Peter stood beside his brother, William. Waiting for the shelling to stop. The trenches stank of rotted body’s and the mud sucked at the soldier’s hard boots, all the while it flooded with the rainwater of yesterdays downpour to further soak their already wet sock’s.
Peter took a sneak peak at his watch “7:20 exactly.” He whispered hardly audible over the shells, William knew if it wasn’t for his older brother, Peter, he would have gone running for the hills days ago. William also knew he shouldn’t be here, hell most of them shouldn’t be here. Most weren’t even sixteen, but the army was desperate and accepted anyone who signed up.
He was sure that a few of the girls from his village had signed up disguised as boys, and he was thankful their sister didn’t decide to do the same. She was older than William and Peter’s twin. Rosie was a strong headed girl and would have gone with them just to make sure they were safe.
“Ready Will” Peter asked still in a whisper. William answered with a nod,his nervousness back in full force. “see you on the other side then, Will.” Peter said sadly, as if he already thought they were dead. William gulped as Captain Tough shouted for them to attack. They all jumped over the trenches and ran screaming a stream of curses as they went, if Mother where here she would faint at the curses Peter shouted, William thought. Despite all the curses and jeers William knew they were all scared stiff-less, but as he thought this every one started to run back with shouts off “It’s a trap! It’s a trap!“
Peter appeared out of the smoke running towards William shouting, Peter reached him and grabbed his arm pulling him to run, but William’s leg’s wouldn’t work they just turned to lead. William watched in shock as a bullet whistled past him and buried it self in Peter’s shoulder. At the moment the bullet pierced his brother every thing slowed down.
Peter fell clutching his chest, blood cascading down his uniform as more bullets lodged themselves in his body.
Will collapsed beside him. His legs having finally given up.
William watched in horror as his brother, once so strong, died in the mud, “Tell Ma I love her and…Will you’re the best brother…” Peter choked out blood pouring from his mouth. William saw Peter smile before the light faded from his eyes.
He just sat there in shock.
His brother was dead.
He was alone.
But fate decided that was not be his destiny as, in a rare moment of mercy a red hot flare of pain shot through his chest.
Yes, fate was kind that day.
But only to one.
The next day a letter was received by Rosie Harding and her daughter,Alexandra at 2:15. It was a letter from the army informing them of the death of Peter and William.
Mrs Harding clutched the kitchen counter, tears slipped past her closed eyes. A white knuckled hand held her steady where it gripped the kitchen counter.
“And William Henry Harding is......is dead.” Alex stuttered out, her voice hitched at the last words she never wanted to hear. No tears fell, no other sound could be heard from her stunned face, the last thing her mother needed was Alex breaking down too.
“They could be wrong. Mum, they could have found the wrong people, they....“
“Alexandra.” Mrs Harding interrupted sharply. She turned hard eyes on to her daughter “I have just lost two out of my three children.” she glanced at her swollen belly.“Four.” she corrected rubbing the bump. Mrs Harding looked back at Alex “Please, not now. We don’t need false hope, not after your father.....” another sob wracked her body and the conversation was over. Alex rushed to her mother, letter thrown on the rickety table, and hugged her.
“Don’t worry, I’m still here. I won’t talk about this again.“
But she still held hope. Or some might say stubbornness, but no amount of stubbornness could bring back the dead.
584 men went to their death that day, William and Peter’s Mother never saw her boy’s again neither did all the Mothers, brothers or sister’s see their loved ones.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed
And here comes a chopper to chop off you’re head
Chop, chop, chop.