The 19th installment of my son’s online fiction series. If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.
May shivered. She rolled her aching body under the piles of blankets draped across her bed. She swallowed and immediately regretted it since her throat felt like sand. An involuntary cough forced its way out of her lungs causing her body to double-over on the mattress. When the coughing ceased she tried to sniff but only one side of her nose would give. She felt awful.
She had been sick for a few days now and only getting worse. A good number of people were getting sick in the town; she was surprised the Bransons had not yet caught it seeing how they were taking such good care of her. May could tell they were getting worried about her, though. Yesterday they had called for the doctor. They never called for the doctor… (Read more)
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The 18th installment of my son’s online fiction series. If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.
Tuesday, July 23, 1918 – Comfort
My name is James Samuels. I am a US Army chaplain here in France, behind the front lines where I assist with the wounded and dying. By this means I have obtained this journal as a dying soldier named Roger Adams passed it on to my possession. I know nothing of how he acquired it, but do know it must have impacted his life in the same way it has my own. I am happy to write that this man placed his trust in Jesus in his dying moments.
Over the past few days I have been reading this book, the entries herein and the requests that have been made by its various carriers. It has been a comfort to my soul here in this deathly place.
Our Savior promised us the Comforter before He left. How little did we understand the value of such a promise. As men, we claim grit and guts and no need to be comforted. Yet out here, as I see maimed men and exhausted soldiers, comfort is so desired, so needed. Comfort of home, of peace, of the routines we had all known and not appreciated, of a bed that is imprinted with years of our slumbers. And it is my job to comfort them with lack to all of these? My task has been hard indeed.
I have needed comfort but did not wish to admit it. The Lord knew my heart, and He used a lost and dying man to give me a book, and His Spirit would use it to rekindle my spirit. I so add my request, my thanksgiving, my plea for comfort that only He can give. Give it to us all, Lord, friend and foe. Comfort ye, comfort ye your people. Amen.
James closed the book and slid his pencil into his shirt pocket. He stood to his feet and, tucking the book under his arm, walked toward one of the infirmary tents. The sun was shining on the warm summer afternoon and the cool wind would have been pleasant had it not wafted the scent of both fresh and old blood. A little farther down the road he could hear shouting of a poor soul being treated for his wounds. James shuddered, shook his head violently to avoid gagging from the smell, and ducked into the tent… (Read more)
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The 17th installment of my son’s online fiction series. If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.
It was early that morning in France on July 19. Pvt. Adams played with the bolt of his rifle as he sat in torturous anticipation. The cool night’s dew hung on the blades of grass and wheat around him as they peacefully waited to be graced by the beams of the approaching sunrise. Adams knew they’d be moving out soon. They all knew it. They’d been kept in reserves since they’d gotten to the battle the day before. They’d been woken early and told to be ready. It wouldn’t be long now.
Adams turned with a scowl to see who had broken the sacred silence the soldiers shared before the charge. It was Rivers. Adams groaned as he turned back to fiddling with his rifle. “Whatcha want, Jack?”
“Gotta favor ta ask ya,” Rivers replied, either not recognizing Adams’ agitation or not caring.
“What?” he growled again.
Something plopped in Adams’ lap. He looked down. It was a book, an old one. He put his rifle down and picked it up. “What’s this?”
“Twas Brickman’s,” Rivers answered. “Ya know, that journal he’d always be writin’ in. Prayin’ and stuff like dat.”
“You picked this off his corpse?” Adams asked in shock. “What, you couldn’t let the guy rest with it?”… (Read more)
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The 16th installment of my son’s online fiction series. If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.
May’s sun hat shaded her eyes from the bright summer beams as she walked home from selling bonds. The breeze was crisp and clean, filtered through the trees that lined the dirt roads. The scene felt sadly familiar; it was June 18, a year to the day that Richie had told her he was enlisting. It was the same beautiful weather, the same warm breeze, the same summer scent it had been on that day that seemed forever ago. She breathed in the warmth of the day and sighed. It was a lonely, reminiscent sigh.
She had her bag over her shoulder that she carried most places. In it she carried a few items including the journal the Branson’s had given her, as well as one of the letters she’d received from Richie. This one was the one he had written on her birthday. He told her how he’d been growing closer to God, how he had finally begun to understand what faith on the battlefield was all about. He’d told her how much he missed her, how her face was one of the only things that reminded him that there was still something beautiful in the world.
Though a little late, that letter had been the best birthday present. May missed him so much.
Tired from work, she finally arrived at the Branson’s. It was evening and she knew Mrs. Branson would be diligent in the kitchen preparing dinner for Mr. Branson who was certainly still out in the field. When May walked in the door, however, she was surprised to see them both sitting at the table… (Read more)
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The 15th installment of my son’s online fiction series. If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.
Monday, June 10, 1918
Richie could see the jagged silhouette of the woods straight ahead. It was dark, early morning before the sun had risen, about 0400 hours. They’d left Verdun for a couple weeks now. No more quiet; this was it.
There was no doubt of it, either. His battalion, the 1/6, they’d been lucky so far. They had taken a reserve position while most of the others had been storming the woods to route the Germans back. The Huns had been making an attempt on Paris but were stopped by the AEF, and now the Americans were set to push them back. Them Germans dug up in the woods, dug deep in the trees and rocks with Maxim machine gun nests all over. Shells crashed overhead day and night, shellfire so intense it made Verdun seem silly. Little water and almost no food for days. They said whole platoons had been wiped to only a handful of survivors.
And now it was his turn… (Read more)
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The 14th installment of my son’s online fiction series. If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.
Saturday, April 13, 1918 – Trust
The 74th got hit by gas shells early this morning right where they were sleeping. They’d been pulled back to reserves, too. A few poor souls had a shell land right in their barracks. Heard it wasn’t too bad for the others at first, the boys could hardly smell it and were allowed to take off their masks less than an hour after the shelling. As the day’s gone on, though, more and more pass us on their way to the infirmary, blisters all over and choking. It’s been an awful sight.
“Hey, you, Jack,” a marine Adams addressed Richie. “Where be Rivers? I ‘aven’t seen ‘im.”
“He headed over to the delousing station first thing this morning,” Richie replied.
The features of Adams’ face scrunched together in disgust. “Cooties?”
Adams shivered. “Nasty blood-suckers, them lice. Thanks, Jack, now I’ll be itchin’ all day.”
Richie laughed to himself and turned back to his book. As the thought about what next to write, an artillery gun boomed from across No Man’s Land. He hardly flinched now that he’d heard them a few hundred times. From his experience, cowering didn’t help much if your trench was hit.
Faith is different out here. It’s not the same as it was back home when it was going to church and helping out the neighbors. That doesn’t help much when we’re dealing with shrapnel and gas. I remember the preacher’s sermon once, how our war isn’t “against flesh and blood.” But what about when you’re in a war that is?… (Read more)
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The 13th installment of my son’s online fiction series. If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.
Monday, March 18, 1918
The lead of Richie’s pencil scratched the date onto the journal’s page, the markings becoming less and less visible in the ebbing twilight. He leaned with his back against the clay wall of the trench, his boots standing on the slimy duck boards that had been placed in the mud. His rifle was leaned next to him. Beside him stood Private Rivers and a few other doughboys who had relieved some French soldiers the day before. Those men had looked so exhausted when they arrived. It was not an encouraging welcome.
Richie didn’t bother writing a request next to his date; it was good enough he was even praying at this point. He wasn’t even sure what he had planned to write when he pulled the journal out of his coat. Maybe it had been the boredom, the monotony, or the cramped, stinking quarters of mud and smoke that brought him to write, but he was writing nonetheless…. (Read more)
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The 12th installment of my son’s online fiction series. If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.
The morning of March 15 greeted the Marines with a cold and foggy curtain. Mist and smoke blew out from Richie’s mouth as he flicked the stub of his cigarette onto the ground. A few months ago his body would have been sore from the construction job of the day before, but having done these jobs over and over, the work hardly bothered anymore. His headache from the drinks the night before, however, had already put him in a foul mood.
Rumors were that command decided to give them some real experience and they’d be heading out soon. About time.
The past few months had been cold and tedious. Between combat training, railroad work, or unloading cargo from ships, they’d been kept busy doing everything other than what they had been sent to do: killing Germans. It didn’t help to see the trains come through with wounded French soldiers from the front lines. The veterans used to tell them that when you’re in the 1st line of trenches and all between you and the Hun are parallel rows upon rows of barbed wire and the open, lifeless expanse of “No Man’s Land,” you no longer wish to get out unscathed as that seems a pointless fantasy; you’re hoping to get out as soon as possible, and just praying you don’t leave too much of yourself on the battlefield… (Read more)
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Saturday, November 3, 1917 – Conviction
Richie placed his pencil in the seam of the journal and lifted his eyes to the gray clouds that hovered over the French countryside. It had rained the past few days and looked like it was going to again. The days had been gray, that monotonous dullness of an earth that is undecided between a fall bare of leaves or a winter bare of snow. He missed home in Maine, although it probably looked similar.
Richie rotated his right shoulder, stretching the sore muscle from the long day of training. He had not had to do any trench exercises back in America; he couldn’t say he cared for them much. The French were lively trainers for the now small American Expeditionary Force, as rough as any sergeant he’d had yet. They seemed to fancy charges and bayonets, but he’d take any training he could get. After all, they had been the ones fighting this war for over three years now.
“Hey, Brickman,” a voice called. Richie looked over to see another private holding out a cup to him. “Tea?”
“Sure.” Richie took the cup and nodded a thanks. He had never drunk so much tea in his life. May had always fancied it, but Richie had not ever seen the appeal. The taste was growing on him, though.
Private Richard Brickman, 6th Marines, AEF. We’ve been here in France for a few weeks now. Days are long and they are working us hard. The French are trying to ready us up for the fight. They’re tough, but seem pretty well spent. Can’t say I blame them.
Actually writing in the journal was somewhat surreal. He had been spending the past months reading the entries May and her grandfather had made. Her grandfather was… (Read more)
The Prayer Journal is a fiction blog series written by my son. If you are just joining in, click here to read the previous chapters.
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