A Helmet for A Pillow By Morven Singh Finally, I got a well-deserved break from what seemed like my endless fate. Pain, it thrashed through my body like a bullet, crashing through silicon barriers of my skin like a dummy. I looked to my left and began to sorrow. My best mate Mark would usually stand there, as he had in the war. The dreadful images of all those years ago started to play in my mind… Over and over, like a broken cassette. I couldn’t let it go. April 1955: War is suicide. The sounds of terror began when we assembled in the forbidden trench, deciding our fate. The distinct sounds of fear ran up my spine, suppressing from the sight of death. The echoes of bombs, the pounding of hearts and grenade shells clunking on the brisk sand, spreading a plague of terror, along the forbidden trench. It was awful. Then we heard those dreaded words that can make a man throw up from fear. “Go over the top!”. I froze, my lungs deflated, staring into the abyss of the field, standing there motionless, my legs as solid as metal prison bars. There was no hope, the hindsight of my parents resting in their armchairs with a mug of hot cocoa and soft biscuits were my last words. I was shaken back to reality by the screams and shouts of broken troops, dragging the remains of injured soldiers. “Come on mate” were the last words that registered to my head before we scrambled up the trench ladder and dodged death by every piercing bullet. We were born to drill and die, staring into the depths of unexpected glory the lied beneath us. In an instant my leg clutched, forcing me to the ground. Down I went like an insignificant pin in a bowling alley and got a face full of mud. I got up and tasted mother nature on the tip of my tongue and spat a clot of blood onto the sand. Suddenly a throbbing sensation started to tense my leg. My head creaked as I gazed down at my leg, I will never forget what I saw. My stomach churned I had to look away to stop myself throwing up. A wall of barbed wire had pierced the back of my delicate leg, the blood dripping in the lonely remains of a puddle. I was a sitting duck to the Vietnamese gunners. I was ready to accept failure and guilt. War is suicide. A Helmet for A Pillow By Morven Singh My vision was blurred, ears were buzzing, and my hands had no feeling. It was time where no human awaits for. Death. From the far distance, I heard mumbling screams – someone or something was heading towards me. I close my eyes and prayed to the heavens. The mumble screams of, “There’s only one option mate”, scared the fear out of me. One young and innocent Vietnamese troop cut the prickly wire, leaving cracked shells of metal in my devoured leg and threw me into the bloody trenches. Gunshots and shell fire pounded my ears like a right hand from a heavyweight boxer. I will never forget the next sound I heard. I knew it was the end, so I looked up at the morning sun and prayed towards the heavens. I could hear the screams penetrating throughout my mind, this was it. I saw my mates die for something they had no choice for, war is suicide. Mark shrieked “I will fight for my freedom; I will die for my country.” It was one of the daunting phrases that haunt my nightmares. Mark jumped onto the field, dodging every bullet, launched into the Vietnamese base and then… That was the moment I knew not to take anything for granted. My friend, my brother left this broken world and dug his way into my broken heart. I melted, the gun dropped from hands shooting the remaining bullets into the air. I clutched the pin from the dusty grenade, and launched it, straight to the Vietnamese. Boom, bang – were the last sounds I heard before I hit my head on the ground and fell asleep on dead man’s land. War is Suicide. A thundering noise gradually hovered of my sleeping body, the blast of breeze blew through my scruffy beard, the militant solider, placed me onto the side of the helicopter, let me live my last seconds on earth. I was left in distraught looking down and gazing at Marks’s soul resting in the hands of the enemy. The horrible words of “fire”, dropped one of many heartless bombs which disintegrated the houses, trees and troops of Vietnam. I was sorry. That was the last image I saw of Vietnam and never returned. I woke up, wires entering my body, monitors A Helmet for A Pillow By Morven Singh beeping and people standing around my coffin. I never thought in a million years I would be lying here, in pain, slowly deteriorating. War is tortured death. April 1995: The images of all those years ago started to play in my mind… Over and over, like a broken cassette. The retirement village wasn’t enough to satisfy my new life, as a war veteran, as a retiree. The retirement village needed to enlighten my spirits and to distract me from the restless night from Vietnam. A garden was enough to distract my memories and thoughts, from all those years ago. I put my old energetic self into action, planted and seeded an evergreen garden, in which one would find domestic birds, flowers and a variety of attractive plants. Each seed I planted, represented one of my mates from war. Each one was unique and beautiful in every way. I covered the perimeter of the garden from dusk to dawn, scared that I will lose my mates again. Every morning the fragrance from the greenhouse gently drifted through the open doors and windows creating the perfect array of scent. The smell of honeysuckle, from the buzzing bumble bees, flew past the hairs on my chin– it’s heavy, overpowering fragrance conquered all the other scents in the garden. I was a young lad when I first got conscripted to war, a sixteen-year-old boy, who yet had a lot to live for. I didn’t have a normal childhood of freedom and choice, my childhood consisted of killing and slaughtering humans from different nations. I didn’t know the difference between good or bad. The world was different to what I thought it would be. The world is an extraordinary place. I yet need to know where I sit, in this small world.