Have you ever heard them talking?
It’s all, ‘Back in my day,’ or, ‘when we were young,’ or, ‘my, my, the youth of today…’
Well, if only they listened to what I wanted to say. I wanna be a soldier. I wanna be big and brave. I wanna be respected. I wanna fight for my country. I wanna be just like my Grandpa.
We’re not all the same, us youth of today, I have respect for my elders, and I listen to my Grandpa and enjoy his stories. The way he tells his stories sets my imagination running.
I imagine the fields of long grass, the sweat dripping down his brow, the weight of weapons making the trek even harder than it already is, the empty shells falling, the fear, the excitement, all of the emotions you could possibly think of, the letters home, the smell of burning, the taste of burning, smoke and dust and wet and cold and everything, just everything.
He read me a letter once, a beautifully written letter that made it all the way from the very house we were sat in, to France during the war, a letter addressed to Albie, which I presume was short for Albert. My grandpa, no one had ever actually told me his name, he was always just, ‘Grandpa,’ to me.
The letter spoke of news from home, it told of the smells from the kitchen, the emptiness in the bedroom, and the sorry state of the vegetable patch in your absence, how sad it was seeing children sent to the country and how lonely the sweethearts were without their men. It was signed, ‘your darling, Evie,’ my grandma.
I played at school with all of the boys, there were two sides, like there are in most wars and we had a big hill at our school. It doesn’t seem as big anymore but I guess it’s because I’ve grown. We were one side; they were the other, making our way up the hill on our tummies with guns of fingers and thumbs. When I was shot down by the enemy, I got straight back up again, I guess it’s not like that in real life but it was just a game to us.
Grandpa said it was never a game to him or his men, he always said that at the end of his stories,
‘It was never a game girlie, never a game.’
Then he sits down in his armchair, lights his pipe and remains silent with only the droning sound of old records still playing.
I still wanna be a soldier, just like my Grandpa and his men.