DAISY ON A BATTLEFIELD
by Ashley F.
World War II
June 9th, 1944
There are daisies beside me. Two of them, in fact. My daughter’s name is Daisy. My wife chose it. I think it’s a beautiful name, well-suited for a girl.
I’m lying on the ground – it’s hard, and rocks dig into my back.
I can’t move much, or else it hurts. I can feel something thick and unceasing gushing out of my chest. I think I’ve been shot.
I touch the spot on my chest to make sure. Sure enough, there is blood. A lot of it. He must have shot me more than once. I should have been paying attention, but I had stopped for one second to reload. One second too late.
I saw his face after he did it. It was blank, expressionless. Merciless. Then, unblinking, he turned away, off into the haze of smoke and dirt. These are the effects of a long, drawn-out, bloody war. But I don’t blame him. I would have done the same thing. Every one of us would. There are no feelings in war. Only fear – however much we are allowed to have – and the cold-blooded murder of fellow man.
My ears are ringing fiercely, and the sounds of war are muffled, distant and far away. My face is dirty with soot and gunpowder. The stink of decaying flesh and dust enters my lungs, but I am too exhausted to cough or even care.
I’ve had a rough day, and I’m not sure I’ll make it home alright.
But that’s okay. I’ve done my duty.
Funny. I always thought it would be painful, to get a bullet through your chest. But I don’t feel anything besides the soreness of my legs and the pounding of a migraine. My body and mind are numb from the constant drilling, battles, and fear of death.
But now, in the face of it, I do not think I fear death. Now that it’s here, I think I accept it. I let my arms fall beside me, and I squint up at the sky where the sun is gleaming overhead. Ironic how the sun still shines over a battlefield where hundreds of men are dying violent deaths. Or how a daisy still grows in the midst of pain and suffering.
People all around me have died. Every one of my friends that I’ve made here, gone. And if they have done it, maybe dying shouldn’t be so bad. Maybe they’ll be there waiting for me, if all those things about Heaven were true – and ironically, I hope to God they were. Truthfully, right now, death sounds like a deep, restful sleep . . . and I am so, so tired.
I think of my wife at home, baking bread with our daughter. Their clothes are messy, my wife has her hair in a bun, and Daisy’s nose is dotted with flour. Oh, my sweet girl. And the unborn child I will never get to meet. I hope it’s a boy, I hope he’ll have my eyes.
With little strength I have left, I take a torn photograph out of my vest pocket. It’s them, it’s my two girls. Daisy is smiling, her mother is, too. They are happy, and I want to smile, but I am too weary. I look at them for one last time before I see them again, and when I get there I will hold them all in my arms as they shout for me, for Daddy.
Maybe it’s a horrible place to die, but then again, maybe it isn’t.
My soul will go up along with the others that I have fought so desperately with, the ones that I have cried out for mercy with, and shared my last moments of joy with. These are the men that I will die with. And I am happy for that.
Sometimes, there is peace in tragedy.
I close my eyes . . .
And I think . . .
How lucky I am . . .
To lie here next to a daisy.