NOT ALL BLACK AND WHITE.
Charles woke suddenly. Where was he? Why was it so hot? Charles tried to get up, but his legs hurt and seemed to be bogged down in something. Sand, he was in the middle of the desert! He was fighting a war.
The sun bore down on him relentlessly as he rose to his unsteady feet.
“Help, is there anybody there? Where are my troops?”
Charles slowly trudged onward through the sea of sand which seemed to be endless. He was so hot, so thirsty. “Please, I need a drink! Is there anybody there?”
“It’s okay Mr Charles, I’m taking you in out of the sun, and we’ll get you a drink!”
The nurse pushed the wheelchair back inside the large building.
Charles started to shiver.
The darkness overwhelmed him and it was so cold, so very cold.
“Where is my coat, I need my coat, I’ll freeze to death in here.!” Charles could see icicles forming on the arms of his chair, the snow was getting deeper, the wind was blowing and he couldn’t see a thing.
Someone gave him a coat which he threw over himself to keep warm.
“Have you taken your tablets today Mr Charles? You need to keep taking them, to keep away the delusions!”
“What was she talking about? He knew who he was, Charles Danford, and this was his mansion in Egypt.”
The darkness enveloped him as he felt his way along the edge of the cliff.
He knew he had to be careful so as not to get trapped in the deep sand.
“I should reach the bunker soon, it isn’t far from the camp, I just wish I could see where I was going.”
Suddenly there was a loud crack! The bright light stung his eyes and he tried to cover them up. “Oh no, they must have blown up the camp!”
“Wakey, wakey Mr Charles!” “Time to get up and have a shower, to start the day. Though what sort of a day you will have, I could never imagine in a million years!”
To Charles most days were the same. He was back fighting a war in Egypt. He also owned a large mansion in Egypt, which he shared with his fellow fighters. Charles had been stuck in this war for more than twenty years. Still fighting and still trying to escape, every day.
Something had happened to his brain when he had been too close to an explosion, and now he had no way of going forward.
His family had despaired of trying to look after him as he needed full time care. They visited on a regular basis, but Charles always thought they were his fellow fighters, and encouraged them to carry their rifles and follow him on his patrols, so they would leave again.
“You have a visitor today Mr Charles. Your daughter is coming to see you, that will be nice, won’t it?”
Charles looked at the nurse with a blank face. “Who was this woman that kept trying to talk to him?”
“You are dismissed Sergeant, I need to work on my maps today, and I don’t want to be disturbed!”
The nurse sighed to herself and shook her head, wondering if he would ever come out of his imaginary world to at least say hello to his daughter.
As Charles sat there talking to himself, his only daughter arrived.
“Hello Dad!” She said as she gave him a peck on the cheek. “How are you going today? Do you know who I am?”
“Of course I know who you are!”
His daughter smiled and gave him a hug.
“You are the Field Sergeant, and you should be in the barracks with the others. Why are you here bothering me, when I am trying to work on my maps? Sergeant take this soldier back where she belongs, or I will have her court martialled!”
With that he went back to talking and working on an imaginary sheet of maps he held in front of him.
Charle’s daughter rushed back inside, tears streaming from her eyes. She so loved her Dad, but now he didn’t know her, and his Doctor said he only had a short time left, before his mind stopped working completely.
“Oh Mr Charles, where are you? Why can’t you come back to us, just for a while. Just long enough to acknowledge your daughter. It would make her so happy.” The nurse said as she pushed his chair back into his room.
“What are you babbling on about Sergeant? I know we need to set up an offensive at the corner near the Egypt Hotel, That is where we will be attacked today. Go and get your men ready to leave!”
The nurse sighed as she put a blanket over his knees and then left the room.
For the rest of the day Charles and his men fought a battle. By 7pm that night there were only four of them left. It was getting dark and they had hardly any ammunition left.
“Okay men, this is it. This is our last stand. We have to give it everything we have. I love you men like a family, and I wish you all the best.”
His men thanked him and then took up their positions for the last battle of their lives.
They all fought valiantly but they were overwhelmed. As Charles lay on the dusty road he thought about his family. He had a daughter back home somewhere, but he hadn’t seen her for a very long time. She must be a grown up woman by now.
Charles could hear someone yelling in the distance. Help had arrived, but he knew it was too late for him and his fellow soldiers.
As he lay there, suddenly a face loomed over him. A bright light shone in his eyes. “Are you there Charles, can you hear me? This is Dr Nome. I need you to move your hand, or blink for me. Just something to let me know you understand.”
Charles looked at the figure lying on the bed. He looked so old, so frail. How had he got so old in such a short time.? He knew that he was gone
to somewhere better and he didn’t have to fight any battles anymore.
A pretty woman was sitting by his side weeping. It was his daughter and it was the first time he had seen her for so long, but he couldn’t tell her how much he loved her, now.
“I am so sorry miss, your Dad’s mind has gone and he won’t last the night out. I would say your good-byes now.”
Charles listened in silence as his Daughter told him how much she loved him. How much she wished he knew and could give her a last hug.
They didn’t understand that he knew what was happening. The tears rolled out of his eyes as he wished so much to hold his daughter and tell her how much he had missed her. They lay on the bed crying together and he was sure she knew.
There was a very bright light shining through the window of the room and he could feel the warmth of the sun streaming through. Suddenly he felt so happy, he gave his daughter’s hand a last squeeze, which frightened the life out of her. “Thank you Dad, I love you too, so very much, and now you can stop your battles.”
The room faded to black and he could see his wife calling him in the distance. “Come on Charles, you will miss dinner, it’s getting late!”
His battles were finished and he was home again.