The Message


1. Chapter 1

I’m here in the English Trenches, , I just hope it’s soon. I have a terrible secret. It’s been with me since I was 17, 24 years ago today. I’m Jonathan, but everyone calls me Johnny.


My secret is…is I was the reason Tilly (our baby sister) died; she was such a happy baby that’s before I was baby-sitting her that week.


Mother, Father and the rest of my family were going to Scotland for the week to see great, great aunt Jacky and she despises me and Tilly for some reason. I was taking care of Tilly and she wouldn’t eat, I tried and I tried but she wouldn’t. I tried forcing her wooden spoon into her mouth, but still she wouldn’t take it. I tried all week but she wouldn’t eat.


She died the night before my family were due home, I cried, “Why did you Til? You were so cute and sweet. It’s my fault! I killed you!” I just wept that whole night. My family came home the next morning, Mother went straight upstairs to the baby’s room, I heard a scream then a weep, “oh Johnny! She’s dead!” she yelled, I ran upstairs to her, “Yes Mother, she wouldn’t eat….” She starred at me as if it was my fault, “get out, get out! GET OUT!” she yelled,

“Mother, I…I tried!” I said putting my arm round her, she wiped away from me and yelled for me to get out, I ran into my shared room, threw things into my suitcase and ran out the door, Toby tried running after me, I stopped and shook my head at him then ran up into the village.


There were men walking down the street in bright red uniform, “JOIN THE ARMY TODAY AND HELP SAVE YOUR COUNTRY FROM THE GERMANS!” the corporal yelled, we all cheered, “LADS 17 AND OVER CAN JOIN! SIGN UP AT THE VILLAGE HALL!” he yelled again, I looked around, there were lads walking behind them, an old man was stood behind me, “You go lad, you look strong and good for the job, go on lad you isn’t a coward are you?” he said pushing me forward, I walking off with the rest of the lads joining.


So that’s how I ended up here, I joined the army, walked straight down that path to the village hall and signed up, I may have been 16 but I was taller then the average 17 year old, they looked at me as I signed up, “Your name is Jonathan Parson? Right your set to leave in 2 days, so go home and get ready,” that was a problem, “I…I can’t sir. My mother

kicked me out sir,” they looked at me and frowned, “Take this Parson and go lay in the corner.” They threw me a tattered sleeping bag and I went and set it in the corner.


Let me start this story probably…


The whistle blew and we ran forwards towards the enemy trench, I had not bathed in weeks and absolutely stank of sweat, mud and I was covered in dried blood. Me and Harry Pettings (My new good friend) legged it through the wire and ditches filled with mud. The Germans knew we were coming, they pelted shells, bombs and anything else they could kill us with at us, Me and Harry dived through but then fell into a hole, “You listen to me Johnny, if anything happens to me… Pretend to be me and go home…to my dear mother…Siblings if they’re still there and Grandpa, you hear me? Break the news to them in good time, they deserve that,” he puffed then we both fell unconscious.


When I woke up, I tried tapping Harry, “Harry? You alive?” I whispered, there was no replied. I tried to find his heartbeat but nothing was there, this was my job to swap identities with the man who was like a brother to me and asked me to, I quickly unhooked Harry’s ID badge and put it in my pocket.  I peered out of the hole into the darkness of the night; I decided to crawl for it.


When I was back in the trenches I discovered I had a bad leg and couldn’t walk very well, our leader sighed at me and sent a telegram to the hospital to get a cart up to the front line, as well as a telegram to be sent to Harry’s family, but they will have a surprise soon, very soon…


The morning of 15th November 1918 was a pleasant one for I was walking down a village road on the outskirts of Cornwall, I was away from where my home was if Mother had forgiven me yet, I walked down the road and came to a cottage which was Harry’s own families, “This is it Johnny old boy! New life, new start,” I muttered to my self as I walked to the door and opened it, the room was silent and I saw a large, small woman sat on a chair in the corner, an old man asleep in the armchair and a boy sat at the woman’s feet, the woman was reading a yellow piece of paper, the telegram! I popped my head round the door, “Mother? I’m home,” I said imitating Harry’s voice, it wasn’t hard for I came from the other side of Cornwall, the woman looked at me, “Harry? Is that you?” she asked, I nodded, “Yes mother, its me,” I said going fully into the room, she flung herself at me, so hard I nearly toppled onto my backside “Oh Harry! I received a telegram saying you were dead! But they were wrong! They were wrong James!” she kissed the boy, he starred at me, “You look different Harry, taller perhaps?” he questioned, I smiled, “The war changes people James you’ll learn that perhaps one day,” I laughed but he cowered away behind my new mother.


I settled into my new home very quickly, to quickly in fact…


I started work up on the farm where Harry’s dad had worked within a week of being here, I was to be animal handler, no it was not like the circus animal handler you get, I was to handle the sheep, cows, pigs and horses and when they were giving birth I was to (if need be) help them by pulling the baby animals legs from the mothers bottom, it was very gruelling!


And within a year I met a girl, Bethany her name was, my beautiful Bethany, her eyes were azure blue, her hair a deep red like red wine and she was slim and slender and the a year younger then me, we were wed the following year after meeting each other, it was a wondrous occasion.


But I had lived there with mother, grandpa and James far longer then needed, Bethany, my wife was expecting our first child. “Mother, Grandpa? I need to tell you something, both of you,” I said sitting myself in my chair, they starred at me, “Yes?” mother asked,

“I…I am not who you think I am…I am Jonathan Parson,” they stared at me unbelievingly, “LIER! YOU LIER! YOU MADE ME THINK MY HARRY WAS ALIVE!WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH HIM!” mother screeched, I sighed and took a deep breath, “I…we, me and Harry were out on the battlefield when we fell into a shell hole and Harry said if he didn’t make it, I was to take his place to stop you from grieving so much and James, he said to give you this,” James looked at me, he may of been 16 but he was nearly taller then me, I handed him Harry’s ID badge, “Harry’s ID badge, but how,” he looked at me straight to my eye, “I took it, the morning I discovered he was dead, James you keep it, you hear me, I may not be your brother by blood but you’ll always be my little brother,” I said hugging him, surprisingly he didn’t push me away he clasped me, “Thank your Jonathan, thank you so much,” he wept,

“Call me Johnny, now let me go find Beth and tell her the news,” James looked at me,

“What news?”

“I cant stay here James, Mother would kill me, she hates me now I’ve told her and grandpa..” I looked over at him, “Well when mother tells him, he’ll get the shotgun out James and you know it, just promise me one thing James..” he looked at me,

“Anything Johnny,”

“Take care of my baby if Beth hates me too, you hear? I want that baby to grow up as a proper country child and never go out to war ok?” I starred at him and he nodded, “Good bye little bro, I’m off to tell Beth,” I left the cottage and went up through the town towards Bethany’s home cottage, I had told her my name was Johnny, but she had never met Harry as Harry was a year older then me so two years older then Beth.


I knocked on the door and Beth’s mother answered the door, “Ah, hello my dear! You came just in time! Bethany’s giving birth!” she said happily, WHAT! It couldn’t of been 9 months already could it? I ran upstairs to Beth’s bedroom and flung open the door, she was laid there on the bed leg up in the air supported by pieces of cloth tied onto the bed legs, I ran over to her, “Its ok Beth, I’m here now,” I whispered into her ear, she turned to look at me, “Baby…early….by…2…weeks!. So…pain…full…I’m…glad…your…here…Johnny…babe,” she screamed and I heard the baby wail, “That’s it baby girl, keep pushing, nearly there now,” I whispered, she screamed once more and in a slippery rush the baby was born but Beth lost consciousness, “BETH!” I screamed, I grabbed my pen knife and cut the umbilical cord, I grabbed a towel from the end of the bed and wiped the baby with it, I was of course very gentle and managed to clean it up, I then squinted at its lower half to discover that I had a daughter, I grabbed a blanket and wrapped her up then rushed downstairs, “MARY! MARY! BETH HAS PASSED OUT!” 

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