Empire

Posted in Uncategorized on February 16, 2009 by ollantaytambo

Dear Violet,

I can only think of you. In these terrifying and violent days, where the sky seems ruptuted with fire and the earth riven through with trench seams, your sweet kiss is my guardian angel. The faceless enemy presses down on us suffocatingly; I can barely breathe for fear even talking about it. Their uniforms are much like ours, they must have families like ours, lovers and children and mothers like we do, but we are on opposite sides of a cataclysmic gulf. This gulf is filled with an ocean that divides land from land, man from man. I am truly glad that we are not on English soil, my dearest, or you may very well be entangled in this terrible war.

We fire the cannons throughout the day and night. They are storm-bringers, thunderous and earth-shaking. When I hear them, I push the palms of my hands against my ears and shiver with horror. The noise and devastation they create seems almost too enormous and epic, as if God himself was coming to seek retribution for the rape of his good earth. We each have rifles to shoot at the enemy, and these too are more dangerous then I imagined they could be. Yesterday, Violet, I shot a man. I have been in this trench for five days and never knowingly killed a man, but now one is dead because of me. I feel as if I am carrying him around on my back as I trudge through the churned-up mud. Last night, as I snatched four hours of miserable sleep, I felt him curled up against my feet, as if he were a man-eating tiger mistaking itself for a domestic cat. This morning, he was a lead weight in my stomach, and I could not gain nutrition from my breakfast for he was eating it all for me.

Violet, I am scared that I won’t be coming back to you after all. Every second I can imagine the fatal bullet speeding through the air towards me, faster than a heartbeat and stronger than the love I feel for you even in a different land. My darling, I will not be sending you this letter. I cannot allow you to know what life is like here for me, and how frightened I am every second of every day. But every time I commit pen to paper, all that I can write is what I see, what I feel. I will try to write something happy and sterile for you to read, even though I know how complicated and passionate you are. I could not bear for you to be upset. If I come back from this treacherous barren land, the theatre for the end of all worlds, I will marry you.

I love you. I will burn my words, and hopefully my fear, for you.

Charlie xxx

Posted in Uncategorized on February 16, 2009 by ollantaytambo

My dear Black Bess,

Thank you for your concern about my recent scrape with a masked bandit. It is true, I was walking alone through the park late at night after a dinner party hosted by Lady Marie Ashley and I was stopped by a shadow-clad figure. However, he did not, as you assume, take anything from me. Instead, he handed me a scrap of paper with an elaborate ‘S’ drawn upon it. Then he seemed to melt away from me into the darkness and was gone.

Althought I was unhurt, I felt as if my heart was about to burst out of my chest with fear. I had noticed that the masked man had a sword at his side and I was convined that he would attack me. It took me some moments to gather myself before I could inspect the mysterious paper he had given me, and even now, a full week after the incident occured, I cannot understand what it could mean. My older brother, Thomas, whom I am sure you will remember, tells me that Lady Marie has become increasingly interested in the so-called ‘Scribble Spectre’, and he is convined that the paper is a message from this social deviant. I myself refuse to believe this fiction; instead, I think that a man is perpetrating this ridiculous myth to spread fear and disruption. I wonder what you think of it all?

I do hope you are well, Bess. I am sure I will see you on my return from the war.

Yours faithfully,

Charlie Fall

Thinking of You

Posted in Uncategorized on January 30, 2009 by ollantaytambo

I (never wanted this) am here. With dry eyes and a cold heart

I gouge your bl&ck liquid earth and drink your water.

                    In the depths of this smoky age

History is ripe with full stops. and the swollen comma,

A gr!m army of leaden khaki ants crawls forward blind

To your cowering families. We will win even though we have nothing to win for:

                    Except bloated politicians howling triumphantly behind their pulpits and on their soap boxes.

I (do not) know what the Motherland is. \Mother is a word loaded.

   Define me, define us, we are the new steam-driven mechanical detritus you cannot see.

Feral and anaesthetised by your PrOpAgAnDa

Our name is lost in static and here we’ll die for you.

God, God, God:::::: we’ll die for you.

The Young Man and

Posted in Uncategorized on January 30, 2009 by ollantaytambo

Diary,

The sea is made of white-gold. Its molten movement is foreign to me. Today the sun is burning down- it is late July, but my insides are cold and gripped with fear. I am sailing to a new and terrifying place to fight an enemy who wants me to die.

 I have been separated from my oldest brother Thomas. It’s probably for the best, because I know he would call my fear weakness. In truth, that is what it is. Yet I would do anything to see him now, just for the feeling of home. I wish that we weren’t on this endless sea. I wish that I were sitting in the park talking to Violet, feeding the ducks with my youngest brother James who was so very jealous that Thomas and I were fighting and that he could not, walking contentedly around the garden. I never wanted to be a hero, although Father tells us that this is a great honour.

 I am trying to busy myself with understanding this strange ship. I had never seen the sea before we started this voyage, and the vessel itself is something of great interest to me. It is an enormous iron thing belching steam upwards into the air. The way it moves through the water is extraordinary; so fast and sleek despite its formidable size. I had expected to be seasick- Father said I would be, but this ship barely rocks in the water. It cuts the ocean in half as it ploughs through.

 There are many men aboard. Most, like me, are soldiers going to war. Father tells us that the Empire needs us. I was taught much about the Empire at school, about the brave men who go to new lands for the sake of the Queen, but I had only understood it as formless shapes on a map. I remember Thomas’s wild excitement with geography. He has always loved the idea of an Empire: the sun never setting on England’s conquests. I am, at least, happy that one of the Fall brothers will bring his Father honour.

 Every now and again I get wild shaking fits. My hands can barely grip the pencil I write with. I am not so friendly with the other boys onboard, because I am worried of what they will think about my cowardice, but there is one who may be a good friend. His name is Albert, and he is very strong. I know he misses his sweetheart too- he sits writing letters to her, great long reams of paper filled with loving things. I have tried to write to dear Violet but when I put pen to paper her face departs my imagination and I can’t find the words to tell her how I feel, how much I miss her. So instead I keep her locked up inside my head. When I am feeling at my most afraid, and my hands won’t stop their trembling, I look inside and see her there, and she comforts me.

 Other than my writing, and thinking of Violet, the only other things to do onboard this ship are the constant drills the Sergeants put us through. ‘Advance, retire, left, right’- commands ringing through my head all through the night. We must clean our rifles and shine our boots around the clock. Our uniforms are pressed and starched. Together, we are as anonymous and small in uniforms as a single drop of water in the ocean. That is another of Father’s sayings. ‘As one, you are weak and useless. As part of an army, you are indestructible. Remember boy- a white sheet means nothing, but when combined with reds and blues it becomes the backbone of the Union Jack.’

Yours,

Charlie

 

A Bright Day

Posted in Uncategorized on January 22, 2009 by ollantaytambo

And one that is filled with purpose and longing. There is something about the freshness of the morning, a sky so blue the colour actually seems contrary to nature, that is strange to me. I keep looking out of the dusty windows of this old house, expecting the world suddenly to be transported into a different land.

Today I am writing to you, diary, because ‘history is about to me made’. That’s what father says. He told us that ‘this great nation will rise up and prove to the rest of the world what natural leaders we are’. I understand from what my father says that war is coming. My older brother Thomas and I will be expected to fight The Enemy (for that is what father calls them). Maybe that is why the day seems particularly foreign and strange to me today. My youngest brother James will have to stay at home while we ride gallantly off to battle, and he’s very cross about the whole thing. Father has told us about the noble sacrifice of war for as long as I can remember, but for some reason, there’s a low down feeling of cowardice in my stomach. I can’t tell Thomas about it. He’s been as brave as a lion since we were children. It would be shameful even to talk to mother about it- she gets so upset when father begins to talk about war.

I am beginning to feel cooped-up in this hateful old house. The walls are creaking with everyone’s secrets: my well-hidden fear, James’ stash of stolen bird’s eggs, Thomas’ love notes. I sit here and know the secrets of others while hiding my own. I can’t imagine what secrets my mother and father must have, but I can feel their unhappiness leaking through those same walls that so brazenly disguise everyone else’s. Sometimes in the night, I can hear my mother crying, but I don’t know why. Mostly I don’t think about it any more than I have to. Some secrets are kept for a reason.

I have one last secret to impart, that cannot leave this diary. I believe I am in love. I have met the most wonderful lady, a Miss Violet, who works as a governess. I felt at first that she must prefer Thomas to me. Everybody does- not just girls, but our teachers and Aunts and Uncles and even father. But she didn’t seem to look at him. She was looking at me.

If I must go off to war, maybe I’ll fight for her.

Yours,

Charlie Fall

Endings

Posted in Uncategorized on January 19, 2009 by ollantaytambo

In a stale old house, in a stale old room,

In a stale old corner, in the stale old gloom,

Through the stale old walls, past the stale old smell,

Of stale old centuries in a forgotten hell,

A stale old book abandoned within,

Stale old leather hiding secrets and sins,

A stale old journey of love and war:

Nobody takes the journey any more.

Memory erases the stale old room,

And clothes it again in the stale old gloom,

Undisturbed air heavy with stale old smell,

Consigning it back to a stale old hell,

The stale old book is locked deep within,

Stale old leather claiming the darkest of sins,

A stale old journey of love and war:

But you can’t hide from it any more.