A Sea of Red

By Emma Johnston - Year 12, Gore High School

I walk amongst the poppies, row on row.

The wind blowing through my long grey hair, whips it into elegant swirls.

The sun sits snugly behind the fluffy clouds which litter the soft, blue sky.

Such an incredible contrast.

Silence basks in my empty mind, but not for long.

Now, I can hear the whispers; they are coming closer, getting louder.

I still like hoping that they will pass by and leave me unnoticed. But they don't.

They claw their way in through my closed eyelids, invading my mind, reeling through the tape of images, wiping the dust from the lenses, making me relive it all again.

Backwards and forwards, I rock, trying to shake the ghosts from my mind.

Just up above, in the blood-stained fields, lie the rotting corpses of the phantoms which occupy my nightmares and weave their way into my waking hours.

My entire body is crippled with fatigue as I shake uncontrollably, and my lungs strain as they separate the filth from the oxygen.

They call me insane, but aren't we all?

Humans run around exercising rifles like a writer exercises a pen.

Killing is like breathing, and if one wants to continue breathing in such a place as this, they must continue to kill.

I have killed and I will continue to kill until I am killed.

Such an obscene waste of life it seems, but I don't dare utter a word.

On the edges of this trench, we hunch over, bundled through and through, ready and waiting for our time to go.

The commander, staunch and serious as he is, has a look of fear in his eyes, for our men are stretched thin and so, too, are our resources.

There are no nutrients to fuel our bodies and no rest to repair our wounds.

Running on pure adrenaline, we wait.

Explosions split the air in the near distance and that's our cue.

I run straight, firing my rifle alongside other Allied troops.

Noises combine to form a harmony of murder around me.

Thirty feet to my left, a mine is set off sending upwards a billow of earth, and then I hear that ghastly scream as he falls motionless.

Part of me envies him. Now he is somewhere peaceful, somewhere where the wind blows gently and the sun shines softly.

The men in the front line make steady progress as they mow through German troops.

My feet begin to twist, much like my mind, as I fall down.

My jaw sinks hard into a dirty bog.

I lie here now and look up at the dull grey sky.

Here there are the living, but here I see no life.

A warm sensation floods my chest and now I know.

I close my eyes and think of that place I shall go where the wind blows quietly and the sun shines through fluffy clouds.

Among these vibrant poppies in rows, I now walk.

Here I see no living, but here there is life.


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