Now and then

The sea salt tingled my nose as I breathed in the air. It was midday with the sun overhead, lighting up the bay. I felt beads of sweat trickle down my forehead as I wandered down the beach. There was a breath of wind that blew by, making the greenery sway on the hillside. I stood on the sand wiggling my toes in it, letting the sand travel over my feet and into the spaces between each toe. I scooped some up with my cupped hands and watched the grains fall between the cracks of my fingers;it looked like a golden stream running from my palm.


The sun was boiling hot and wore me down quickly, the only thing I was able to focus on was water. I stripped down to just my shorts, preferring to keep the rest of my clothes dry and dipped into the cool blue. My stress from the heat was relieved instantly as I was saturated in the cool liquid. Twisting onto my back I was swept forward by the waves that rolled in slowly, my head was dunked under and I came back up with a mouth full of bitter salt water. The waves sung songs as they reached the shore, seagulls overhead adding to the sound;all was calm in the bay.


The morning was young with the sun blocked out by the thick fog. Saltwater splashed into the tin can we sat inside; a puddle of water sloshed by our feet. There was an eerie silence among the men as we sat aboard the vessel. Some prayed silently whilst others prepared to embark onto land, which was hardly visible apart from the hills that appeared as silhouettes through the lifeless fog. Nervously I felt for the rifle by my side, it’s cold metal sent a chill down my spine. I had only used this tool of death once before when we were training at the military camp, that was now far away. I drew my attention to the red blood stain on my uniform which had been bothering me for most of the journey. I kept on wondering who this uniform had once belonged to, are they still alive, wounded or dead? If they died how did they? How old are they? Were they the first soldier to wear the uniform? Will I be the last? During the time that I had scared myself pale with these blood curling thoughts our boat had broken through the barrier of fog and I could now behold the land as it grew larger and larger in my engrossed eyes.   


We were nearing a long stretch of hills that beared little greenery and were covered mainly in sand and rubble. There was a little beach that separated the sea from the hills and was occupied in barbed wire. It wasn’t very welcoming and I knew that there were Turkish soldiers posted up the top of those hills preparing to give us hell. At the same time I was captivated to the hills because there were magnificent poppies that ignited their wonderful colour like a show of fireworks. I had never seen such beautiful flowers before that I became totally unaware of what was happening around.


We were now skimming the surface of the beach and shortly after I had soaked my feet in the cool blue. I felt the water drench into my leather boots as they became heavier and heavier as I charged forward. I was stopped in my tracks by fear as I heard gunshots come from the hillside, surely I can’t live through this. The rain of bullets came down on us but I stood rooted to the spot terrified of the horrific image. Men all around me fell to the ground like rag dolls, staining the water a deep red.  I felt myself become weak and filled with a vile acidic flavour in my mouth. This was suicidal and I was in the midst of it all, this was hell.


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