He couldn’t hear a thing. The shells and mines and gunshots exploding all around in the smokey grey air were deafening. His sight was going foggy, his ears were ringing, and it was getting more difficult to breathe every second.
Soon, it would be morning in Oakland, California. The air would be golden yellow, and the trees would shimmer and and stretch, leaves fluttering in the soft fingers of a breeze.
His hands and face were caked with gritty sand and blood, in the creases of his flat palms and under his nails. One hand was clutched uselessly around his rifle, and the other twitched and scrabbled against the wound on his chest from which grew a small red fountain when his heart beat.
He was dying.
When the sun rose in Oakland, Elise would wake with Pete. She would talk at him happily when they sat outside the house they were sharing with some other girl friends. None of them had a child, but Jessie was expecting. And all five women had husbands or boyfriends all the way across the sea, serving proudly and sending letters when possible, telling of how boring it got sometimes, and the things the men did to pass the time. Elise told Pete who wasn’t old enough to understand about his father who was bravely fighting the communists a continent and an ocean away.
She wished he would come home to meet his baby soon.
The Private imagined how Elise would look now, holding a baby boy who was faceless in his mind. She would smile toothily at him and her long brown hair would curl over her shoulders.
There was no sound, and the water the washed inside his Government Issue boots and socks, and soaked the bottoms of his dark pants, and made his ankles wet and stained scarlet.
Andrews turned his head to the side and saw only fuzzy outlines of men, who were crouching on the beach and falling and falling and falling. So he looked up again, and everything was grey-white and red and coldly damp. And in his mind’s eye everything was warm yellow and soft and comforting.
And later that morning, Elise sang to Pete, out of tune and melancholy, of men who were too far away and their wives who stayed and hoped for letters. Her voice blossomed, a rose in the warm air, only to wilt and be washed away with the tide, bleeding into the weeping red water.
And Private Andrews choked out rose petals onto his chin and the sand, and the green sunlight in his eyes faded and was gone into the sea.
What I wrote after we studied WWII and D-Day in class.