Loved Ones Dear
From your pictures you're adorable, my dear.
From reports you are lady of the year.
From those in the know these days I've heard,
You`re beautiful to see --
You twinkle like the candles on an anniversary!
From informants you would seem to be immortal --
They have booked the hall of fame and burst its portal --
From ''enchanting'' to ''alluring''; from ''endearing'' to ''enduring,''
But from memory, you`re swell my dear!
-George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Normandy
Getting mail from home was a God-send, which was why it was so demoralizing when one received no mail at all. When Sergeant Flynn announced to us that there was mail later that day, we all ran and gathered around him like a gaggle of small children waiting for Saint Nick. Men snatched their packages and letters from home out of Flynn's hands and stalked off with them. I bet that many of them left to go "relieve" themselves. There's no shame to it; we've all done it at one point or another.
Flynn held two letters up to his face (I swear the man needs glasses but he denies that his eyes are bad). "Hartigan, Arthur M!" He shouts.
I raise my hand in a half-assed manner and strode forward to get my mail. Flynn hands me two envelopes and I walk a few paces away before stopping abruptly as I read who the letters are from.
There's one from Mom and Dad and the other one is from Abigail. Wait-- Abigail wrote to me?! Hell must have froze over!
Abigail was this girl I was seeing before I left for basic. She was pretty browned off at me for joining but I told her I had to, otherwise I would have been conscripted or be a Zombie. I asked Mom and Dad to talk to her for me but they had very little success; until now it seemed.
I guess she came round. Forget the reasons why; I just felt incredibly happy that she wanted to talk to me again.
I tore open the envelope and read over Abigail's letter. I couldn't believe it. She wasn't angry with me anymore and actually apologized for her behaviour. I grin like a fool and stuff the letter in my notebook. I feel like skipping like Goldilocks frolicking through the woods to be honest.
I go on to read the letter from Mom and Dad. They, and my younger siblings, are fine which is all that matters to me. I feel somewhat content now.
When we moved on deeper into the city in anticipation of a counter-attack, enemy arty began to rain down a few blocks ahead of us. We dug in, set up positions, and waited for the inevitable.
Taylor and Hastings were beside me. Taylor nudges me in the side. "You seem happy. Good news from home?"
I nod curtly. Taylor doesn't annoy me as much as most people. In fact, we seemed to understand each other and bonded over the fact that we both find Grayson an obnoxious prick. Taylor wasn't as handsome as most nor was he as polite as people would like him to be but I found him to be a good guy.
Hastings was a good guy as well. He was very friendly, out-going, and always had a smile to offer to people. He made most men in this company look ugly but none of us held that against him. As far as I know, he was the only guy here that had a horde of kids back home.
Taylor grins. "Oh good."
"How about you guys? How's the wife and kids?"
"Pretty good." Hastings grunts.
Taylor shrugs. "They're alright. They're doing a lot better than me that's for sure!"
I smirk. "I think everyone in Canada is doing better than us!"
Hastings shushes me. "Their arty has stopped. They'll be on their way."
I check my rifle last minute to make sure I'm ready. Taylor and Hastings mirror me.
We wait in anticipation. My heart and our breathing seemed incredibly loud. In the distance I hear nothing but the enemy is on his way; we all can sense it.
Bullets hit the rubble close to me, causing my heart to jump up to my throat. I try to see where the shooting is coming from and spot a grey figure shoot through an open area. Our side's bullets followed closely behind.
A few men got hit but we kept on firing back at the Germans. A grenade lands near my feet and Hastings snatches it and tosses it back with a great heave of his arm.
Something wet hits the side of my face in droplets. It took me a moment to realize that Hastings was hit in the throat. I watch in horror as his throat rips open and he tumbles sideways, blood spouting out of his mouth. A gurgling noise emits from his throat.
I tore my eyes away while Taylor and I switch places. Taylor looks over Hastings in helplessness. "John," Taylor wheezes. "John!"
"Taylor!" I shout. I don't know why I shout. "He's gone."
I turn my focus to the fight before me, feeling dread set in. Poor Hastings. Another good man gone and a father and husband no less. It appears that only the good die young.
Taylor joins me and yells in my ear. "I got his letters and things in my pocket. He had a pair of baby booties on him."
I barely hear my friend over the pounding in my ears. I feel adrenaline course though my veins and I feel overwhelmed by it. I feel like I might be sick. I almost feel like I might soil myself or throw up. I desperately hope that neither will happen.
The Germans are beaten eventually and us Canucks move forward, pursuing our fleeing enemy.
"Those fuckers better run back to Berlin!" Taylor seethes in rage.
I scramble to collect my thoughts. I find it so odd how one moment we were filled with a strange sense of happiness and longing from receiving mail from home and the next moment we are filled with hatred and rage as we snap at our enemy's tail.
By the time we halt, I am exhausted and Taylor looks angry as ever. I go over to him and try to console me. "Taylor." I say softly and grab his arm.
"Get off me." He warns.
When I don't budge he flashes me a furious look but the ire in his face soon fades and he ends up looking deflated.
"I got Hastings' things," He says to the air around him. "I should send them to his family as soon as I can."
Taylor looks at me. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't lose my composure like that."
"No, it's okay I understand." I didn't know Hastings as well as Taylor did but seeing the hurt in Taylor's face cuts me deeply.
The sense of relief I had felt earlier this day has been replaced by more bitter emotions as we leave our dead behind and watch our wounded being taken away. None of the SS that lay around the rubble were alive, as none would allow themselves to be taken prisoner.
I adjust my helmet and press forward with the others.