Atheist In A Foxhole

They say I’m not supposed to be here. But I was a true believer before. God, king and country. That’s why I signed up. It was in this damp trench that I lost my faith. My boot got stuck in the mud, maybe with my faith stuck to the heel. I pulled the boot lose for some reason. Possibly so I can die with my boots on. I don’t believe in God, but I know there’s a Hell. I’m living I it. Two weeks in this trench. The smell is unbearable, and the waiting is terrifying. I don’t talk much with my colleagues. We’re all aware what happens next. Nothing more to say. We got here too late and missed the previous wave. The bodies are strewn in the open field in front of us. We’ll be joining them in a day or two. My Christian compatriots pray a lot, but they look scared. Very scared. They don’t look like people who are confident that they’ll soon be in the loving embrace of their Lord. But it’s impossible to know what’s in other people’s hearts. I’ll never get married or see my sweetheart again. I won’t have children to carry on. I’ll just disappear. When we get up and race across this No Man’s Land, I’ll do it with my eyes wide open. I’ll be the most alive I’ve ever been. I won’t be fantasizing about my Great Protector. But even though I know the end is the end, it’s better than another day in the trenches. Standing in water until your feet are deformed. Putrefying bodies of dead buddies. Rats. Terrifying artillery barrages during the day. Tense nights when an enemy patrol or raid delivers death. Yeah, death is preferable to this. I don’t know why I haven’t gone mad like so many others. Maybe my head is screwed on straight. I find myself unable to lose myself in fantasy. This morning’s step-to was surely my last. Looked out ahead, between sandbags, trying to spot the enemy. Couldn’t see them. They were probably looking at us. But they’ve got more patient commanders. Tonight, they’ll mow us down with machine guns while we run straight into them. The “winner” will take another few yards of this shitty useless land. They’ll get to spend more time in the trenches, sometimes getting stuck in the muck and disappearing underneath. I’ll die above ground, thank you. If anyone finds this note, please, please don’t let them put a cross above my grave.