Sometimes I wondered why I bothered. I knew my chances were not good. The longer I stayed alive; those odds on me surviving to the end grew shorter with each passing moment. Those days, though, it was often the new recruits, the replacements, who were the unlucky ones. Those of us who lasted longest developed a certain knowledge. We developed an ability to find ways of surviving. Some of us could survive the random arbitrariness of the stray shell or the lucky sniper. We learnt how to walk, how to look, how to listen. We may have been only a split-second quicker in ducking, finding cover or hitting the dirt… but that was usually enough.
At least I’d thought so.
That was until this morning, when I looked around those of us gathered in the lee of a small rise just outside the next village. Someone had found coffee back in the last farmhouse, under the body of an enemy soldier. I’d noticed – from what remained of that soldier – he was little more than a boy. They’d obviously sent him to get the coffee while the men tried to hold us off.
Then, I looked around at the men from my own side. I realised I was the oldest, the longest-serving, there. They were all boys too, some even younger than the dead coffee maker.
It was then I began to wonder just how much longer I could survive; especially now this war is almost over.
I know now my chances of surviving to the end of it are almost nil.