Cigarettes and Lifeless Eyes

Cigarettes and Lifeless Eyes

Ted ducks.
‘That one was close,’ shouts his mate, Billy.
‘Chuck us a ciggie, Ted,’ calls Ernie.
Ted looks up, bullets are still flying over them, a grenade hits somewhere close by, he pulls out his cigarettes, lights one for himself, throws one over to Ernie.
A young private runs past them, shouting,
‘His head’s gone! His head’s gone!’
No one bats an eyelid.
Another rolls around on the ground, moaning,
‘Dench, see to him,’ calls Ted.
The soldier’s holding his leg, or at least what’s left of it. He sits in a pool of blood, it’s hard to tell if it’s all his own or not, it’s everywhere.
Pte Dench attempts to stem the bleeding, it’s hopeless. The moaning stops, the soldier’s eyes are still open. Dench puts his head in his hands and sobs.
The young private runs past again, still shouting.
Ted steps on a hand, he grabs it to help up its owner. There is no owner. He drops the hand.
The grenades are getting closer, louder, more frequent.
‘Billy!’ he calls. ‘We need to move, where are all the officers?’
No response.
‘Ernie? Billy?’
Ted looks around him, Ernie is on the ground, sitting propped against sandbags, his cigarette still burning, just hanging from his bottom lip, his eyes wide and lifeless.
The private runs by again, Ted scrutinises him, he’s a boy of no more than fifteen.
‘His head’s gone! His head’s gone!’ he’s screaming it now. He stumbles over Billy’s body, scrambles to his feet, still screaming.
Ted grabs him, covers his mouth,
‘You’ll get us both killed! Shut up, shut up!’ he shakes him, looks into his eyes, but they don’t see him, he lets the boy go, drops to his haunches.
Voices… with German accents!
Ted thinks quickly and pulls over himself the bodies of his colleagues, he hears quiet sobs coming from somewhere.
The voices get louder, a single gunshot rings out and the boy’s screaming ceases.
I should have kept hold of him… I should have made him shut up… he was just a kid, just a kid.
A burst of gunshots then the voices are directly above. He hears footsteps coming down the ladder.
The voice is gentle.
A woman’s voice… what in the hell?
‘Mr Norton?’
What’s going on?
‘I’ve found him!’ she calls out.
A small hand reaches out, he takes it and emerges from beneath the table, the woman in white helps him to his stockinged feet.
‘Come on, Mr Norton, let’s get you back to your bed.’
Slowly, she guides him through the day room.
A porter sits at his desk, chewing gum and listening to a portable wireless. Glam rock, the youngsters call it.
Ted can still hear someone crying.
‘Oh, please don’t upset yourself, Mr Norton. Here.’
She hands him a tissue.
He realises, wipes his eyes and blows his nose.
‘Were you back in France again, Mr Norton? In the trenches?’ she rubs his arm.
‘My dear,’ he replies. ‘I don’t think I ever left.’

About the author

1582 Up Votes
I'm a mother of four fantastic children (three grown up now) I took up writing again as I became disabled after a paralysing illness and needed a focus. I like to draw and paint to keep my hands busy and moving, and writing keeps my brain cells stretched, keeping the old cogs working. Of course it also keeps me out of mischief. Much love Cate

More from Catehayes

Just a Little Virus
Just a Little Virus It’s just a little virus What harm can it do? It’s a bit worse...
Read More
A Poppy’s Whisper
A Poppy’s Whisper A token to remember The sacrifices great Of those who laid their lives...
Read More
A Mother’s Last Dawn
I thought it a fitting time to submit this poem again with it being the 100th anniversary of the...
Read More
White Christmas
A seasonal poem with a little twist. White Christmas They said it wouldn’t happen this...
Read More
If you enjoyed reading this, show your appreciation to the author with a thumbs up! 9

Catehayes would love your feedback, please leave your comments below:

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password
Thanks for voting!
A very poignant short story... thank you for sharing 🙂

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!

Showcase your literature

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password
Click here to visit the showcase home page