The Dairy of an Intimate Stranger registers an entry dated 17.03.17.
The story begins at the end. The day I die. It is March. That much, I remember. The year, 1917. And the war drags on. I am in a trench, somewhere. Maybe France. Maybe Belgium. They call it Passchendale. I call it hell.
It is cold and the sky, blue. Petticoat blue. I have been lying in the mud for sometime, starring up towards the eternal sky. Could it be a Wednesday? I think to myself. Does it even matter?. I’m dying now. I can’t feel my body, anymore. I live with my final thoughts. I treasure them. They will never come back. Where will my memories go, tomorrow, when I am found, and hauled onto some horse-drawn cart to be indexed, filed and buried ?. I was struck down - you see-by a bullet. I saw it coming. It was slow motion. I heard the crackle of the gunners, at close range in the St Jeanne forest and then, I snapped, like a twig. I fell on my back and there, face up in the mud, I remained until the end.
It was strange to die, but I saw it coming. It was the first Wednesday of the month, that’s right, as I treated myself to some sausages down with the tommy's in the trench. The fighting men, called me ‘Dickie’, but my christian name is Richard. So you may call me Richard.
And then it all happened in a flash. I grabbed by rifle and starred at the mud wall and the mud caked ladders. It was time to go. Go ‘over the top’. The final sacrifice. Today was my day, to die. A soldier of the British Expeditionary Force tag number 557893. I don’t remember when I was born, but I remember the day I died. It was a beautiful day.
Then the blast of a whistle and ‘ over the top’ screamed the Sargeant and over the top we went. I rose out of my darkness and stormed the wall of the trench.
I saw a forest. I ran towards it. There were birds, strange black birds, flying overhead. Crows, maybe. Larks. I began to run, but my boots dragged me down, to the ground. The mud was deep. Everywhere I could see them fall. One by one, we all began to fall. And then it hit me. There was a burst of light in my head. I lost control. I was shot. Near the heart, I believe. I never actually saw the wound. But I bled. It took me a lifetime to hit the ground, and then it all came back to me. Everything. Everything I had ever thought, I began to think again. Here. Every dream, I ever dreamed, I was dreaming again. They were my dreams. The nightmare over. This was my end.
And then, as I looked up towards the sky, I saw that it was blue.
The cold morning air crept over my face and I thought of her one last time.