From “The Forgotten Fallen” eBook
She reached down to her abdomen, pressing her hands against a swollen stomach. The pain was everywhere. It felt as though there had been one hundred rusty bayonets that had punctured her flesh. The blood and male effluent ran from her body. She stumbled and then watched the misery of the clouds as they spat down a dirty rain, not enough to snuff the flames. Or to wash her clean. All that she had known was broken and twisted by the soldiers that had marched proudly in to her home, and her.
The soldiers came with music, they stood valiant inside their martial costumes, they held their shiny weapons against the chest and looked ahead with the dignity that they consumed wherever they went. It was only for a short time that she and her family were told that the soldiers would stay. The town elders had agreed to house the soldiers, to accommodate them. The first night should have warned her. Crude language and comments followed by unwelcome fondling. Then the battle in the distance began.
Resistance to the invaders. Those who had taken to the hills and woodlands defying the soldiers and their ambitions. It was a gruesome war. She was forced to nurse the soldiers. She felt sorry for those that she helped. She cared for them. Some with broken bodies, and lost limbs. Blood and gushing wounds that caused the soldiers to scream in choir of misery. Most of the soldiers were young, trapped in the age between man and boy. They called her ‘mother’ and begged for the pain to go away. She had no training in medicine, all she could do was care and remove the putrid dressing from their bodies. She would cry at night for each of them.
She did not know what the war was about. Did it ever really matter? It was decided by statesmen and generals in far away cities that she could not pronounce. She was tired. She could not sleep with the distant thunder of death beating constantly. The wailing soldiers as they begged for mercy from an agony that their service had inflicted upon them, haunted her as she lay on the floor as sleep ran from her. The bedding had been taken for the officers. Each day, even as tired as she was, she wished that she could have taken the pain from those that called to an uncaring God or a mother too far away to know what her son was feeling.
Many of the soldiers were rude and cruel, even though the people from her town cooperated. The elders were shot and she watched an elderly lady tremble beneath soldiers boots as they bashed her into the mud. No one dared to protest. Instead all she could do was obey. She was hungry, the food was reserved for the soldiers and their officers. Even her home had been taken, the generations of memories were now trampled and robbed from her and all she could do was bow and hope that they would not take any more.
Her father was shot one morning. She cried and bowed because she was worried for her mother and younger brother. Then the soldiers cut her mothers head from her shoulders for sport. She buried her dear mother alongside her father. Her brother was too young to understand what was happening, so she held him when she could. Then one day after returning from the hospital she found him hanging from a tree. Though weak she cut him down and carried him over her shoulders. The soldiers watched on. Her family was now beneath the garden that they had all grown together in another time. She cried at night for her dead family.
The resistance in the distance had grown and the soldiers were no longer marching onward but instead trudging backwards in retreat. Her town was slowly fortified, she remained in the hospital caring and nursing while the others from her community helped to build walls and barriers to stop the approach of another army.
It was early in the morning when the clatter of machine guns and the bark of rifles woke her. Then the shattering roar of artillery, took the air from her lungs. Incoming and outgoing. She trembled and hid. She was pulled by her hair back to the hospital, barely dressed she tended to the endless stream of soldiers. She could not give them water, her own mouth was dry. She could only move clothing and dab it with fabric as dirty as their uniforms. The only doctor remaining fell to a stray bullet, his head open and bleeding as he lay outside the hospital. The wounded soldiers lay and watched his blood bubble in the mud.
The battle was not going well for the soldiers. The following night she could hear screaming and begging. She watched them take young girls and rip their clothes from them. They stabbed them with violence, each soldier taking a turn between the girls legs. The soldiers naked buttocks thrusting with vileness. She ran away, the soldiers were hunting for women and girls. Gunfire often the final climax.
“Not her” a lone soldier yelled as a small group of them cornered her. The group of soldiers ignored the other and went after her. The lone soldier watched on as she ran for her life. The pack of soldiers in pursuit, foaming for her flesh.
She hid in the corner of a school building, the soldiers found her. Then she was punched and kicked. She did not remember much else. Other than the repeated stabbing pain into her virginal body. The foul stench of their breath. The horrible words that they spoke. She tried not to cry, she would not surrender her tears to the soldiers. She hated them. It hurt so much. She could remember that. She would not cry.
Her hands remained on her abdomen. The soldiers had gone. They had left their legacy. Her town would likely become barely a footnote to history. In a future time and far away from her pain, men in leather chairs would sit in comfort as they excitedly rummaged through the pages of warfare not even noticing the name of her home. Nothing to them. It was everything to her. She had lost her family, her home and the town that she loved was now burning, She did not know what to do. She just sat as the rain stuck to her. She was just a girl, now forever alone.
An old man, crawled from beneath the debris, his teeth missing, he picked up twisted metal and pulled it to the side of the road. She watched him as he removed rubbish and wars muck from the street. A young boy, barely six began to help the old man. Soon other people from her town wearily began to clean up. She stood and felt her body drip with hurt. The experience that she had gained in the hospital guided her hands as she tended to herself and dressed her wound. Then she helped the others clean. It was their town. They would rebuild it together.
The war was soon over. Before the soldiers arrived, she was innocent. After they left she was another lost smudge of war. Her everything was a meaningless nothing to the historians page or to the generals plans. She and her community would rebuild the town, the pain and the loss would never go away. No matter how many flags were waved or parades held for the proud soldiers in their uniforms. All she could remember was the pain, the stench and their words as they pulverised her innocence. Such proud men, full of honour they were, home to their wives, sisters and mothers. Prayers for themselves to their God, heroes with medals and ribbons. While she applied the stitches to herself, between her legs. She knew who they really are. Their victim always will, even if history does not care. The soldiers would come again, they always did.