I survived another day. I survived another day, but what does it matter? Francis is gone. My best friend is dead. Do you know what it’s like? To have to drag your closest friend back to base knowing that with every step you take, blood is rushing from his wounds faster than you could ever possibly walk? Do you know what it’s like? To beg the medical doctors to do something only for them to take one look at your best friend and deem him a lost cause? Do you know what it’s like, to hold your best friend’s hand as he cries in fear because he doesn’t want to die? Do you know what it’s like? To have your best friend’s hand go limp in your’s and have his body immediately taken away from you because other casualties need the bed? Do you know what it’s like? To know that you have absolutely no time to mourn for someone so dear to you? Because I know. I KNOW how it feels. Of course; I wish I didn’t. But this is war. Of course it hurts.’
All I wanted when I was young was to take over my parents’ bakery. It was all I ever knew, after all. The smell of yeast and the satisfaction of a perfectly raised dough. I never wanted to become a murderer. I never wanted to be drafted into war. I never wanted to hold people’s life in my hands and take it away with one press of my finger. But that is what it means to survive, isn’t it? You either kill your enemies or be killed. But is it worth it? Is it worth killing so many people just to live? Is it worth living if it means to discard my humanity in the process? I’m going crazy. It is as if I’m slowly becoming a monster. But then again, maybe I am. Maybe I already am; I can still remember his eyes as they looked at me, pleading me to let him go. To let him leave. But I couldn’t. It was either me or him. So I killed him. I killed him.’
I’m lucky to still be alive; that I know. I knew that the moment Francis told me how scared he was to die, his hand shaking in mine. Yet, I envy my comrades who have died. It’s sick and it’s wrong, yes, I know. Yet, I just can’t help it. But can you blame me? This life isn’t what I want. Day in day out the terrors of war rage around me. Day after damned day, I lose someone I know could’ve been a good friend. It seems like there’s not a second when another soldier is crying, be it in pain or mourning. Time after time I’m sent to the battlefield to fight for a cause I don’t want to be a part of whilst being expected to gracefully die if I am shot. Time and time again I pull the trigger and kill another man. Can this really be called living? All I am doing is following the orders of someone I cannot go against. It’s like my every action is being controlled. It’s as if every tear I shed is written down to fall in some sick script. Do I want to live this way? Can I continue living this way? I don’t know. Not anymore.’
This will be my last as a soldier. A few days ago, I was shot, and am now deemed unfit to serve. It sickens me, to feel such liberating relief. But that is how it is; I am relieved. Relieved to be relieved of my duties. Relieved to go back to relative safety. Relieved to have left the battlefield.’
Now, I never go asleep expecting to have a good night’s sleep, for even though my time serving has come to an end, the reality of what I’ve gone through haunts me still. I fear I will never sleep peacefully again. Every night, the eyes of those I have killed overwhelm me like a tidal wave. I hear their voices and their whispering pleas to have mercy on them. They wrap themselves around me like snakes, tormenting me with questions about how I could find it in myself to kill them. About how I feel to be living after having soiled my hands with too much blood. Questions I cannot answer. I am going crazy. My family don’t understand anything. They are simply glad that I am alive. Hah, being alive is the last thing I want.’
This will be my last entry. Simply put, I am unable to forgive myself for all that I’ve done. Even if I was ordered to- Even if I had no choice- Still, I do not forgive myself. I’ve taken the lives of so many. I’ve taken sons and fathers away from people who wished more than anything for the people I murdered to come home safely. I’m a murderer. And murderers shouldn’t live. To all those I have killed; you will be avenged. To my family; I’m sorry. To my comrades who have passed on, and Francis; we will meet soon. We may meet in hell for the deeds we have carried out, but I hope God will have mercy on us, for we simply did what we did to survive. The war is still raging. I wish every soldier, enemy or not, the best. On day 225 of the war, the world will lose soldiers, and I will merely be one of many. Goodbye.’
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Originally Published on Literary Tea