A Love That God Named Sin
FRIDAY DECEMBER 24th, 1971
The commotion in the kitchen reminds me of the joyous time that is Christmas. My family rushing around with preparations for our annual Christmas Eve dinner. Seeing my family come together for the splendid times of this holiday. The aroma of the stuffed turkey and roast potatoes filling my nostrils. Adults dodging the grandchildren, it all brought me joy.
Feeling a tap on my shoulder, I turn around to find one of my many grandchildren clutching a small black leather-bound book.
“Grandad, what is this?” Maria asked.
I took the little book into my own hands. The fraying seams reminding me of its age, the cold of the leather causing my blood to run cold. Opening the cover, exposing the torn pages to the crisp air. Just reading over the date present on the first page gives me flashbacks to the happiest times of my life, but also the most bitter.
July 31, 1914
Adrenaline. Adrenaline coursing through my veins, the thrill of knowing that I was going to be fighting in a war.
The ferry gliding in the water away from Britain and towards France. A British soldier approached where I was sitting and sat down beside me. Looking up at the man, I noticed that he looked young and not yet matured.
“Jasper Heisenberg,” holding out his hand, waiting for my own to shake. I eagerly shook his hand.
“Nicholas Rogers.” I could see that Jasper was fiddling with something in his pocket. “If I may ask, what have you got in your pocket?”
“My father gave me his pocket watch when I was six -years old, just before he died. My mother also passed away just last year.” A frown appeared on his face.
We were rudely interrupted by the British general, Douglas Haigr, informing us of our arrival in France, at the Western Front. Rising up from my seat, I could already hear the guns firing without a second break. Flinching as I listened to a bomb grounding, wrecking everything in its way. Suddenly, we were being charged off of the boat and onto the battlefield with a gun in hand.
Run. One word and one word only was running through my head. Run. I had to run to survive. I could hear the gun fires and bombs exploding. Heavy pants reach my ears as I see Jasper in my peripheral vision. Making it to the muddy, rat filled trenches, I stood next to Jasper. His head snapped up with confusion all over.
“You looked alone,” I paused, “and I felt you could use a friend since you seem quite young.” Still catching my breath, I saw the corners of his lips turn upwards into a small grin.
“I recently turned nineteen, so I had to enlist for the war.” His eyes lit up with joy, but the spark left just as quickly as it came as the loud screams brought him back to the real world. I couldn’t make out what the voices were saying.
“Mr Rogers, watch out!” A familiar voice yelled in my ear. Turning my head to the voice, I saw Heisenberg quickly crouching down. I followed his movements when I heard a massive explosion. The smell of gun powder filled my nose, and seconds later, I heard the familiar sound of the gun fires.
Hours passed, and sleep was catching up to me. My eyelids drooping, obscuring my vision. Eventually giving up, they closed with the sound of gunshots ringing through my ears.
THURSDAY MARCH 18th, 1915
I have become accustomed to the sound of the gunshots and the screaming and the smell of gunpowder. Walking up and down the trenches, the odour of the decaying bodies scattered around. Thousands of soldiers lost due to the disease-ridden rats. The smell of garlic wharfed into the air and to my nose. Poison gas. Yelling to the soldiers near me, warning them about the attack. I was so concerned about the welfare of my fellow soldiers; I forgot to protect myself. Struggling to put on the mask myself, rough hands came to guide my shaky ones. Tingles went through my body from the touch of his hands on mine. That can’t happen. The tingles were from terror and nothing else, I won’t let it be anything else.
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 13th, 1915
I have gotten to know the men who live in the trench with me. We occasionally play card games, which makes our days a little brighter. I feel exceptionally close with the young lad, Jasper Heisenberg. I feel different when I am around Jasper. He makes me feel complete. What am I saying? It is impossible that I like another man. Our relationship is strictly platonic. Yeah, that’s it. I feel the need to protect him like an older brother would protect his younger brother.
“Rogers! Get your head out of the clouds.” The general yelled at me. I need to stop thinking about Jasper. He will only ever be a friend to me and nothing more. Not like I wanted there to be more. I absolutely despise those who think a man could love another man, it’s a sin.
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 1st, 1916
The deafening sound of guns firing echoes through my head. Running towards another wounded soldier. I wrapped his arm around my shoulder, limping towards the hospital tent for him to be treated.
Nurses rush between men, treating them with their limited resources. Once the soldier who was on my shoulder was being seen by one of the many nurses, I took my leave back to the dreaded trenches. I thought that this experience was going to be thrilling, exciting even. Thrilling it was, but in a downright terrifying way.
Pressure. That’s all I felt. There was pressure building up in my arm. Looking down, I noticed that my uniform was slowing starting to become soaked in blood. My own blood. Then the realisation hit me. I had been shot. Abruptly, I was being pushed to the ground, landing on my injured arm. Immense pain shot throughout my body. A heavyweight landed on top of me, knocking the breath out of me. Heisenberg’s iconic curls were what I noticed first. Then I saw even more blood. This time it was not my own blood. Jasper. I quickly got Jasper off of me, careful not to hurt him, and saw that he had in fact been shot on the right side of his chest, close to his heart. My heart started beating faster. I need to get Jasper to the hospital tent, NOW! One of the lads who I had become mates with, saw what had happened and rushed to help us.
Nurses instantly surround. I could see Jasper’s lips moving, but only whispers came out. Leaning closer towards his lips, his smooth voice filled my ears.
“Nicholas. I-I wan-.” Before he could finish, he was harshly interrupted by a nurse. The nurse informed us that they were unable to treat Jasper here. Outrageous I tell you. Absolutely outrageous. The nurse continued to advise us that we were to board the next ferry back to England so that Jasper would be treated with the proper tools. The nurses put a gauze on Jasper’s chest and tightly wrapped a bandage to apply pressure, to try and stop the bleeding, doing the same to my own injury. We made our way to the docks, to board the awaiting boat. Once we were safely on the ferry, I sat down letting out a sigh. Jasper slowly turned to face me, groaning in pain. His face held a look of concern.
“We are free from violence. Away from danger.” Jasper slowly nodded in agreement. Wincing, Jasper moved his hand into one of the many pockets on our uniforms, retrieving an object.
“I-I want you to have this. You are the only person who I have let get close to me.” His father’s pocket watch lay in his hand. Jasper reached for my own, gently putting the aged watch into the palm of my hand. Looking up at Jasper’s face, I saw that the light in his eyes was slowly dimming. I was absolutely gobsmacked. I knew that his father’s watch meant a great deal to him, so why was he giving it to me?
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 4th, 1916
We finally arrived at the Empire Hospital. It was said to be the best in all of London. Rushing into the hospital, with Jasper’s near to unconscious body on my shoulder. We were immediately seen by a nurse who leads us into a small room. The nurse got straight to working, treating Jasper’s bullet wound.
When the nurse finished treating Jasper’s wound, she came up to me.
“I removed the bullet and stitched up the wound. Mr Heisenberg fell unconscious during the procedure, so we are unsure if and when he will wake up.”
Those words pulled on my heartstrings. I have grown close to Jasper and him, me. I can’t think of the world without that bubbly young lad who found happiness in some of the most darndest of things.
Many hours passed with no change in Jasper’s condition. The nurse came back into the room to do a check-up. I never thought that the next words to come out of her mouth would be so earth-shattering.
“Jasper Heisenberg, time of death 4:32 pm, February 4th, 1916.” Nothing, I could feel nothing. I fell forward, my whole body turning numb. My knees came in contact with the rough carpet. It can’t possibly be true. Jasper can’t be dead. Life without him wouldn’t be a life. I have never felt this way towards anyone before, female nor male. Even though I wanted to, I can’t deny it anymore. I am in love with Jasper Heisenberg.
TUESDAY NOVEMBER 11th, 1919
Armistice Day. Today was a day of commemorating the signing of the armistice which ended the war. The chatter amongst the people in the grounds of the Buckingham Palace slowly subsided. Two minutes of silence. A way for us to pay our respects for the fallen soldiers. All I could think about was one soldier, Jasper Heisenberg. How could I, a 28-year-old man, be in love with a dead soldier? The cold metal brushing against my numb fingers, making the hairs on my body stand up. Jasper’s pocket watch. Over these past years, I have yet to open it.
FRIDAY DECEMBER 24th, 1971
The loud racket coming from the kitchen brings me back to my reality, Christmas eve dinner. Walking into the kitchen, the delicious smells of homemade cooking makes its way to my nose. The faint memory of gun powder embeds the scent into my nose. I could still faintly hear the terrifying sound of guns firing. I was diagnosed with what we called ‘shell shock’. When I returned, I would get nightmares about my time fighting in the war.
“Pops, I found this in your room.” Little Susan handed me an object I hadn’t seen in decades. Jasper’s pocket watch. Even to this day, I have never opened it feeling as though it would be wrong. Thinking it was time, I opened the golden watch to see a small clock displaying roman numerals. I noticed something on the inside of the casing. Looking closer, I realised that there was an address that had been engraved onto the watch in Jasper’s handwriting. 17 Gracechurch Street, London. I told my family that I was going to the grocery store when in truth I was going to the inscription on the pocket watch.
Arriving at the address, I saw that it was a run-down neighbourhood house. I knocked on the wooden door receiving no answer. Turning the doorknob and surprisingly, the door was unlocked, welcoming my entry. Stepping over the threshold, I stood on something, causing a crinkle sound to occur. Looking down, I saw a pile of envelopes. Thinking to myself, it seems like no one has been here for a while. Reaching down to pick up an envelope, I saw that my name was printed on the front and that it was from Jasper Heisenberg, odd. Ripping open the envelope revealing an old letter. I noticed that it was dated back in 1915, during the war. Reading over the letter, the five words at the end, took my breath away.
I love you, Nicholas Rogers.
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