This Life

The world’s a cruel place.

World War Three and nothing has changed; there are still different levels of cruelty. Like the one I see now; Mary Talbot burying her new born daughter. The hole is dug, but she still clutches the baby as if it was alive. It’s wrapped in a bloody sheet, which Mary’s fingers pull back so she can kiss its forehead. Perhaps this is for the best. I can’t imagine trying to bring a baby up in this place. It would have died anyway, suffering as we are.

I stand amongst the wooden crosses against the wire fence. Mary, at last, puts the bundle in the tiny hole. She kneels in pray, tears running down her face and splashing into the dry black soil. I want to touch her shoulder and tell her ‘it’ll be okay.’ But I can’t because I know it won’t be.

The wind blows though my long blond hair and my hands catch my skirt as it threatens to rise. Mary climbs to her feet, supporting her struggle upwards on the spade. Blinded by her tears she begins to fill in the grave.

  Is it important to give things back to the cruel world?

There is no such thing as a free lunch.

It’s later now and I’ve joined the rebels, American men gathered in their hut for dinner. I should still be able to have my share of their food. They owe it to me for all the help I gave them before in the fight to stop the war. Tonight they have rice, bread and milk. I’m perched on the edge of a shared chair at the end of the table. I’m quick to grab and eat, forgetting to chew before swallowing.

Their new leader notices me and starts demanding that I leave. I’m no longer part of their group now and I should go back to the British side. I ignore him. But he takes action and drags me out of the hut. I fight back, trying to pull his hands off mine. Words gush from my mouth, running into each other. Not that he listens. The door closes behind me. His voice yells not to come back.

I leave and go back to the British side. My hut is quieter then the Americans’ hut. I search around and dig out some packets of army rations the secret hiding place under the dusty floorboards. Someone has already boiled a pan of water in the make-shift fire place. It seems they’ve just left it. I use it to cook the rations, expecting them to come back at any minute and tell me off. They’d probably tell me to go back to the Americans as well….

  I wish Tex hadn’t left.

  Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Tex is my boyfriend and he was the American rebel leader.  He got out; escaped in the middle of the night with some of the others a few days ago. He didn’t bother to take me; I always thought I meant something to him. I guess he was just using my knowledge to help carry out their planned attacks to try and end the war. I know if I’d not joined them I’d be dead. With him gone, is that what I have to face now? I’m not afraid to die though; I faced it before when they bombed my house, before they brought me to the camp. I’m afraid of dying alone though…

Tex is the only one I trust…But what kind of boyfriend just leaves you behind? I tell myself he had no choice and maybe he’ll come back to get me. It’s a thought I hold close as I try to sleep on the wooden boards of the bunk bed with only this blanket. I try to block out the sounds of the others as they too try and sleep through the night heat and hunger pains. A child cries somewhere. The pitiful shrieks remind me of the struggle to survive….

Another day, I stand amongst the crude crosses trapped within the fence-even in death they are not truly free-and watch them dig another hole. Two men this time dig though the damp earth, piling it up. An old woman clutches the toddler boy behind them. What can he understand from this? He is too young to know of death and a life outside these fences. But is that what we truly want? At least we are safe from the war here……Waiting to die.

  I wish Tex would come back for me….