Imaginary friend or previous life?
With my father away in the RAF my sister and I used to live for about 6 months of each year with my grandmother in the rolling countryside of Devon. She was the archetypal rosy-cheeked, twinkly eyed, white haired Devon lady who actually ruled the area together with a black-haired neighbour named Black Bess. The two ladies seemed to have formed an unlikely alliance with the local clergy-man, a huge person with striking ginger hair, who had a habit of riding a large black horse with a cloak wrapped around him. He would appear like a spectre from the cliff top mists and boom at me “I know you – boy, run and tell your grandmother I will see her later”, it was a scenario that always made my blood run cold.
My grandmother lived in a pre-war world and did not possess a television, just a large Bakelite radio which ran from glass accumulators. She did not have mains electricity and the lighting was gas. The only water supply was from a squeaky pump in the kitchen and you always had the put the water on the window sill to “let it settle”. Most of our evenings were spent sitting by a large open fire and from an early age I would regale Grandmother with stories of the scenes in my head. She would always sit with an open book on her lap and listen carefully nodding and smiling where appropriate. I would tell her of my imaginary friend Christopher and how together we would watch hundreds of brown men and the same number of grey men. They were running, shouting and screaming in beautiful green fields with large areas of striking red flowers. The men would suddenly stop running and lie on the ground while overhead the sky would change from brilliant blue to massive black thunderous clouds with ear-splitting flashes of lightening. I know Grandmother told my mother about these tales but she always dismissed them saying not to take any notice – he just has an overactive imagination.
My childhood years in Devon went by and gradually the images in my mind became duller and our story telling sessions became less and less. One day in the rickety wooden shed at the bottom of the garden I found a rusty pair of what looked like pliers but cheaply made from pressed steel. They were wrapped in a piece of stained cloth and the faded initials CE were written in blue/black ink on the cloth. I showed them to my Grandmother and she just said “Keep them close – it will all be explained one day”
On to the present.
The years passed and so did my childhood, eventually my Grandmother died. Even though it was willed to my sister and me, the old house was sold by my father and pretty much the entire contents were burnt or destroyed. All that remained of my Grandmother was our memories of her and a few little trinkets that she had given to us over the years.
Over 50 years later I became seriously ill, so serious nobody expected me to survive. My wife bundled me into the Land-Rover and drove me to a large local hospital. I remember little of the following days and weeks other than being aware of soft voices around me and being moved from place to place. One day I awoke to a bright light and a voice calling my name. I was in high dependency and recollect a voice saying “well he survived the operation but I don’t know if he will live”.
Well I did live, initially in a world of mind bending drugs and rooms that changed shape, but live I did and two months later I was released back into the world and the care of my fantastic wife.
It took me six months to learn to walk and function again and in that time it allowed me to think again and appreciate the small things and the events in my life so far.
I was sitting by the window one day watching the birds feeding when I started to doze off into that world where you are neither asleep nor awake. A scene unfolded before my eyes which I hadn’t seen since I was a small boy, back with my Grandmother. The brown and grey men were back only this time I could see they were soldiers, the green fields were just that, full of crops and the red flowers were poppies waving in the breeze. Christopher, my imaginary friend was there, only this time he was not an imaginary friend at all, it was me !
The year was 1917 and the area was in Belgium and the flowers were gone - I was just an ordinary soldier like thousands of others around me. I was lying on a wooden pallet on a crude mattress stuffed with hay. The floor of the trench was thick mud and the rain poured incessantly. The stench of explosives, urine, and rotting something was all around. In the crook of my arm was curled up a small kitten, totally oblivious of the mayhem all around. (Apparently she appeared one day a frighten scrap covered in mud – I popped her into my kit-bag and fed her on bully-beef and condensed milk – we were inseparable thereafter.)
The days passed, with just incessant explosions, noise, screams, and flashes at night. One evening our sergeant came to tell us there was going to be a big push in the morning and the bombardment would start at 0430hrs. On the dot the first whine and whoosh of the shells overhead started, followed by the sickening crump as they exploded in the German lines. For two hours the bombardment continued, my little kitten having crawled into some empty ammo boxes for shelter. Suddenly it stopped; the silence was so quiet it hurt your ears. We all readied for the whistle to go over the top, but to our amazement the silence was broken as a lone skylark rose into the air and sang such a beautiful song among the death and destruction.
The whistles sounded, that hollow mournful sound and the pit of your stomach tied itself in knots as we rose up and charged into the unknown. Our attack was successful we overran the German lines, shooting anything that moved until we had advanced too far and were in danger of reaching our own creeping bombardment. After a while we turned back to our own lines passing less fortunate colleagues who were entangled in the barbed wire. Some were dead, others seriously wounded, their eyes either staring sightlessly at nothing, others wordlessly pleading for help. We reached our lines but three of us decided we couldn’t leave our friends to die in the barbed wire and mud. We dropped our rifles and backpacks and I reached into my pocket, pulling out a pair of army issue wire cutters wrapped in a piece of cloth with the initials CE written in blue/black ink.
The Germans had recovered a little and small arms fire whistled over our heads. Crawling on our bellies we worked our way back to the barbed wire entanglement. The first lad I reached was Kevin, we joined up together. I pulled out the wire cutters and started to cut away the barbs that impaled his flesh. I rose to my knees to pull away the wire so that he could get free, when suddenly I was aware of a massive impact in my back. There was no pain but a warm feeling spread over me and down my legs together with overwhelming feeling of weariness. I whispered “Sorry Kevin, mate, but I suddenly feel rather tired, I’ll just lie down here for a moment – we’ll all be OK” Then nothing but blessed oblivion.............
The Angel of Mons
- The Angels of Mons - Was this a miracle or Mass Hysteria
During the Great War 1914-1918 an incredible apparition of the Angel of The Lord appeared on the battlefield at Mons in Belgium and saved the British troops from annihilation.
Do you feel you may have lived before?
© 2012 Peter Geekie