The 14th of January, 1915
Please tell me that you are alright. I must know, love. I care about you greatly. I know that you have told me you are at home, and that everything is quite fine, but it is urgent. It may be that I am losing my mind. I believe that this is the case, in actual fact. But Mercier looks quite like you. I am so sorry, precious wife; I have kissed him, thinking he was you. I miss you so dearly. But I need to know that you are safe at home. It is not that I do not trust you. On the contrary, it is that I do not trust myself. I need a sort of reassurance, so I know that I am wrong when I believe a man who looks like you to be you.
Alain has died. He was my friend at the beginning of the war. I know I may say this passively, but it still feels like he is alive. He risked his life for me, you know. It ended so suddenly. It astounds me how a life can be taken so quickly, it is almost… fascinating. I did not cry. I do not cry anymore, dear. There is no need, not when one has nothing to fear. But I do not think the French will win this war, dearest Caroline. My sweet, precious wife. Forgive me that my hands are shaking, but the thought of losing you is terrifying. But I do not want you to mourn my loss. You may, of course, for a day or two, but swear to me that you shall re-marry. Do you swear to me, Caroline? You shall not be lonely because your husband was stupid enough to not duck his head when a bullet was coming, or to not get out of the way in time when a shell was about to explode.
I hate this war.
Get me out of here.
Disappointed by the brevity of the letter, I left it beside my bed, as usual, for Mercier to take and deliver in only a few hours, since I supposed that it was sometime in the early morning. I gazed at the roof with a sigh, already missing the familiar chatter of Alain. I never knew just how silent a room became when he had left it, because it was as though he was in every place I had been in since the war had started. I missed him dearly, but losing friends was simply the nature of war. I wondered who I would lose next; perhaps Sébastien, with his innocent smile and impure intentions, or Mercier, that dear man who was always looking out for me, no matter what.
That morning, shots rang through the air, closer than usual. The Germans had not retreated; instead, they had gained strength, and were retaliating with a vengeance. Noticing that the members of my regiment were all getting ready to go, I picked up my rifle in trembling hands, following them out into the misty morning.