Love & War – an excerpt from Remember To Love Me
My Dearest Emily,
It is so very hard to sit here in the blistering sun, knowing that you, my love are there without me. I promise you, my love, I will be home very soon. You are my life and being without you is no life at all, I just exist and barely at that.
I am not sure how long this letter will take to get to you. It is your Birthday in a few weeks and I hope it will be with you by then, so, Happy Birthday my love, my Emily. How is life there, I hope everyone is well, please give the family my regards. You must not worry about me, the war will soon be over, and I will be . . .
‘You alright there, Corporal,’ the familiar gruff voice startled James. He put down his pencil and carefully folded the piece of paper. ‘It’s all right lad. You go ahead, you write to your gal,’ the gruff voice continued. ‘We don’t have much else, do we, other than the thought of who we’ve left behind,’ he paused with a sharp, crackling cough. ‘This damn dusty air, give me some good old, wretched English weather any day.’
James simply nodded with a half-hearted smile, ‘yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir.’
The dusk was falling and the air was thick with the warmth from the day’s blistering heat, corrupted by the stench of sweat and fresh blood; comrades lay bleeding in sodden bandages, muffled, suffering murmurs tainted the dusty air. His Sergeant’s coughing travelled into the distance as James’ thoughts once again revisited his love. His mind wandered to the vision of her long hair and big eyes, longing to touch her petite curves. His loneliness was immense, mounting with each dawn. James knew that he was not alone, but his fellow men with their own stories of love back home, although equal, were no consolation to him. Emily, his gloriously exquisite love, his wife, now alone each with only their memories as few as they were. James had envisioned their lives to be full of happiness and joy, never letting Emily out of his sight; her absence was tearing a hole in his heart.
James imagined Emily’s embrace the sweetness of her breath on his face and the softness of her lips pressed against his. With the tip of his forefinger, he eased the collar of his jacket around his neck, releasing the stench of stale sweat on his skin. The coarse material of his uniform tinged with blood and ground in dirt chafed his sunburned skin.
Unfolding the paper and licking the end of his dull pencil, he continued.
. . . with you very soon and our lives will be full of happiness. All the boys have been writing to their families. John, he is a really good chap, his wife is expecting a baby. He talks of nothing else, but his lovely wife and how good it will be to be home. He comes from a small town by the sea; he tells stories of how good the place looks in the summer and how much he misses the sound of the sea. I like hearing him talk of home; I think life by the sea would suit us. What do you think, a little cottage near the beach, and our children playing in the sand? It is thoughts like these that are keeping me going, and the thought of holding you in my arms, my dearest Emily.
I love you, James