The Trench Rat | Teen Ink

The Trench Rat

January 2, 2013
By writergirl15636 GOLD, Scarsdale, New York
writergirl15636 GOLD, Scarsdale, New York
11 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"All the worlds a stage. Men and women merely actors" (Shakespeare).

Dear Mother and Father,

17 December 1916

You may not expect the question I’m about to ask, but I am so bored in these trenches that I am dying for any form of news. How are our grandparents? How’s the town? How is anything? Please send me some news. I would greatly appreciate it. It would cause some relief from these sandy walls encasing me forever. I feel as though I’ll never escape these wet sand walls, known as the trenches built in great extents I feel as though I am a mole with a rifle. It’s that new gun they issued us; it looks as though it is from one of those sci-fi books we hungrily read.

On the topic of moles, these rats are eating our food supply to non-existent. They are not only eating our food, but our cut body parts as well. It’s an endless cycle: the more we stay in these trenches, the easier it becomes for trench foot to spread—our un-drying moldy feet that must be amputated for our health—which these rats eat, making them bigger and harder to kill. As I am writing this letter to you, I feel a fat one sprint over my feet; it’s a comforting thought though. That here in my dugout, or room that I share with four other men that we can not hide or cover ourselves enough to escape these discomforts. You don’t have to feel scampering feet, or here the hungry chewing to know they’re there, you can smell them from a mile away. It’s as though they are cooked mold with the ability to walk.

I only now have time to write you since the bombing that has lasted for months has finally seized, maybe it’s because the holiday is coming up. A huge bursting impact of gunpowder moving the dirt to different locations, that is what a bomb is. Something no one should experience, something that way too many people are. However, I hope you guys get everything you want for the holidays.
Did you ever expect your child to be a soldier, an obedient protector for the country? I guess you would have seen me holding books or speaking to potential customers instead of staring at the useless hooks attached to wire overlapping huge sticks spitting up at the sky from its nestled home of piled sandbags, known as barbed wire. These wires are horrific, no protection from these modern day fights, no help from the flying sword. We look as though we are barbarous, not knowing how to fight or defend ourselves in these days. We only get those rare visitors from No Man’s Land, empty deluded space between them and us. The German villains think they are brave enough; think they are smart enough, try to run through the gunpowder polluted covered land to our barbed wire fence, and trap themselves.
It is gruesome so see their lifeless bodies hanging without information, without a reason, without death from God’s will. No disease is what kills them, no hunger diminishes them, just torture of being ostracized by the same age group and gender but different origin. These hanging enemies not only bring equipment like machine guns or gas masks, but lice as well. We see the guns and gas masks as welcome presents from the other side; the machine guns boost our offensives from the barbarous barbed wire to the science mad heroine in the sci-fi novels. We can kill and kill and kill, non-stopping and greatly detrimental to the other side from these machines. The masks are seen as momentary lapses of peace, protection for their land neighbors, although there is the paradox that they are the ones setting gas bombs. They are the worst things in the world. You can’t hide from the stench, or the lasting fog, or even the deadly chemical mix of the fog. I thought fog was supposed to be relaxing, soft and friendly, but this is the most evil fog I have ever seen. Chocking the land, the guns, the beds, the rats, and the men. You can’t hide if you are unprotected; one whiff is a call to the grave. These gas masks are like God’s angels, they protect us from early demise.

These decaying men have one thing on them that won’ die: lice, the thieves of un-itching skin. They wash our uniforms constantly, bathe our hair-infested skin, however redressed and dirty again the itching remains. They are more friendly and consistent then the social talk of the boys around me. Our own friends are not one another; we are too consumed by our selfless misery that we consult the flies that bite out our rations of food, the small portions they can afford for the day. As long as the food is getting some use, is so stale that not even my starving friends and myself can stomach it enough to swallow all that is served on our plate.

If you guys are not too busy I would truly appreciate some socks, actually more then some. I would love have quite a bit. Maybe to last me awhile. The mud carpeting our homes soaks into socks our shoes our feet our every body part. You can practically hear the slush of mud as we walk; it’s the repeating sound of how hopeless seeing home again is. I am petrified I will never return to our small abundance, where there is no awful food, horrendous sight, or terrible living conditions.


Your Child

Caitlin S.

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This article has 2 comments.

on Jul. 31 2014 at 1:41 pm
writergirl15636 GOLD, Scarsdale, New York
11 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"All the worlds a stage. Men and women merely actors" (Shakespeare).

Thank You!

Eloise said...
on Jun. 25 2014 at 6:03 pm
Wow keep up the good work! You really captured the horrors of being a soldier in the midst of trench warfare. It's scary imagining being one of them! Not just the rats and lice, but being so mentally tired from the constant fighting. Hope to see more from you!