I remember it like it was yesterday. My grandson sat on my lap, curious about a box he had found in the attic, “Grandpa Grandpa! Is this what the war was like, black and white?! It never looked so bad according to this picture.”
I couldn’t help but laugh as I wrapped my arms around him, the picture he held in his hands, brought back memories. “I see you found, a box of my things dear one. “
“These old pictures are cool! Was it like the old war movies, Grandpa!?” I pat my Grandson, Ryan, on the head and smiled,
“Gosh... Where to begin… You know these photo’s don’t compare to the real thing. They never showed you what people looked like in detail, how they felt, or the emotions. “ Ryan tilted his head and looked up at me,
“Grandpa… Why don’t I have any other Grandpa’s?” I let out a sigh,
“I suppose I should tell you the story.”
Then I began. The moment when everything was really black and white—the day when I, Alfred, and my brother Nathaniel fought against each other in the world war. Nothing but the sounds of guns were being heard, people yelling. It was cloudy, and dark, nothing was visible through the smoke set up by all the many guns. You never knew if you were going to live. Or if you were going to die. My brother, Nathaniel moved to Italy not long before the first World War, we were originally from Germany; he went there for his studies. That was the last I saw of him. I was 21, and he was 19. Then war began.
Come the day we fought I wasn’t expecting we would come face to face. I loved my brother, more than anything in the world. We lost our parents at a very young age, so he was all that I had in my life. So when we separated, I knew it would be hard. I didn’t know the day we would see each other would be the day he would die—who would? I was dodging bullets left and right, firing. Reloading. Firing once more. Aiming at any man from the Italian side that I could. Not everything was perfect. Not everything going perfectly. Of course Germany and Italy weren’t the only countries there, you also had Russia, but that’s besides the point. I was shooting everywhere. Nathaniel was shooting in different places as well. Screams of bloody cries, while others cried blood, that covered the gravel on the ground. Boots against the ground, cannons going off. The war was in color. People were dirty, people were crying. The dead were released, while off in the oceans, ships were still sinking. I was scared.
For a moment the war seemed to be silent. No firing. No cries. No metal being churned. No bodies being burned. No victories earned. It was peaceful. I squinted my eyes, to see something being waved in the distance. It was white, flowing with grace in the wind. A flag? Why is it white? I took a few steps forward to see that it was my brother, Nathaniel waving a flag of surrender. I knew he saw me through the chaos, for we made eye contact, I could tell tears were in his eyes. I began to run towards him, yelling for him,
“Nathaniel! Nathaniel!”, he turned his head to see me running towards him. Through his pain filled eyes, I could tell that there was a smile there for me. I was maybe one hundred yards away when I was stopped dead in my tracks. My nightmare had been realized.
Shots that were easily hear ‘round the world. Two from a 24-Caliber Rifle were fired in Nathaniel’s direction. One went into his arm, causing his body to twist, the innocent flag still held in his hands, as his blue uniform was becoming stained with crimson blood; the other bullet went inside his back , dangerously close to his heart, before he crumbled to the ground. The flag fell to the ground gracefully after him, landing across his body. Both now stained crimson. I blinked. It all happened so fast. “Nathaniel..” I remember to myself, as the sky began to cry it’s tears upon the ground.
I ran towards my brother, by that point, luckily the war had ended. My fellow German soldiers tried to pull me back, telling me, “We have to get out of here!” and, “Let’s go!” I fought them. I had too. I wanted to see my brother, one last time! I ran to him, and knelt beside him. He was barely breathing. It was staggered, and sounded painful. He was looking up at me with tears in his eyes. He couldn’t move. He muttered to me,
“A-Al am I going to die…?” I looked at him, with tears in my eyes as I pulled him onto my lap, looking into his sweet brown green eyes, with my bright blue eyes. I ran a lone, black gloved hand through his gentle brown hair, brushing it from his face, as the rain fell on both of us.
“No… No you’re not going to die… We are going to go home… And you’re going to taken care of…. And get married… and… “ I could tell he was fading, which is what cut me off. In one more course whisper, he spoke softly,
“I-I will never forget you Alfred…. I love you…” then his head fell back. His body limp against me. I placed a hand under his head, and lifted it, looking at him. Tears falling from my eyes; my damp , blonde hair, falling on my face.
“N-No… you can’t be gone.. “ I took my index fingers from my free hand, and closed his eyes gently, before shaking him a little, “Nathaniel…” I shook him again, anguish and pain in my voice, “Nathaniel! Nathaniel you can’t be gone!! Nathaniel!!” I brought his body up to my chest, holding him tightly as I cried losing him was the hardest thing I had ever done. In that moment, the war was in color. No longer black and white with only the scarlet blood shining through. But the war was now fully in color.
For little Ryan, I ended the story there. That’s all I ever remembered anyway. Everything after that point, on how I got back home and such was nothing but a memory. I looked at Ryan, as my wife who was from Hungary walked in, wrapping her arms around my shoulders,
“So Ryan, do you understand what happened? Nothing is like the old war movies in war... During that moment, that one day I lost my brother, I thought I was laying in my grave at 21..” Ryan looked at me, then back at the picture that someone had gotten of me holding Nathaniel for the last time. He was giggling a little,
“Grandpa if you were dead back then, I wouldn’t be here! So that would be far too silly!” I ran a hand through his bright blonde hair, as my Lillian, my wife kissed my cheek,
“Just remember Ryan… The war was in color… Hopefully it gave you a life without war, and a world full of color…”
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