Yellow Fields

It's 1918. World War One is coming up to four years; and seems like it will never end...

Private Colin Brood is a twenty-one year old army soldier who has somehow made it through the many brutal years alive. Yet when a horrible turn of events happens and Colin is left injured; his friend even worse, will he have the courage of a General to save his friend's life?

2Likes
3Comments
1437Views
AA

8. Alan's Choice

"Alan," I quitely whispered, across from my bed to his. He moaned slightly, rolling over gently onto his back and yawning widely.

"Alan..." I continued, now wondering if I was doing the right thing.

"What?" he replied groggily. There was no turning back now.

"T-there's something I have to tell you, Alan."

"What is it Colin?"

"I-" my throat seemed to clench up and forcefully prevent any sound coming from it. I cleared it, yet it was still trying its best not to let Alan know what I was starting to say. It was almost as if it knew what I was going to do... that it was a bad decision.

"Yes?" he urged, sounding slightly irritated that I woken him so far into his sleep.

"You-" no. I couldn't do it! I couldn't break his heart like that. "It's just that... I need your plate for the kitchen."

He sighed wearily and reached over to his bedside table, plucking the plate from its oak surface and handing it me all through groans of pain.

"Thank you. They were urging me to get it but they didn't want to disturb you." What a sorry excuse for a lie.

He nodded and snuggled back down cautiously, burrying his head inside the covers and instantly drifting off. He was like a baby; although he didn't have his full life ahead of him.

I rolled onto my back, lifting my lifeless legs with my shaking hands into a comfortable position. I had backed out; but what did I expect? I knew from the start of all this that I wouldn't have the power to tell Alan the news if worst-came-to-worst; and in this case it had. I needed someone else to tell him, someone else who'd had years of experience with many men in Alan's position. What about Celia? No- I threw that thought right out of my head. I couldn't ask such a big thing of Celia and expect her to carry it through; after all, I have been nothing more than an acquaintance of hers for the past...what? Days? Weeks-? Only the bravest and strongest of us all would be able to tell a dying man that what he first thought wasn't actually true; that all his hopes would be shattered into tiny pieces that could never be glued back together... that his time in this cruel world was almost up. How could I think that Alan would survive this? His injuries were severe- there was no denying that. Yet why didn't I suss out earlier that he wasn't going to make it? It was because I was fantasing. Fantasing about the impossible, once again too scared to face the truth. That is what the War has done to me; it's made me into a man who shys away from the truth, denying it and ignoring it until there is no option left but to believe it- and that was what has happened with Alan. Annoyed with my genuine ignorance, I forced myself to sleep; dreaming of nothing else except to be free from this horror, and return to a world where nothing mattered except my past.

                                                                        ****

I shot upright, my whole body juddering. Where was he? Where was that angry, tearful man coming toward me with his gun? I had fallen onto the floor and started to crawl backwards; still facing the maniac. My body was heaving with fright, and the same sweat I had encountered the morning of the explosion had caught up with me in the night, accompanying my body in a mask of cold.

"Sleep well?" Alan asked, sat upright in his bed and holding a slight look of amusement on his face.

"Nightmare," I panted, not believing how much it had shaken me.

"That's what the War does," he replied with a calm, yet serious air revolving around his complection.

I nodded solemly, "I know."

Suddenly his voice changed, adopting an unusual sence of pleading "Colin?"
I twisted my head, leaning it on my duck-feather pillow, "yes?"

"I want a proper answer for this- it's a very serious question and I shan't thank you for lying to me for my benefit."

"Ok..." it seemed a harmful enough inquiry, yet I felt the uneasy feel that the question wasn't what I wanted to hear.

"Am I-" he sighed deeply, his voice shaking slightly, "am I... dying?"

That was the exact question I didn't want to hear. It had seemed ok before not to tell him the truth. I felt it was better for him and for I- just so he didn't have to hear the pain and uttermost devastation of the news from a friend... but there was always that thought that the cringy subject would appear again, somewhere out of the blue- just not in such a short space of time since the topic was last dismissed.

"Tell me, Colin."

I looked down, hiding the evident water in my eyes as I traced the quilts' stripy pattern with my eyes.

"I know I am. I just need you to tell me it's true; rather than live a lie that's bound to crop up again."

With every word he spoke in his cracking voice, my heart wrenched more and more. I didn't have the words to tell him what he was asking for. I didn't have the sound in my throat to speak out and tell him his worst suspicions were valid. So, I did what any man in my situation would do. I simply nodded plainly, never making eye contact.

There was a long pause, but I didn't dare look up from the safe place I was in. After a few minutes, he spoke; his voice exasperated. "I see."
This time I looked up. I expected to see a man unrecognisiable to the one I had known so well. To see a watery, melting face as the impact of this dreadful news had burdened him. That- in a way- was what I wanted to see. Instead I saw the man who held a sheer stone- cold expression. His face had drained of all colour and he looked more like a ghost, than his usual human self. His face was blank- and I couldn't read whether he was more devastated, fuming or simply astonished.

"Say something, please," I begged him.

He didn't even look up from the corner he fixated on.

"Alan."

"It's... what I expected." I guessed from the low, fading tone he ended on that it was the end of any conversation for now. After that last sentence, he rolled quietly onto his side and hid under the covers like he did before; yet now I believed it was simply to hide from what faced him when he woke. I did the same, turning the other way and lying uncomfortably stick-straight under the quilt. I felt so ashamed to have told him his fate. He wasn't going to have a future. He wasn't going to have a life. He would spend the rest of his sorry days- however long they were- lying in bed aimlessly doing nothing. No days out. No laughter. No fun. Nothing apart from eating, sleeping and occasionally getting up and walking the short distance to the toilet. That's what Alan would treat it like- making sure he wouldn't enjoy the rest of his time because he'd think it would be pointless. After all, what was the point of enjoying himself if he got too into life again and couldn't live it longer? What a waste of a hero's days. But was there a chance, just a slight one; that I could change what he thought? Make him live his time to the fullest extent before going in a dignified fashion? I could look after him for however long he needed; allowing him to have the most fun he'd had in ages. That way his last memories would be happy ones.

"Alan?" I asked, determined to tell him my proposal.

"Yes?" he replied, a rock-solid voice to match the stone-cold expression he wore earlier.

"What about I look after you, for however long you wanted. I'd care for you when you needed it, I'd take you on fun days out we'd both enjoy. You know, really re-living the past and making it... well the future?" I knew that as I said it, I wasn't asking for his agreement. I was going to do it; whether he wanted me to or not- even if he grew to loathe me throughout it. I wouldn't let him die on an unfulfilled life.

"No, Colin. Thank you; but no."

"Why not?" I replied, my voice seeming more aggressive than I intended it to.

"Because you need your life too. I shan't allow you to throw away the rest of your life just so I'd be happy. It would be selfish of me and highly stupid of you." He never turned from his side to face me. He spoke with the same, cold, icy air that made me slightly conscious of him.

"Well... you needn't think like that, Alan. I'm offering you- no- telling you that I'll be there to help you, to care for you if you need it, to give you fun days out whenever you want. You deserve it, Alan. You're a hero- you fought for your country!"

"I'm nothing but a lame mule, Colin. Surely you above all people could see that," he sounded slightly offended.

"You're not! Not many men can say they gained their injuries in the Great War! Not many can have the recognition when they're gone that they died for their country. How noble does that sound?"

He shifter onto his back, speaking to the ceiling as he did, "many, Alan. This blasted War has taken nothing but men's lives- and their dignity. Nobody, not one person would be amazed and proud to look after me and my injuries. Not one kind soul would jump at the chance to care for me when I get worse. And do you know why? Because they'd think I'm a weakling. They'd think I'm good-for-nothing. Worthless. They may even slip in a few strong sleeping tablets just so they don't have to wake up as early to give me my breakfast fed through a straw. And do you know what? I'd admire them. They would have the right view on me."

I couldn't believe how ill he was speaking of himself. How much he had changed through some life changing news. Yes, it was devastating. But he had the time and the chance to change his point on the matter- to enjoy his time. If this was the time to live life- why wasn't he taking it? I'd accept any chance I got to make something of myself and enjoy the rest of my days. Anyone who respected their lives would. But not Alan. I started to feel angry, possibly a jar of pent up frustration which had been built up over the past few days; and I was trying hard to keep it inside.

"You know Alan, I can't believe how little you think of yourself. You are a War hero. A War hero. Why wouldn't anyone be proud to look after you? You've fought for your country. You've fought the enemy- and it takes a lot to stand up to them Alan. I can't see why anyone wouldn't want to help you."

He scoffed mockingly; a thing he had never done before.

"You've always seen the bright side of things Colin; but I'm afraid this time your wise words have no impact on me."

Suddenly, that jar seemed to burst.

"You know, you can be such a stubborn git sometimes Alan." My strong words sent a surprised expression to his attire; and he twisted his head round to look at me, his red cuts highlighting his face, "you just can't see how noble you've been."

"Well I'm sorry to disappoint you, but there's nothing noble about killing other men alike myself in cold blood."
"But it's not cold blood Alan! They were and still will be doing exactly the same! They'd be fighting for their country just like you. No, maybe it's not noble to kill other men- but it's bleedin' well brave to defend your country! Have some sense and enjoy life whilst you still can."
"But I have nothing to live for- nobody to go home to. I have no Mother to swoop me up into a huge cuddle and feed me Cottage Pie. I have no Father to give me a humongous pat on the back and engulf my hand in his whilst he held a look of sheer pride on his aging face. I certainly don't have a sweetheart to kiss me and hug me and say how our child's Daddy is a hero. Don't you see? If I live the rest of my days with fun and laughter, I wouldn't want to go when the time came. What's the point of enjoying myself when It will all have to end sooner than it begun?" his voice never cracked, his icy breath constant throughout his strong speech. All throughout it my anger rose, seeming to burst out at his last word.

"You're just too stubborn to realise that you should enjoy your life whilst you still can! Why can't you just open your bloody eyes Colin, and see that you shouldn't spend your time sitting in this place doing absolutely nothing? I've told you I'm going to look after you and help you, and all you can say is "I'm not noble," and "I'm nothing more than a lame mule,"! For God's Sake man, let the wall go down and let loose a little," my heart had started to frantically beat, seeming to travel to my head and my throat. Yet all the while, Alan remained like a still statue. Not saying a thing but taking all my insults in. I waited for his reply. He just seemed to stare at the same corner he had done before. He didn't say anything; and I unwillingly felt the anger build and build and build until I snapped again.

"Say something!!"

He merely looked at me, with bored eyes and smiled weakly; all the while seeming to adopt a mocking aroma; "don't waist your breath, friend."
"Don't waist my breath?" I repeated, trying hard to keep my even voice up, "don't waist my breath? Why would I be wasting my breath when I tell you these things?"

He laughed that same, hollow laugh; "because you know I won't take your advice."

"Bloody Hell Alan!!" I exclaimed, making one of the nearby nurses jump and look up at me with a shocked face- but I didn't care, "how can you be so insensitive and careless to think that you're not worth anything?"

He just nodded blankly.

"DON'T JUST NOD AT ME EITHER!!"

This time, the nurse started to walk over to us, Alan lying innocently on his back and me seemingly sat upright against my pillow.

"Is everything alright here gentlemen?" she asked politely.

"Yes, thank you." Alan replied with a forced smile.

"No. Can you tell this git to stop acting like a bleedin' toddler and live his life," my harsh words seemed more like a command; and the nurse shuffled uncomfortably on her feet.

"Colin, calm down," Alan said.

"No I won't calm down!! Alan, why can't you see how much of a fool you're being?!"

The nurse seemed even more shocked, her mouth forming an O shape and her eyebrows disappearing into her fringe; "please, Sir. Try to keep your voice down- we have new patients who are in serious condition trying to get some sleep."
"Serious condition? What could be more serious than this man not wanting to enjoy the rest of his days?" I turned to Alan, "well you know what? If you want to die unhappily and not having lived to your full potential, then go ahead- I don't care anymore. Just sit in a bed all the time, drinking, eating, sleeping and never enjoy yourself. I won't come to visit you. I won't. And do you know what? I won't even come to your funeral- I wouldn't want to waste my time on a soul that wasted his." I shoved my body around, turning with my back to Alan and the astonished nurse. I instantly felt awful, ashamed. The words I had just said to Alan were unacceptable and quite frankly, unforgiving. I blamed it all on the War. Only such a brutal thing could swipe the kindness and loving Angel from a man and replace it with the heartless, soul killing Devil. How could I have possibly had spoken so disgustingly, and so carelessly to the man I had grown up with and respected highly? My dying friend who needed me the most. I was a monster.

When Alan spoke again, his voice seemed strangely warm and inviting- an immediate change from the icy words he'd spoken earlier; "goodbye, Colin."

Goodbye? Why on earth would he be saying goodbye? He was out of his mind- that's what he was. Goodbye? I was only going to sleep and that's all he was doing. What a fool; throwing away his life like it was some leftover meat that had gone mouldy and bad. Speaking such strange sentences that made me want to yell at him even more. Was this his way of saying he was no longer my friend? Suddenly a vulnerable feeling overcame me, forcing any remaining anger straight out into the atmosphere and replacing it with the immediate thought that I had just lost my only best friend. No. Alan wasn't like that. He'd be able to see my point and accept that I didn't mean the harsh words that I had spoken so meaningfully. Yet I wasn't ready to speak again- not for a long time. I closed my eyes, replaying the strange words Alan had said to me over and over again almost like it was a lullaby; until it sent me off to my dreams... 
 

 

 

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...