Diary of an Unknown Soldier
Illustrated by Kenza Chikh
July 3, 1916 (during the Battle of the Somme)
Pictures. Sounds. Screams. My head is hurting, my eyes are tired. Words, tears, pain, I do not know where we are all going. I am sorry my diary, I know you hate it when I write my dirty words on your pages. You hate to smell the scent of death left by my pen. I hope you understand me, I need to talk tonight and it seems like you are the only one who can hear me right now. I cannot talk about my feelings in my letters, this has to be a secret, no one should know about this. My words are not enough to describe what is happening here. My tears have frozen my face. My lips have been sewn together by sadness. With my cold heart, the only thing I can do is write. I am afraid that the tears will turn me into a stone statue.
I am under my dirty blanket, I am feeling muffled. I do not have the power to cry, I have lost all my energy. I want to scream. It will make a tremendous sound. No one will wake up as we have all gotten used to it. The only thing that impedes me from killing myself is the hope of coming back to real life. I have the picture of my wife, her beautiful skin covered with star dust. I remember how it felt to touch her, to feel her near me. I remember the morning days when I was looking at myself in the mirror and I could see her watching me from behind. I have the feeling that it will soon be over. I will not see her again. I will not kiss her lips again. Can you feel me my love, can you hear the sound of my grief ? I am trying to collect all the memories I have with her. Writing them down, reading them each night. It is the only way to feel her with me. I get angry at myself sometimes because I am not able to remember everything.
It was in May, 1913 Rachel and I took the car very early. The wind was playing with her hair, I could smell it while driving. She was singing and laughing. I wished the road were infinite. We did not plan the day, we decided together it would be an improvisation. After a four-hour drive we parked the car in the middle of nowhere. When we got out of the car, she took my hand and started to look at me carefully. There was something deep inside of her eyes. I could see my reflection. I decided to pull her tighter against me. It lasted for minutes. It was delicious, the feeling of symbiosis. We went walking. She was truly blossoming then we finally decided to spend the night outside, next to the car. In the darkness, our bodies met and started to discuss. It was powerful and warm even though the wind was still blowing.
Diary, I am feeling so empty and incredibly afflicted. I cannot even close my eyes. I woke up three hours ago, the storm was here again, the rain was making its usual sound. I will scream all my grief, this will deform my entire face. Something inside of me is hurting. I have only bad pictures in my head. I cannot get rid of them. Blood flashes through my mind. Screams. Death is trying to take me. The mud has filled my trench and my feet are getting so fat. The bottle is empty. My soul is shattered. Can you hear the sound of grenades? It gives you those feelings that can break your heart into pieces. A lot of soldiers are dead. Tommy is dead. We were fighting outside our trench against the Germans. Everything happened so fast. I was looking at him… he then smiled. His eyes were full of hope. But when he turned back, someone shot him. I did not know what to do. I started to scream louder and louder. I was not able to walk because I was completely destroyed. His eyes, full of hope, vanished in a second. Tommy was a great man. I guess some people are too nice to live on such a planet. We buried his body this morning. Everybody was silent. They took him and wrapped him in a white cloth. When the ground totally covered him I felt as if nature stole something from me. The grass is impregnated with blood, it has this auburn color. It spreads death everywhere.
The conditions of life are atrocious. This is a disaster. Cadavers are everywhere… it is a real mayhem. You can hear the soldiers screaming and crying their souls out all night long. Some of them have been wounded and others are suffering. One of them, John, lost his arm and asked me to kill him. I just closed my eyes and started to cry. I refused after what happened to Tommy. Tommy’s death makes me want to weep. I am feeling so guilty. Why am I alive? There are those rats that bring you the smell of death. The trees have been destroyed by the tanks. There is no grass, only mud and blood. The cadavers lying on the mud are covered with blood. I cannot sleep tonight, the images are going to kill my brain. They are going to blind me. All the men I have killed within a second. They were all like Tommy, they all have vanished now. This is the worst day of my life. So many soldiers died today during the assault. I have been thinking about killing myself twice today. I want to put the gun in my mouth and press the trigger. Rachel. I remember her soul lying on the bed looking at the ceiling of our room. Our kingdom, that we built together.
Haven’t I told you about the sky? Even the sky is feeling bad. It is depressing. The sky is grey and black. I feel like it is doomsday. The sun has not showed up for months. It has been said that it will not end. My face is scrawny, I have aged ten years. I look dead and so do the others. I want to be dead. Grenades can be found everywhere. Many people have been killed by those things. I want to be dead. There is no more hope. I would rather be dead. IS THERE ANYONE WHO CAN HEAR ME ? Is there anyone who can see my pain and the sound of my grief? Is there anyone up, in the sky ? I beg you, if you feel me, help me.
I want it to stop. I want Tommy back and want to see the sky again. I just want to feel alive.
Dead souls are haunting my trench Stolen from their bodies in a violent wrench Sounds of grenades killing the brain A grief that I cannot sing or explain.
Dead souls are dancing in the night Waiting for the dark knight To drive them far away, From a place where no one can run away.
Remember Remember A heart made of embers A body suffering inside Thinking of the beautiful bride.