A piece to mark Remembrance Day, being part of Promises Made Under Fire.
I’d got away with things pretty lightly, or so they reckoned at the casualty clearing station. Lost a bit of blood and a bit of hair, but nothing that couldn’t be recouped either way. Stitches, plenty of fluid, a bit of leave I was due, a good rest and I’d be well enough to get back at the front. The way they relayed the news to me you’d have thought they were promising a trip to Monte Carlo.
I guess my deal was better than the one Foden had been handed out. They told me he’d been killed, outright, which was a mercy, although I didn’t really mourn him then. I assumed it was because I’d become hard-boiled, so when the wave of grief came, it was a terrible shock.
I was at home, recuperating in my parents’ garden, when all the memories—cooped up, kept in place by disbelief and denial—flooded back on a tide of tears. I’d never been one for crying, even as a child, so Mother must have been as stunned as I was. She came and sat with me, unspeaking, her hand on my arm. I was glad of her not asking questions, not asking me to explain. The tears were for Foden and Jonny and me and all the lads in our regiment.
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