Chapters 6 & 7: Two Conditions of War

A Letter from Paul

Dear Jake,

I know it's been a while since we talked but it's been crazy out here. I’ve seen so many people die horrible deaths to the awful and deadly french artillery. Friends I’ve had for years have died and sometimes you don't even know they’ve died because sometimes people go missing to find food or materials to improve our trenches so that's what you assume when you don't see your buddy for a couple days. You couldn't even imagine the food we get out here, it's horrid. The food is definitely past its date by six years at least. If you're lucky you’ll get a slice of bread and maybe if you're insanely lucky some sausage. But out of everyone on this battlefield I have it best, some guys suffer minor injuries and die because their body doesn’t have enough energy to keep fighting, so it just gives up. 

    I bet you’ve seen in the paper, the prisoners we are holding behind our line, it's true and it’s gotten to a point where there are so many of them people are pressed up against the fences of the base. You know how I said I have it best out of everyone, these people were great soldiers and now they are being held here begging for food and trading everything they own for at a maximum of two slices of bread and some blood sausage. These men are scraping the surface between death and life. These men are starving and some even are trying to die quicker to escape the horrors of this horrible war. Some still have a sliver of hope that the war will end before we run out of food to give them. But that point is near and the war is nowhere close to done, at least I think so. 

    Even though we are similar in age I’m considered one of the older soldiers and so would you but outside the war I still have so much longer to live. Out here I might have five years left or five seconds you never know what is going through those French minds. Outside the war still feels like I’m at war but with myself. When I qualified for leave time, going home felt off. I would walk around town and feel like I was a sitting duck for an artillery shell or better yet a sniper. Everytime I heard a car horn I would flinch and duck my head to protect myself but it was just a car. I’m starting to think that this war is having an effect on me. Everytime I walk in an open area whether it be at home out of the way of danger or out here behind our lines. This isn’t a way to live my life so I'm trying to get a job as a guard so I don't have to go back to the front lines. But watching over the prisoners while they are starving and dying knowing you can't do anything is almost as bad so I’ll see what happens and I’ll write you a letter about what job I get very soon. 

    Alright, I just wanted to catch up and hopefully I’ll be able to write to you again. If i don't write to you by the Fourth of May, assume that I was busy. I will make it out of this war alive and I’ll see you soon. 



Your friend, Paul


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