Not a cloth, all that flowed in my
Not another one. The people
flowed like rivers, never stopping for obstacles but swirling around them.
There was no more room but we had to accommodate him as they were the last
remaining troops that defended the east border of the warzone.
With a soft tone, he whispered to
me, “are you an angel?”, as we transported him to a medical bed. Dressed in a
white apron and veil, I would understand why, however, it was not long until all
that was left of the blood that had once flowed thick and scarlet in his veins saturated
my apron and was clasped in my callused fingers. As I hindered the blood wound
with a cloth, all that flowed in my head was silent montages of the possibilities
of preventing this from initially occurring.
Meanwhile irregular windstorms of
fire arrows skirled and sizzled outside our tents that induced teeth shattering
and tingling spines. My cinnamon hair was locked away by a hair tie that embodied
the colour of my own, and within minutes of duty it had attracted attention
away from the displacement of colour as if it seemed like the cinnamon had been
My heart began to pound
erratically with my mind searching for ways to escape. My stomach lurched and
adrenaline began to pump, steering me towards the exit of the tent to relieve
my symptoms. Now disengaged from the existence behind me, I peered my eyes
towards the aqua sky that looked like it had been smudged over with grey
crayon, a thin veil of smoky gunpowder; there was no place for alleviation.
Being a nurse was closer to the
battlefield than an insipid desk job back at home. I observed the mirror images
of defeat in the eyes of these men, but the tenacious courage lingered, their
desires to step back out onto the battlefield were painted on all their faces. It
had inspired me, I was eager to enter that realm of the war that I was not
accustomed to. But I was always told by my fellow nurses, “you’re not fit to do a man’s job” and “why would you want to sign up for your own death?”.
Why – was the question that hovered in my thoughts for a long time.
It reached the final glow of the
night, where all nurses had longed for every day. We cherished the
infinitesimal time of our break to scoff down our rations and received our pay
of the day. I was given 40c a day plus rations; only $12 a month.
It was an amazing feeling, when I
knew my life was less important and my courage was in need. I felt my fears
flow out and a warrior broke inside me. I secured my hair into a bun with the
hair tie I always wore, and hid it from the outside world of reality under my
A bitter wind swept the hillside
and the ground was now slick with rain, my boots now one with the mud depleted
the energy source I reserved for the battlefield. I was assigned a machine gun
that was the size of my torso as heavy as a brick, an onerous duty that I could
not avoid as I had to uphold my masculine identity. I had finally reached the western
front where the trench, metres long, became the guardian of our men, and
myself. The acrid smell of stale gunpowder infiltrated my nasal cavities, the
fearful blow of explosions just an arm distance away and the hoarse howl of
people encapsulated my senses… “Fire!” our commander screamed. My sanity was on
the verge of extinction, my finger laid atop of the trigger, but I was frozen
in fear. The attention to the continuous sounds of gunfire were then replaced
by a smell
of mustardDMD1 … poison gas. With
trembling fingers, I grabbed my gas mask and placed it over my head, I closed
my eyes and placed it over my face, then opened my eyes into a new light.
I stood in complete disorder,
when suddenly bullets began to pelt at us, slaughtering us like sheep
unexpectedly. I peered over to the left side of my shoulder and saw fathers
fighting to their last breath, the wounded began to double, laying thickly over
the marshy ground. I witnessed one brave yet impulsive soldier climb out of the
trench and began to make his way closer to the enemies. He reached just metres
away from the trench when suddenly a bullet had entered his right leg and he instantly
fell to the ground.
Instinctively, as a former nurse, I felt obliged to get him to safety, and the
gas mask had given me a feeling of protection and bravery that I needed to
climb out of the trenchDMD2 . I bolted to the
injured soldier and dragged him closer to the trench where other men then
transported him to a casualty clearing station.
Within seconds, my senses had
diminished, with a numb thud that tore out of my body, gathering flesh and
tissue on its one-way path through my abdomen. My sight greyed as my body began
to crumble to the ground. I watched the whole world within the span of my eye
fade in complete darkness.
I was woken up by the sounds of
an explosion, I instantly lifted my body with the thought of getting myself to
safety, when suddenly two hands pressed against my chest and forced me back
down. At that moment, I realised that I was not defending the American borders
but was lying on a hospital bed. My head felt lighter… I realised that my
helmet was no longer on my head and my hair was no longer hidden. I was a woman
I peered over my left shoulder
and noticed the soldier who laid on the bed next to me was the man that I had
saved at the battlefront. He turned his face towards mine and smiled. His eyes
then peered across to long hair which I was then faced with shock and disgust…
the look of betrayal was smothered on his face.
I was not rewarded with bravery but the reality of
the description more cruesome.
have an assertive behaviour.
Recognition of the contribution of women in war.