Battle of Somme
Perhaps I am merely overexaggerating when I say that I feel as if the world is crumbling beneath my feet, and there is nothing I can do about it. The breeze whistles through the night, enveloping me, and whispering softly through my ears. Yet a few mere hours before, there were so many haunting screams, reverbrating through my core and making me tremble with their pain and agony. I weakly hobble forward, crouching down so that my elbows rest on my knees, and stare at the chaos that has evolved over a single day. There is so much blood. So much. And so many bodies lay splayed on the ground, fighting for my cause, their bayonets discarded on the ground. We had been so foolish to underestimate the enemy. So, so foolish. Because of our errors, sixty thousand casualties occured in one day. One day. Over twenty thousand were killed within those sixty thousand, and I knew this was not the end of it. We had thought this war would end so easily, so swiftly. Oh, how wrong we were. What a fatal mistake.
I advert my gaze from the bloody bodies to the trenches that we had been trying to reach and had failed. I exhale softly, trying to collect my mind. I couldn't help but think why. Why had we even started this war? Are we such animals that we long for war the way that a predator longs for its prey? War had been approaching, we had all felt it, and yet this was so much worse than we had ever expected it to be. So much death. So much pain. So much faith lost, so much hope discarded. Too much is being taken from us, including our sense of humanity as we plunged ourselves further and further into this war.
I do not hear the quiet patter of footsteps that approach me until someone clears their throat. I stand straight now, and turn to face whomever it may be.
"Francis?" My voice is different. Earlier it had been crackling with the strength and arrogance that had been felt when we first attacked, but now it was fading into a weak rasping sound. Francis eyes me cautiously before looping his arm around my shoulder and squeezing me close.
"I know, mon petit Angleterre. I know." He says shakily to me, his gaze flickering worriedly to my bloodied uniform. He seems so gentle, proving that even through this heart wrenching war there still can be a bit of kindness left. I smile weakly at him and allow him to guide me. Where we are going I do not know. I know, however, that I can trust this man.
"How long have you been here?" Francis whispers as we stumble down a slight hill, supporting me when one of my legs gives out from exhaustion. I just offer a weak smile, clutching onto him as if he was a lifeline. I suppose that, in a way, he was. We were eachother's lifeline; when one failed, the other would support them. Even if we both failed, that would just mean that I would help him at the same time he was helping me.
"I ... don't even know anymore." I laugh exhaustedly. "All day. All day, Francis, watching those men die. I—I can't." I manage to choke out, tears licking at my lashes. I hang my head, ashamed of the tears that trickled from my emerald eyes. A wretched sob escapes me. I am, however, surprised when Francis hugs me tightly. I am even more surprised when I can feel my hair becoming wet.
"Do not be sorry, Angleterre." Francis weeps with me, his fingers threading through my hair in a way I remember him doing when I was a child. "Don't you dare be sorry. None of us could have predicted that a war could turn out like this. This is absolutely awful. We need to stop it, Angleterre. We need to keep on fighting, just like we were at the beginning. Even though we are losing, we will find a way to pull through in the end." He pauses to stop a tremor that ran through his voice before continuing. "Remember what I have told you. Be strong. I am always here if you need to come to me, Angleterre."
I manage to nod, clutching onto his uniform as we both cry together. He looks even worse than I do, his uniform soaked in blood, signalling how much the French had lost. I would keep on fighting until the end, whether it be Germany laying sprawled on the ground or myself laying on the ground; limp, cold, and dead. I am, afterall, England. And I knew that I could win this war.
"Thank you, Francis. You're a true friend." I mumbled. He smiles, pressing a kiss to the top of my temple. He continues to embrace me, and I him, as my people mourn the soldiers that had bravely lost their lives that day. The first of July will be a day I will never forget. The Battle of Somme had just begun.