War. A three-letter word that has the power to obliterate everything. It tears apart people, families, and friendships. The victims of war are drowned in a constant wave of guilt, regrets, grief, and pain. Even when you are past the war, it doesn’t leave you behind. Finding peace again is a challenge. But there are a few lucky people, who find a way to shield themselves from all the pain in the middle of a war. It could be a person they love, a letter from home, a token from a lover or even just a memory. Anything to keep you sane amidst the chaos.
Sean Laidlaw, a 30-year-old British soldier, was stationed in Syria at the beginning of the year 2018. Sean worked as a bomb disposal expert, and as a result, would often find himself in the rubbles of buildings and houses. During one such incident, Sean found himself looking through the remains of a collapsed building to find survivors. Little did he know, while sifting through the debris he is about to discover something that will change his life forever.
Not A Dream
It was an early morning in Raqqa, a city in the land of Syria. Sean had just woken up, startled and drenched in sweat, from yet another nightmare. Sleep didn’t come easy to him anymore. After spending months in the middle of a war, it was just a matter of when he stops sleeping. And it happened sooner than he had expected. Sean got out of his tent rubbing away the remains of sleep from his eyes.
The horizon had a hue of gold, as the sun was about to rise in the sky. This was the third time in a row that Sean had woken up from a nightmare and was awake way before he is supposed to. Sleep was a foreign affair now, not meant to bring him peace. He missed his home back in England. He didn’t wake up to the sounds of gunshots or bombs. He didn’t have nightmares all night long.
Sean belonged to the town of Hornchurch in Essex, England. Stating the obvious but life in England was quite different from his life now. They had crisp winters, stormy springs, and disappointing summers. However, the heat he has been surrounded by for the past couple of months made British summers feel not that disappointing. Besides, the weather condition was not his major concern. It was everything else.
Being in the middle of an ongoing war could strip you from the last shreds of your humanity. That was Sean’s biggest fear. He didn’t want to lose himself amongst the chaos and carnage of the war. And as disturbing as it sounds, Sean was grateful that his primary job involved diffusing bombs. He could be in the middle of everything yet away from the turmoil of it all.
Of course, this didn’t mean that he had it easy. Nobody with a functioning brain would assume that a bomb diffuser’s job is easy. But if he could say so himself, Sean was one of the best ones. His hands were steady as a rock and so far he has not missed one IED. He somehow always got it right.
Sean was just finishing up with breakfast when he heard a commotion amongst his peers. The mailman was here which means everyone was restless and excited to receive their share of letters and packages. Sean was in no hurry so he stayed put at his bench. It is not that he didn’t want to hear from his family, it just took him a lot of courage to reply to those letters.