To the front

Mirror. Green uniform on pale skin and clean shaved face staring into itself. The faucet coughs and whistles to the sound of water circling down. Feet clap impatiently on the tiled floor. A high pitch voice shouts a name following the screech of wheels of a vehicle coming to a halt. 

Steps fall down a staircase. There is a hug and kind words followed by young men’s voices mixed with the rumbling of an engine. White and gray, the city’s buildings, pedestrians and vehicles merge into a confuse mass sprinkled by occasional reds and greens. 

A beer splashes its foam on the wooden table and golden arrows of sun pierce the glass’ body painting yellow stripes on the foam stricken surface.  Merry voices and nervous laughter fill the hall. The low ceiling of the pub turns into the tall wide metal skeleton of the train station. A loud metallic whistle fills the air and a hurried murmur of boots pushes a crowd of green uniforms into the trains. 

The landscape rushes by in wide and oily brushstrokes. Melancholic greens and the red brick of small villages comes to a sudden stop in front of the sea. A fresh air blows from the south, filled with the sounds of water splashing and seagull cries. The boat rocks back and forth as its body cuts the gray waves. Young men murmur in low voices, looking overboard into the ocean.

It smells of green at the landing site. To the west pink lights burn in the horizon, to the east the camp’s lights break the incipient shadows at the edge of the field. 

The inside smells of bodily fluids, and the sheets are dripping with sweat. In the darkness, the occasional sprout of a snore, late night conversations or even furtive sobs break the monotonous hum of gunshots coming from the front.

Wet mud squelches under a barrage of boots. The walls of the trench are tall, and a foul stench of rotten food and dead bodies fills the air. Beyond lays the lunar landscape of the battlefield. A voice shouts an order, a machine gun spits a round of fire and a mass of uniforms, shaven faces, and bayonets thrusts itself forward through the barren field. 

He lays there, his back flat over the wet soil. Around him the battle rages. One or two of his comrades jump over his stretched arms before turning back, look at his waning gaze and continue their advance towards the other side. 

A big sharp pain spreads through his body from under his ribs. His arms are heavy and his gaze cloudy. He hears some voices speaking in a foreign tongue grow loud, linger for a second over his head and then turn faint before a gunshot startles him one last time. 

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