All my life, I have been haunted by a scene, one particular scene, dream-like and yet so vivid I live it every single time, over and over again.
I’m tired, so very tired, aching to my bones. We’re marching, or walking rather; my eyes are fixed on the back of the man in front of me, the monotonous drag of his feet and slouch of his shoulders.
The straps of my pack are chafing my own shoulders and I hitch them up irritably, the rough green canvas scratchy against my fingers. My rifle is heavy and unwieldy, slung across the front of my body. I’ve had enough now,, how had I ever thought this could be an adventure.
The captain calls a halt, and we slump down gratefully for a minute’s breather and a gulp of lukewarm water from my canteen. I try to adjust my boots – the tough leather has rubbed the skin off in a red angry circle all around my the bottom of my shins.
The man – boy, really, next to me, coughs and spits, the road is dusty and relentless. Up again and onwards, the going’s better now, a country lane, dusty, still, yes but curving round to the left and there’s a farmhouse, yes, a little farmhouse and a yard we’ll be safe there can rest but there’s a shot –
I woke up, sweating and cold in my own bed, my husband’s warm bulk, snoring gently, next to me.
I shrugged off the remnants of the dream, along with my sweaty pyjamas and got ready for work. Tense and headachy all day, legs sore with phantom blisters, I was only too ready to go to bed when I got home –
I’m tired, so very tired, aching to my bones. My boots are chafing the skin around the bottom of my shins and it’s red and bleeding. These boots were shiny when we left, shiny and proud, now as cracked and as battered as I feel. How could I have ever thought this would be an adventure?
Sweating, tired, the straps of my pack are digging into my shoulders, and hitch them up irritably. I fix my eyes on the back of the man in front. Captain calls a halt and we slump down, exhausted. I reach for my canteen of water, a lukewarm mouthful and then drop sharply into sleep.
I wake sweating, and uncomfortable up again and onwards the going’s better now a country lane dusty yes there’s a farmhouse a little farmhouse and a yard we’ll be safe there can rest but there’s a shot –