Leisle Kuhle, Grade 9
Her heart seemed to tear in two as she gently dabbed a wet rag on the feverish man’s brow, and with shaking hand she administered the contents of a dark bottle to the pale lips that so recently had laughed freely amongst his mates.
Fresh tears wet her damp lashes as she remembered with horror the terrible battle, the roar of cannon, the stench of rotting bodies, the flash of guns in the dark night, and worst of all, the men lying on the damp ground crying pitifully for assistance from someone, anyone. She thought of all this with a shudder as she silently flitted from the bedside of a man wounded in the first charge, to a pile of rotting hay, stained red with the blood of the men lying helpless upon the disgusting bed, the same men who only a few hours before had confidently discussed the success of the battle they were to fight in. Only a few months ago, these same men had tenderly kissed their loving wives and fiancées they would never see again. These men had given their lives to save other precious lives, had bravely looked fear full in the face for the women and children at home, and had suffered for them.
With trembling lips a man whispered his last message to those he had left behind, another burned hand pressed a locket into her gentle hand, and yet another croaking voice cried out a prayer for deliverance from the pain of the bleeding stump of his once strong leg had been.
She murmured a prayer for the mother of one who lay burned and scarred from the shot of canon on the freezing ground out of the tent, for there was no room more in the tent, where the oppressive smell of death rose ever present.
With parched lips she kissed the brow of the man who only weeks before had asked her to be his wife. And with tender love, she dressed the shattered limbs of the once handsome man, now blacked and burned with the harsh fire of the enemy.
What happy memories of days spent in sunny meadows, or rowing upon the sparkling lakes, and of nights spent in laughter, gliding through the complicated steps of the fox-trot.
A loving word escaped the man’s shaking lips, and with a quick convulsion he lay still upon the filthy pillow, never to cry again. He had gone to a better place.