School: Beeslack Community High School, Midlothian
I wake up, and all that my mind processes is pain. I can’t remember anything: how I got here, what happened, who, where, why. My whole body hurts, and I can feel the blood pulsing behind my temples. I’m dizzy.
My stomach heaves, and I’m being sick in a well-placed bowl. The acid burns my throat, and, for a second, I can’t breathe. I slump back on the bed. I groan.
My mind races; I have to get out of here, I think. But I can’t. There are tubes and wires connected to me, and when I try to move, I’m sick in the bowl again. I hurt… everywhere. There’s not a part of my body that doesn’t cry out in pain if I so much as sigh. How did this happen?
A nurse replaces the bowl beside my bed, and my blurry vision takes in the fact that she’s cute. If I was fine, I’d crack a joke and smile at her. But I’m not fine. I don’t know why I’m here, but the one thing I do know is that I. Am. Not. Fine. What’s happened to me?
The nurse smiles sympathetically and leaves. Leaves me. Alone. In here. Where am I? In a hospital, of course - but why?
I struggle under the heavy blanket and try to kick it off, but my leg is in a sling. I look at it; it’s shorter than I remember - too short. And… where’s my foot?
Then I remember. I can hear bombing, shooting, shouting. I can see men in khaki uniforms with guns. I can see bodies scattered on the dry ground.
A deafening explosion. Heat - so much heat. And pain. And blood. So much pain and blood. And it’s not all mine.
I remember this. I remember it all. I wish I couldn’t. No! Why? They were my friends! Why did they leave me? Alone? Why didn’t I go with them? To… heaven? Hell? Nowhere?
I’m mad. Mad because they left me. Mad because I left them. Mad because… because… because…
And then I’m just sad. Furiously sad. Sad because they were my best friends - my brothers. Sad because they deserved so much more. Sad because I never got to say goodbye.
I remember. I remember them laughing, joking, messing around. I remember their proud faces - our proud faces; we were going to Iraq! We were representing the British Army! We were fighting for freedom- heck, we were freedom fighters!
I can’t remember them ever being cowards - because they weren’t. They were brave, noble young warriors who died for the freedom of others. They were saviours. True soldiers.
I remember, and I smile, knowing that they wouldn’t want me to hurt more than I already do.
And then I’m sick again.
I remember, and I drop my head in my hands and cry, knowing that, no matter what, they’re gone. And no matter how much they might wish otherwise, I can’t.