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?

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10. Two Years On...

11th November 1920

The morning snow had caused a big freeze- deathly ice everywhere I looked. The temperature had fallen a considerable amount over the past month- the early essence of Christmas hinting through the weeks. In the graveyard, everything was calm. The snow had somehow managed to hush the sad voices of many who knew the good man; and allow a song of its own to play, harmoniously sweet and peaceful. The repeated sound of feet crunching and disappearing into the snow sheet surrounded me, and my wheelchair slowly advanced towards the big bronze gate. As I gazed at the vast, cold sky, I found that everywhere I looked there was snowflakes falling elegantly like Ballet dancers pirouetting their way to the ground; depositing on top of each other like layered ice rocks. I looked up, gazing at the vast icy sky; snowflakes tinging against my skin as they fell silently. And they kept on falling- all throughout the ceremony.

"You're doing brilliantly, love," came the reassuring voice of my new Wife- Celia Brood. A warm, gloved hand cupped my right shoulder gently, and a warm kiss was planted on the top of my borrowed army hat. I raised my hand and patted hers, reaching behind me with my other hand and stroking her cold cheek.

"Thank you, sweet."

Behind me inside his insulated coffin, was Alan. He lay on top of four men's shoulders, gently rocking from side to side as the slow rhythmic stride of the men worked together to take him to his resting place. Inside the cool Church, I had insisted on being taken to the alter, just in front of the coffin. There I had spoken a speech which came from the heart- reliving past memories which only I and Alan shared. That day, I had remembered not only dear Alan- but what had happened on the same day, two years ago. The War had ended. That joyous day had also been filled with loss, loss of the many brave souls who had been killed defending and fighting for their country. The real heroes.

A couple of months later in June, Celia and I had married at this very same Church. It was lucky that we had managed to fit the Wedding in at all; what with the mess the War had left England in. That was the most happiest day I had ever had. All the while, when I was sitting in front of the Vicar; I had Alan's note in my pocket, knowing that he was with me not only in my heart. He was my best man despite not being there in person. My Mother was there, dressed in her extravagant lilac jacket and skirt; her large green-feathered hat hiding her facial features; casting a dark shadow over her face; yet the same proud smile shone from under the darkness. My Father was there too, wearing his best suit and standing as the ring bearer, holding the same proud smile. Celia's parents were there too - her Papa giving her away and her Mamma sat next to Mother who had jumped at the news that Celia's Mamma adored sewing just like she did.

Then the organ started playing and Celia was soon stood next to me; astonishing in her pearl white-laced dress and her cream veil. She was everything I would have hoped more... but better. I had dreamed about this moment since meeting her- and I couldn't believe I was living it. I guess sometimes dreams really do come true.

Throughout the ceremony, I could hear Alan's voice- telling me I was doing well and how much he was proud of me, and I knew he was there with me; overlooking my happiest day.

Yet due to the state the War had left England, it took quite a while to regain everything back to shape. That was what had brought Alan's funeral to this snowy November day; instead of in 1918 when it rightfully should have been.  But in a way, I was glad it was today. It felt it was better this way, with the setting and the atmosphere- Alan loved these days the best.

We had reached Alan's newly-dug resting place, and I was wheeled next to the site. The men carried him to the side farthest from me, gently throwing ropes underneath his coffin and up the other side; like they were placing a girth under a horse's stomach. That was when they started lowering him in, two either side. I watched solemnly as my friend reached the bottom; so far yet so close to me. Then they started filling the ground in; Alan disappearing underneath a sheet of soil.

"So long, Alan," I whispered quietly to myself.

"I'm proud of you, and I know Alan would have been too;" Celia said to me, her breath forming a warm cover over my ear.

I nodded, "that means a lot to me; Celia." As I said my final goodbyes I remembered what my Mother used to say.

"The harder a decision is, the stronger the outcome." I silently smiled to myself. This time, this one time, she was wrong. This was a strong outcome- the strongest I have ever known. But it wasn't a hard decision. I know it was what Alan wanted now... and that made it the easiest decision I have ever been apart of...

The service ended soon after; many people staying on for food and drink- although we didn't stay much after that, we had to catch the boat to Zebrugge. On our way out, we passed countless  un-weathered gravestones in the old cemetery, marking the final resting places of the Farmer's sons, Baker's apprentices and ordinary men and boys who died for our country in a cold distant place - the real heroes. I felt an overwhelming feel of respect.

 We drove back to our new home in Hollebeke, near Ypres, passing the battlefields which seemed completely unrecognisable. Yet as I peered out of the passenger window, I didn't see grief. I didn't see pain. The May-time Yellow Fields had vanished- plummeting the once ethereal   landscape into a mass of brown dirt. But as I gazed closer, I noticed warm patches of red growing in their places. Poppies were sprouting from the ravished earth, flooding the landscape with their rich blood-red colour which now grew in the place of the forgotten rape seed. That was when I knew a new age was beginning. The War had passed; the Yellow Fields going with it. But a new era was beginning - within the roots of the Red Fields...

 

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