Survival. It is the difference between life and death. How do we survive when all we once feared distorts into reality? How do we survive when we must fight to the end; when we must fight to death?
We only had three seconds…three seconds until we greeted our death with loving arms. Three seconds until the door to the amphibious landing craft opened, and destruction exploded on us.
Nervousness hung in the air, and the feeling we were about to meet our impending doom loomed above – a feeling I could not shake off. My mate’s vile vomit coated his crisp, clean, new uniform -he was incredibly fraught. We all were.
The solemn skies above were painted a charcoal grey; tufts of black cotton balls stained the picture - threatening to attack. Mist slithered its way around our boat, like a snake strangling its victim, causing us to travel in oblivion. Suddenly, Omaha Beach’s debris-filled sands came into view. I was drowning in nausea, but I needed to stay strong; for my team and for my country.
Revolting atrocities lovingly received me on the shores of Omaha Beach. I took a deep breath and inhaled the stench of obliteration.
Destruction. Demolition. Decay. A plethora of moldering carcasses spotted the havoc-filled ground. Clumps of blood and frayed bone were strewn around. It was a symphony of annihilation – a cacophony of bloodcurdling screeches and ear piercing screams. The strident, deranged choirs of wailing shells resonated around me. Guns squatted in an orderly row; smirking at the pandemonium they had caused. My eyes peered down apprehensively, and a scarlet sticky syrup engulfed my trembling body; sneaking its way past my quivering lips and into my mouth. Metal. It was everywhere; it coated my tongue like a baby wrapped in a blanket. I could taste it in every breath I took, every gulp I swallowed. Cocooned in dripping crimson mouths, I was hypnotized under their pain-filled trance, screaming in agony. All we needed was safety. All I needed was home.
BOOM! Several explosions erupted into a shower of blinding sparks that rained down upon the chaos. Many boldly chose to risk their future and march forward into the fight and into their inevitable fate. Their eyeballs cracked like hot stones whilst their skin was scathed to the bone in a morass of obliteration. I inhaled the stench of their pain, and wept for the loss of their innocence and naivety. One by one, soldiers buckled around me like puppets dancing on a string- my mates, my friends, my family.
A shrill shriek captured my ears. It was familiar…too familiar. My heart lurched and I dived to help him, but it was too late. Red blurred my vision. His muddy-brown uniform, now, engulfed in blood. His eyes, that were once caramel coffee drops, are now scalding coal sockets. The remains of his face still resembled mine. I lamented at the loss of my dear brother. Grief plagued my soul, tearing my heart into shards of sorrow. I contemplated laying there, him by my side – we could die together. But I had to fight on. I had to honour him.
Survival. It is when you stare at Death straight in the eye; and defeat it. Today; I cowered beneath Death’s glare, got dragged into a pit of sorrow and woe by Grief but Courage picked me back up. I conquered Death. I survived.