World War I: Two Deaths

A letter, neatly typed, with government postage. “You are hereby called to serve your country.” He marries quickly, promising to return, alive.

The trenches are wet and feces-filled. Ready-made graves. The wounded moan, their wounds festering. Rats lap at the seeping rot. The air sits still and cold, clinging to a soldier’s soul. Then, a milky mist of smothering.

“Mustard gas…”

A letter, neatly typed, with government postage. “We offer our deepest condolences.”

She crumples the letter and cocks the hammer. The casing falls to the tiled floor and bounces twice, the metal clinking as it rolls to the door.

Paul Rousseau is published in sundry literary and medical journals, including The Centifictionist. A lover of dogs, he lives in Charleston, SC, and longs to return home to the west. Twitter: @ScribbledCoffee.