My yet, hoping you are the same. Just

My dear Sister, I’m alright, not quite dead yet, hoping you are the same. Just a few lines to answer your questions about my nightmarish circumstances. You have always been so curious. I expect you are wondering why I have not answered your correspondence in quite some time. It is awfully difficult to do so. Do not think I have not contemplated ignoring you completely. However, just as before the war began, Mother wrote me saying I should review and adjust my attitude. Or she would visit to scold me herself. I believed her, which offered me perspective. Life here in the trenches might just be less fearful than our incensed Mother.What I assume to be an hour ago, the heavens were beating down us and our blasted landscape. Practically washed any trace of us away. I have discovered rainfall seems much colder when you have no clothes for a change. To tell you the truth, I am drenched through to my skin. The water had risen to our knees. Many in my platoon will soon suffer from the numbness in their toes. The skin turns an odd blue coloring. Some are forced to cut their feet off. Then they are permitted to return home. If I turn desperate, I will take this into consideration. I have seen terrible things, Annie. Far worse than you see in the papers. My bones are shaking, so my god-awful penmanship is due to that. I must say, it remains still superior to yours.In present time, I am supposed to be resting. After the rain always comes the flies, eating us up. The pesky things reminded me of my need to write to you, Sister. If I am being forthright, I have not gotten a decent night’s sleep in weeks. Months, even. Soldiers are only supposed to sleep for an hour at a time, in the afternoon or at night. Except the officials forget we find those rulings difficult. When the man you have been fighting beside could die without your help. Wherever you are, there is always the threat of death under shell fire. So it’s not much rest, after all. I am surprised I have lasted this long. When you are running on pure adrenaline, though, you tend not to collapse.But I digress. You wanted to learn of my daily routine. I hope I do not bore you with this, Annie. I remember your tendency to speak over me once you run out of patience. Perhaps in the months I have been gone, you have grown. As your older brother, doubt concerning the fact harbours in me. We wake at dawn. It is the very best time for enemy attacks. We are on high alert. During our morning, we have our breakfast, the daily ration of bacon and nearly frozen tea. Then we clean ourselves the best we can. Tidy our muddy trench, too, avoiding the snipers on the lookout. In between this, we are invited to enjoy leisure activities. We get dinner at noon. After is rest time. If you are not resting, you are doing chores. Frozen tea is provided once again at early evening. On high alert for another time. When night comes, we are the most busy and awake. Men are on patrol, carving out more trenches, hooking more barbed wire. We are all dangerous and in danger. We move to No Man’s Land. I told you of this area in a previous letter. I hope you have the capacity to remember.My intentions were pure when I first joined the fight for our country’s freedom. Now I see what war demands of me. Others were not so fortunate to be given an option. Numerous men in my platoon were conscripted. Too many to count. Of those, many have been killed. Either by the cold, the enemy or boredom. I feel powerless sometimes. All the time. I have come to realize I cannot defend everyone. From the shelling or snipers. Watching other unit members die. Their lifeless eyes. Smelling the stench issuing from their limp corpses. There is nothing to compare to that loss. And that loss never stops. Every five days, Annie, they bring in a new unit of men to compensate. The sight will never leave me. I will not, cannot allow it to. I stopped trying to remember all the dead’s names.One thing I cannot fathom, is in a country where freedom is preached, how could the officials possibly remove the freedom of choice? Though without all these soldiers, there would surely be no country to fight for. It is a complicated debate. One I look forward to having when I depart from this. When the war ends and we have won.I have found a friend in another soldier, about your age. Hopefully, he survives along with me. If we manage that, I hope to introduce him to you. I think you might enjoy his company. He is one of the best. His personality reminds me of you, Annie. His foul mouth matches yours.Please do not let mother worry. Tell her only of the friends I have made. And of the complimentary food I receive. If you could even call it that. I think I would be better off eating the dirt I live in. That or the oversized rats I call my tormentors. One comfort I do have is the rum. That keeps me more warm than anything. We should take an outing down to the club for a pint of beer when I return.It seems I have written far more than first intended. Maybe it is because I miss my sister. Or perhaps that is the exhaustion speaking. If I am spared by the grace of God, you will hear everything. Written words do not the sights of war justice. Or maybe I should of focused more in our town’s little one room schoolhouse. I suppose it is too late for that nowAll this will end soon enough, Annie. I can feel it in my chilled bones.With hope,Tommy