Soldier Boy

Sam has just arrived home from doing service in Afghanistan. Broken and depressed, he stumbles across Leanne, a beautiful girl who helps him back on his feet. But as they grow closer, Sam begins to realise he's not the only one with problems. The question is, will that keep the two youngsters apart, or make their relationship stronger?

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1. Prologue

 It was early evening, and the half-moon shone down on me as I strolled briskly down the street, staring at my feet. This wasn’t any ordinary evening on any ordinary day. I had just moved into my new house in a quiet peaceful town not far from Liverpool. I had lived in Liverpool city all my life, but after three years of being a soldier, the chaos of the town centre became too much for me. I needed to live somewhere that could put my mind at ease. I’m afraid of my own shadow nowadays, and being in large crowds of people is just plain stressful.

 I joined the army three years ago, when I was nineteen. I didn’t have anything I wanted to do with my life, to be honest, and the army seemed like a good option. It felt like I was doing something good for the Queen and country, but when I joined, I didn’t know what I had got myself into.

 The first few months were basic training. How to use a gun, that sort thing. But nothing could have prepared me for the real thing.

 I fought in Afghanistan in 2007, just last year. My twenty-second birthday was approaching, yet it seemed insignificant and it had a place in the very back of my mind, where dust and other unimportant things like to gather. Me and the man I considered my best friend, Harry Thomas, fought together every day. I think the reason I liked him was that he was quiet and didn’t ask many personal questions. We got on well, that was the main thing. We steered clear of most other people, and this suited us well.

 I didn’t cry when he died. Not at first. Even though I watched as the bullet went through his neck, I couldn’t, wouldn’t, cry. It became clear to the sergeant that I wasn’t quite right anymore. I was sent to a hospital for men who had gone mad from what they saw in war. I refused to speak to anyone.  Then the tears finally came, and they wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t focus on restoring my mental health. In the end, it was decided that I wasn’t fit for army life. I was labelled with “posttraumatic stress disorder” and then sent home to live with my mother. Every night, I dreamed of my friend’s death. Every night I woke up screaming, covered in a layer of sweat and wondering what I had done to deserve a life like mine. Some days were better than others. Some days, I would be up and dressed, washed and watching TV. Other days, I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed and I would lie in my bed, windows and curtains shut, staring at the dark ceiling.  Six months on, and I’m still not quite right, but I’m ready to try to move on. I inherited a large sum of money from a grandparent when I was young, and with the money I earned in the army and some money from my mother, I took a chance and bought a small house for myself. And that leads me back to the day I moved in.

 I had thought that living somewhere quiet would be best, but I was beginning to have second thoughts. With my furniture all in place, I sat on my second hand leather sofa, wriggling uncomfortably. The creaks of the house were making me nervous. In the end, I grabbed my coat and went to explore. I wanted to check out the Chinese takeaway down the road anyway.

 So there I was, walking down the street, when Harry decided it was time to invade my mind once more. I panicked, quickening my step, but he followed me, dancing beside me in the cold October wind. I broke into a run, but he was faster, he always was. He stopped a metre or so in front of me, a ghostly image of himself. Then I collapsed.

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