I could've made it. I had a limp in my left leg and my right arm had no more feeling, but I could've made it. I stand by my decision - even though it cost me my life.
I still remember the date, 1919, 15th May. England was at war. We had just set off a whole batch of grenades into the enemies trench. Back then we had to set them off by hand- so there wasn't much time for us to run back to our trench. I was working on the frontline- with my life long friend- Adams. He had been with me when I had asked Emma, my dear wife, to marry me and he had helped deliver our precious baby girl.I had been afraid during the war that I would never get to see my little girl again.
We were running back from the trench after setting up the grenades ( I had to make a headstart because of my stupid leg) and it seemed like I would make it back in time. While I was running (hobbling, really) back to our trench, I couldn't help thinking about my family back home- my daughter blowing out the candles on her birthday cake, that day was her birthday.
I heard a cry and multiple curses come from behind me. I turned around- there was no one there- everyone had already bypassed me. Suddenly through the haze I had saw a faint but rapid movement, a man. Adams. If I went to help him, I could get him unstuck from that pile of rubble he was trapped under- but I wouldn't make it back in time before the French came over, because of my leg. That was the hardest decision I ever faced, my life or his.
I ran up to him- as quick as my wounded leg would allow. As I approached him I saw how badly he was caught- his face was covered with pain and desperation and the sight of it triggered a flashback of the scared deer I hadn't wanted to shoot when I had been hunting with my grandfather back home. I helped release him- without saying a word- and I pushed him towards the trench. He ran away from me- without even attempting to try and get me out of the hell hole I now faced. He ran away- like any of us cowards would have. Just like how I would've.
I remembered having a conversation with him a few weeks before. We had holes in our boots and nits crawling all over our bodies- but we didn't give a damn! That day we promised each other we would stay together- that we would protect each other. I stayed by that bargain and I don't regret it.I would like to think I am a man of honour and bravery- I stand by my word.
I remember the fumes of gas filling my lungs. I remember feeling my breath becoming fainter. I knew what was happenning. The lads called it " chokey gas attacks," because you feel as if someones holding a boxing match with your lungs. I knew what was going to happen to me- and I welcomed it. I was tired, tired of fighting, tired of war. I felt my life seep out of me as I closed my eyes. I remember my last thought even now. I had been worried that my family hadn't got their postcard I had sent to them the day before. The mail was so unreliable back then. I hope it did reach them. Strange that I never checked.
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