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Another Silent Night

Could it ever be again

By JBazPublished 6 months ago Updated 6 months ago 5 min read
Top Story - December 2023

I want to make it home this year, knowing the chances are slim to none, but one can try.

Instead of fighting traffic and battling crowds trying to buy last minute gifts. I am fighting to stay alive and battling against others who are doing their best to make sure I never see home again. Such is the life of a pawn, in this game of political ambition and foolish pride.

Leaning against the frozen ground I huddle in the trench that has become my new place of residence. Slushy water seeps into our boots and clothing. Sucking what little warmth, we have left in us. Haunting dead eyes from the living stare back at me, few words are spoken as we robotically go about our day. The lines between surreal and reality blur into a meaningless existence. We search for anything positive around us, desperately trying to hang onto what little humanity we have lingering within our soul. Distant memories, and stories we tell ourselves work, but those too are fading into the fog of history.

One of our comrades found a discarded doll, he cleaned it up and cares for it like it is his child. How messed up is that?

We are ordinary people, forced into a bad situation.

I breathe in the smells of rich turned soil, blood, and the lingering odour of fear. The last of the sun’s rays fade into dusk, on the far horizon the rising moon glows like a beacon of hope. One by one, stars peek through the nighttime mist, giving us the courage to fight through the emotional darkness in our mind. Insecurities weave through our thoughts, like shadows lurking under childhood beds.

The heavenly lights from faraway suns, warms what little kindness we have remaining in our hearts. I wrap the blackness of night around me like a blanket, praying it gives me the strength I need to survive one more day, and the next and the next, until I will be allowed to leave this man-made purgatory.

Drifting back to happier times, I remember closing my eyes while listening to distant carolers singing outside our home. Now, I listen for the soft deadly footsteps of those trying to close our eyes forever. It is the eerie sound of silence at night that is the worst, I lay waiting and wondering when I shall be woken once more into this living hell.

There are times where I convince myself that to resolve this mess, all we need to do is talk to each other, soldier to soldier.

There was a story I read once. About another war, where on a crisp night under a full moon two armies faced each other. On Christmas eve back in nineteen fourteen a calm appeared, giving both sides time to reflect on the futility of their actions and madness. A temporary truce of sorts took place. In battered trenches, candlelight glowed, lighting the evening mist, voices could be heard from both sides, a realization at how close they were to one another. With an angels voice, a melody floated in the air, although the words were different, both sides knew the song. What started as a lone voice soon became a choir sung from friend and foe alike. One by one soldiers converged from both sides to join in and share a kindness once more. A simple truth, as the words of ‘Silent night ‘floated up and rose to the skies. A reminder that they were all the same, with hopes and dreams of their own, which did not include the madness of war. These same men that not long ago would have waved and smiled at each other, now raise weapons, and toss hand grenades instead.

For a moment they were themselves, the person their parents brought them up to become, the role model they wish their children to see. Individuals who love and wish to be loved.

Not these forced enemies created due to perverted politicians and troubled times.

Staring into the darkness, I wonder could we ever do that again or are those days of honor and respect gone forever. Can we set aside our differences and for one moment live as brothers? Would I be able to forgive so easily? In today’s war, would that person be greeted by a chorus of voices joining in, or a sniper’s bullet instead?

More than a hundred years later have we learned nothing?

I gaze upon the small makeshift Christmas tree we dragged into our hole. Nothing more than a shattered tree branch, decorated with a string of bullet shells, empty food tins and draped with first aid gauze. But it brings with it a little bit of home, a warmth we all crave.

In the distance, there is the sound of bells ringing out, for once no other noise disturbs the night. It dawns on me, tonight is Christmas eve, until this very moment I hadn’t realized it was upon us. My mind drifts to my children, my wife. I will not be there; I will not hear their laughter and giggles. There will be no embrace for me.

Looking to the darkened sky, grey blue clouds roll across a starlit backdrop. A cool dampness lands upon my cheek, I watch as flakes of white drift silently across the barren field, cleansing the filth we created.

Suddenly I feel a warmth within my soul, a calmness envelope my body. My comrade’s eyes grow wide with horror and fear as they watch me set my rifle in the mud and stand.

Smiling, I raise my voice to the heavens and begin to sing.

Thank you,

Jason

Rumour of a lone soldier in WWI, singing silent night suggest the truce began with this carol coming from the trenches. I chose to create a story that takes place nearly 110 years later.

In the early months of World War I, on Christmas Eve, men on both sides of the trenches laid down their arms and joined in a spontaneous celebration. Despite orders to continue shooting, the unofficial truce spread across the front lines. Even the participants found what they were doing incredible: Germans placed candlelit Christmas trees on trench parapets, warring soldiers sang carols, and men on both sides shared food parcels from home. They climbed from the trenches to meet in "No Man's Land" where they buried the dead, exchanged gifts, ate, and drank together, and even played soccer.

A narrative by Stanley Weintraub

Main photo by the New Yorker

fact or fictionarmy

About the Creator

JBaz

I have enjoyed writing for most of my life, never professionally.

I wish to now share my stories with others, lets see where it goes.

Born and raised on the Canadian Prairies, I currently reside on the West Coast. I call both places home.

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Comments (26)

  • Jack Wayne Arnett26 days ago

    Great story!

  • Wonderful words really thought this was great

  • Ashley Shiflett4 months ago

    Wow! What a beautiful story! ❤️

  • You really bring this story to life, Jason. It really gets you thinking. This line is so true: "forced enemies created due to perverted politicians and troubled times." Politicians and media stoke the fires of rage for personal gain, but we all pay a steep price.

  • John Cox5 months ago

    Written as if you have stood in a foxhole as it filled with water. Having experienced that myself, I'm deeply impressed with your evocation of the experience. Your ability to bring the experience, tedium and terror of the battlefield is impressive as well.

  • L.C. Schäfer6 months ago

    Is this Bellau Wood 🤔 it's beautiful, a real hope for humanity kind of story 😀

  • What an article! I don't want to think how do you feel in the front line..Life is very precious and some times becomes too scary.

  • Babs Iverson6 months ago

    Magnificent!!! Love it!!!❤️❤️💕 Congratulations on Top Story!!!

  • Test6 months ago

    JBaz this is just so poignant and beautiful. I was captivated the whole way through. Mark Gagnon and I did a very similar piece on this story a while ago but wow yours hits hard! This line, "These same men that not long ago would have waved and smiled at each other, now raise weapons, and toss hand grenades instead." reminded me so much of Hardy's poem, "The man he killed" Beautifully done as always and I love the first person perspective 🤍

  • Carol Townend6 months ago

    Well written and very emotional. We must remember that we are lucky to be celebrating the cheer of Christmas when thousands won't even be able to begin to understand the meaning of Christmas, or a Christmas tree today. I

  • Lamar Wiggins6 months ago

    This was very thoughtful, my friend. Stories like this remind me that I haven't come close to knowing about all the struggles throughout history that only exists in books. People were actually there and actually lived the words that you wrote. Never take anything for granted everyone. This story is a testament to that! Well done!!!

  • Yayyyyy I'm back to say congratulations for your Top Story!

  • Donna Fox (HKB)6 months ago

    Jason, I love that this heartfelt story was inspired by this letter!! I feel like I also heard about/ read this letter before but I love the direction you went with it! Very touching and so well thought out! Congrats on Top Story!

  • Kristen Balyeat6 months ago

    Wow. Just…speechless. Once again you’ve manage to bring me to tears, and endless goosebumps too! I was prepared for the tears this time. I’ve learned. What a gorgeous and important message in this beautifully written and immersive piece. Amazing work, Jason! 💫💞

  • Oneg In The Arctic6 months ago

    This was told so delicately and beautiful. This like really struck “We are ordinary people, forced into a bad situation.” Great work

  • Cathy holmes6 months ago

    Such a beautiful story. Congrats on the well deserved TS.

  • Melissa Ingoldsby6 months ago

    Wow. Just wow. Your elegant and vivid style with the highly realistic descriptions were utterly stunning 🤩 great work!! You deserve your top story and more!👏👏👏💓

  • Kendall Defoe 6 months ago

    I know of that WWI story, but this could be any soldier in any war, longing to go home... Top Story, indeed!

  • Judey Kalchik 6 months ago

    Congratulations on a well deserved Top Story!

  • This made me so emotional 😭 We're all humans. Why can't we live in peace 😭😭

  • Hannah Moore6 months ago

    Ah, that story....I hope so much ot would be this way.

  • Mark Gagnon6 months ago

    Every male generation of my family, and now my youngest daughter, has served since WW1. Your pawn analogy was right on. When Celia and I wrote about that Christmas event it generated deep feelings in me as your story does now. I hope you receive a TS for it.

  • Jay LeTron Dobbins6 months ago

    Good Article! I served, but never at a time of war!

  • Mariann Carroll6 months ago

    Another excellent creation of yours 😊

JBazWritten by JBaz

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