Author's note: This was originally written for a year nine english assesement, all that was required was to... Show full author's note »
1“Most of us have far more courage than we ever dreamed we possessed.” –Dale Carnegie
“Courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” –Nelson Mandela
I rested my head against the sloping wall of the trench, clumps of damp earth crumbling into my hair and half-open mouth. I clenched my eyes shut and squirmed, but didn’t move, preferring to release the shaky rattle of my breath and the stinging tears into the dirt rather than face my comrades with the shameful truth of my fear.
Fear. It was, to me, just the same as all the other appalling diseases one could expect to find in the trenches. It would fill my mind, smother my thoughts and creep away inside of me with complete control. It was constant, dimming only to a soft throb of anxiety or nervousness if I was lucky. But at night, at night it would awake within me, perhaps stretching out its cold claws to playfully squeeze the breath out of my lungs or tear the optimism from my heart. Then I would be left in the still, stifling heat and darkness of the dug-out trying to hide my sobs of despair within the scratchy confinement of the bed covers.
But I knew then that I was even more terrified than I had ever been in the night, for I knew there would be no morning to save me. No gentle rays of dappled sunlight fighting through the gaps beneath the Dug-out door to drag me from my restless slumber and bring me into the day. The days were certainly not perfect, filled with mind-numbing chores and anticipation of attack, but day brought a brew-up with Davey and Bill by the cheerful crackling of the stove, and it brought company. ‘This day will be different’ I thought grimly, burrowing my fingers further into the thick dirt, feeling the liquid mud bubble between my fingers. And I sighed, and leant back. I was still trembling, my knuckles white and bloodless as I tried to grip my bayonet with purpose and confidence. I failed.