg. He let out a grunt of agony and fell to the ground. But like me, the instinct of survival was stronger than the pain, so he resumed shooting again.
It hit me. Zip. I knew it hit me as sure as I knew my own name. For a moment, I was numb, as though I was unable to comprehend the pain slowly seeping into my lungs, right below my heart. I couldn’t even manage a choked cry. Like Jimmy, I fell without any control and ended up face first in the dirt. It smelt dusty, cold and lonely.
What a way to die, I thought. Surrounded by mud and blood. Terror and death. At least, I’ll escape this sad, sad place. I won’t have to sleep in the flooded trenches any more.
I’m sorry, Mom. Stay safe, Annie.
I hoped that my father was okay too. If there was any consolation in dying, at least I would get to see George. Hopefully, the good Lord would give me a safe passage to heaven; I had prayed that morning.
It was Andy. No one else had such a nasally, high pitched voice.
I felt a lurch and I was flipped onto my back. Andy was staring down at me with a look of deepest concern.
“Don’t die, Danny,” he said, more to himself than to me. “You can’t die. You gotta keep fightin’.”
He should have worried about himself. I saw the bullet enter his head, the glazed over look that immediately filled his eyes. His corpse landed right on top of me, numbing my legs.
My head was spinning, whether it was from the blood loss or the screams around me. I saw someone jump over me. Then I was staring at the ash grey sky. I wished it had been sunny. I’d have liked to die on a sunny day.
I heard a plane and my heart stuttered.
Oh God, I prayed. Please let this plane be one of ours. Let it be reinforcements.
But God was not watching me that day.
There was a shattering moment of silence as the bomb hit the ground. It’s the time when everything freezes.
Then, I was memory.