Empire

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

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