I have a short scene sketch to share with you.
This was borne out of six months of studying WWI and reaching the end. It was terrible… and I now have to start with WWII (as well as Genocide Studies). It’s getting a bit much, but this is history.
It’s shocking to think that actually happened. And not too long ago.
So here we are, a short sketch, scribbled down on a notepad in the middle of answering more WWI questions.
Warren had been as tough as anyone else on the battlefield, amongst the dead of former comrades and friends. He had held up under fire, calmly trying to survive. He had transversed across mud that had swallowed his comrades, fought in pointless battles where many had died and killed many a man himself. He had seen death and destruction and had become hard and strong.
But as he rode the last stretch home, he was nervous and feared what would happen. Resolve to be strong and survive this new life welled up within him, familiar as it pushed aside memories and terror and nervousness.
He hadn’t slept in days, too afraid of what he’d see in his sleep.
Now, Warren stepped off of the train, onto the bustling platform. Men were greeted by their mothers, and sweethearts, and sisters.
He didn’t see anyone he recognised as his eyes surveyed the platform, so he turned and retrieved his small suitcase of… nothing, actually. A few manuscripts and letters he had written, an old uniform and several of his brothers-in-arms keepsakes they no longer needed.
Not in the muddy fields of Passchendaele.
When he turned around, something barreled into him. He stopped himself from throwing the person just in time, recognising her as his mother.
But she was so small. When Warren had last seen her, he’d been a little taller than her and just as skinny. Now, she barely came up to his chin. But her small arms gripped him with inhuman strength as she clung to him, silently wracking with sobs.
“My boy,” she whispered over again. “My boy’s home. You’re home now, out of that horrible place.”
And slowly, hesitating as he returned the foreign gesture and wrapped his arms around his mother. He swallowed hard, an unknown emotion curling in his chest. “Hi, Mama.”
She stepped back, hurriedly wiping her tears away as she looked at him. She laid a hand on his cheek. “You’ve grown up.”
“Warren?!” came an incredulous, familiar but distant, cry. “You made it home!”
Another person, slightly larger, took him by surprise as arms wrapped around his neck.
Warren blinked, returning the hug gently as he raised an eyebrow at his mother. But she was looking at Liesl with pity and comfort, regret and concern etched into her features.
“Hello Liesl,” he said softly, still gripped in a tight hug and not wanting to hurt his childhood friend by shaking her off. After a second, she pulled back and wiped away tears.
“I’m sorry,” she muttered as his mother’s arm wrapped around her. “You never wrote, James and Ryan and Garett are never coming home, so I thought… and then Papa and my brother both…” She trailed off.
His mother mouthed sent him a look, trying to convey that they were all killed in action.
He couldn’t muster up a reassuring smile, but he did understand. “I understand, Liesl. I didn’t write letters down there, but decided to journal.”
She nodded, offering him a small smile. “I’ll come by later to see you. I need to go find Mama.” She hugged him again and took off.
He sighed as he looked back at his mother. “Where’s Pip?”
“Right here,” Pip called, waddling over to him. Her stomach was swollen in the joys of pregnancy, and she was already crying. “My dear baby brother, home at last.”
He was more used to the gesture now, and comfortably embraced his, rather large, sister. “When’s the baby due?”
“I see,” she said wryly, pulling back to fluff his hair slightly. Pity and regret shone in her teary eyes, even as she spoke sarcastically. “I missed you too.”
He kissed her cheek. “Yes, Pip.”
“My James wanted to come and see you,” she explained as they started walking home. “But he couldn’t leave the farm right now.”
“He sustained an injury, didn’t he?”
Pip’s hand gripped his as she leaned on his shoulder. They were walking rather slowly to allow for Pip’s condition. “Yes. He suffered from several things, which resulted in three missing fingers and a limp.”
He flinched at her blunt tone but nodded. It had been a common sight, and James had been lucky compared to most men.
As they reached the end of the platform, a whistle cut through the noise of the crowd. A familiar tune that Warren hadn’t heard in a long time.
He looked up to see his father standing at the base of the stairs, still in the constant flow of people. His one arm was in a sling, a scar cutting across his forehead and cheek, and a bottom piece of his earlobe missing. Battle scars and wounds that would never heal, a testimony of what had happened and the unseen injuries in the minds and emotions of the soldiers.
He didn’t hesitate, leaving behind his mother and sister as he gripped his father in an embrace. His father’s arm hugged him close. And finally, he broke.
He felt like a little child as he stood there, shaking with tears, holding onto the man that understood. That had gone through half of his hellish trials with him and had gone missing. His shoulders heaved in silent sobs as his father managed to grip him back with his free arm, trying to hold him together.
He stood there, a little boy with a dead pet once again, crying. As a boy with a broken arm, trying to be tough in front of his hero. And now, as a broken man, trying to escape the horrors he’d seen and realising for the first time it was done.
As he stood on this platform, surrounded by his loved ones, he finally understood…
It was over.
How was that?
< 3 klara