Chapters of life, p.1
Chapters of Life, p.1Laura Lane
Chapters of Life
By Laura Lane
Copyright 2011 Laura Lane
Dedicated to :
Bertrand, Andre, Ghyslin, and Gaetan
For their years of patience and encouragement.
Also I would like to thank :
John D. Shank, editor of the print magazine “Military”
for giving me my first break as an Author. I am forever grateful.
And to you, the Reader.
It warms my heart that you have chosen to read this Anthology
There is nothing that hurts a writer more than a story languishing in a file cabinet, unread.
Chapters of Life
I was only a boy during the invasion of Normandy. Afraid. We were all afraid. The Germans were everywhere. The streets of our village were deserted, everyone hiding in their houses. We prayed lots, my mother and I. Prayed for my father. We knew not if he was alive. We prayed that we would not be next for inspection. If the Germans found anything they didn’t like—if they suspected you were hiding a Jew or working against them—they would burn your house and sometimes even kill you. It had happened already. But I was young and very restless, and sometimes when my mother was occupied, I would sneak out of the house just to see what was happening.
One day there seemed to be a lot of activity. Tanks were constantly going by, as well as large covered trucks. I wondered if that meant that the allies were coming to save us. I asked my mother what is all meant and I was sorry that I had. She became very worried and wrung her hands around her apron and warned me sternly not to leave the house. She kept me occupied and herself as well, cleaning house throughout the day. But after a supper of meager meat and potato peels, she fell asleep in her chair while she was reading.
I saw my chance and scuttled out the door and headed toward the beach. I could hear the sounds of shouts and engines carried by the coastal wind. As I reached the cliff, I got down on my hands and knees and crawled in the high dry grass until I could peer over the edge. Below on the beach and into the water as the tide was coming in, were Germans placing tall as a man wooden spikes all along the tidal zone, as far down the beach as I could see. I had no idea of what they hoped to accomplish. They couldn’t possibly be building fish traps. I watched them for the longest time, until exhaustion drew a veil over my eyes and I slept in spite of the chill in the June air.
It was shouting, the sound of motors, and gunshot that awoke me in the early dawn. What I saw, horrified me beyond my worst nightmares. Large ships loomed on the horizon. But coming into the shore with the waves and tide, were numerous skiffs. I learned later that they were the allies, coming to save us. But what I saw was a slaughter. Men jumping from the boats to come ashore, were impaled on the sticks the Germans had planted the night before. If they didn’t dive on the spikes themselves, the breaking waves flung them to their deaths. And the Germans were on shore, firing. Of the 130,000 allies that landed that day, there were 9,000 casualties. I couldn’t watch anymore. I backed away crying, blinded by my tears, and ran home.
My mother was waiting for me when I came through the door. Before I could excuse myself, she strapped me with my father’s belt, screaming at me that I was an ungrateful child. When her anger diffused, she gathered me in her arms and begged my forgiveness. I buried my head in her neck and it was a long time before I was able to tell her what I had seen. Then we got down on our knees and prayed.
Note: First North American Rights were originally purchased by Military magazine to appear in the June 2004 issue, but its publication was killed in favor of another essay I wrote entitled “Lest We Forget”.
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