Returning to Omaha Beach

Returning to Omaha Beach

A Story by A Jackson

This is written through the eyes of an elderly war veteran as he visits Omaha Beach for the first time since the war. Published in my book under the name 'Memories of a Past Life'.


"The roads seemed endless as the cab bounced along the streets that held the nightmares I had long separated from my mind. It was that same sensation as the cramped car tore through the village; constantly throwing me from one side of the seat to the other that brought back those terrifying nerves. It was closer now, my gut was wrapping itself around my lungs as I panicked; choking. The grandchildren laughed with such innocent excitement behind me. Their excitement betraying but how were they to know where they were going? To them, this was a fun day trip to the seaside, to me, this was a frightening journey into the past…


    I looked down at my smart clothes in wonder; why had I felt such a need to present myself so nicely? It occurred to me that maybe it was that strange need to prove to the beach that I had the strength to return with my head held high. The strange yet familiar scent of sweat and salt from the fisherman, fighting with sea, burned at my senses causing water to lap silently at my eyes. Memories seeped from my veins; the fear of my fellow friends and brothers returning from my haunted memories as the cab approached the sands; closer, closer they came. I wasn’t ready. My heart thrashed in my throat. Specks of gold and smiling faces drew closer, this was it. We were here.


    Silence. Deathly silence screamed through me. No-one dared to speak. Nerves had overcome the need to offer false hope to one another; we knew what was coming next… I was so tired of being there. Childish fears returned so easily; the pain extraordinarily real. Friends, soldiers, strangers, all compressed like lifeless sardines in a square of rusting tin, bobbing to the shores of death. Explosions in the distance released my aching heart from hope’s loose clutch. Thick, hypnotic clouds of grey shone with each flash of fire above us. Men, dressed from head to toe in worthless armour, bellowed their prayers through tears of terror and panic. My body numbed. We were edging slowly closer. Soldiers at the front cried desperately for some sort of escape; some barely of age. Blood boiled in my veins, anger pouring down my cheeks. The whirring stopped. Deep gasps of clean air were heard as the door slowly opened…


    The sand crunched beneath the soles of my feet as I edged slowly to where the water slithered up the shore. The sun had just appeared through the mist over the horizon but the Autumn chill still lingered. The gentle purr of the waves climbed closer to my feet. Small children flashed before my eyes as they ran into the breaking waves; beaming faces reflecting the happiness they shared; such selfishness. There they were; pushing each other down into the speeding white horses and running away, oblivious to the fact that fifty years ago, my fellow soldiers and I fought against the same tides that threatened our safety. Crabs scuttled by my toes. Their hard shells protecting them from the predators lurking in the shadows, ready to attack at any moment…just watching, just waiting…


    The first glimpse of the enemy was a fatal one. Without hesitation they opened fire. In the time it took us to take a short breath, the first two rows of soldiers had been brutally slayed. Bodies fell back onto our feet as we struggled into the shallows. The icy waters burned at my skin but I had to keep below the surface for the smallest chance of survival. I began to sink; the armour and heavy weapons pulling me further towards the sandy depths. My arms fought with the current to release me from my weights. Bright lights illuminated the bloody waters around me. My breath was failing. I clambered to the surface dazedly, my arms thrashing around at my sides as if independent from my body. Explosions thundered above the water pulling me from the wreckage of my silent reverie. 


    I strolled along the shoreline and turned around; my back to the sea. Houses and cafes had replaced the bloody swamps that had tormented my existence. The wind blew gently at my earlobes, dogs barking joyfully at their exhausting owners nearby. I smiled.


    Unwanted tears sprang to my eyes as I dragged myself to shore; my aching muscles bringing me to my knees. The stench of blood thickened the already poisoned air, making it difficult to breathe. I was getting closer to safety; I had made it out of the waters at least. Bullets from the demonic rifles shot continuously through the air, rippling at the smoke. Broken bodies lay amongst the dust screaming out in pain for their loved ones. I wanted to help them all; to stand by their side and comfort each and every one of them as they died but I couldn’t - I had to follow my orders and ignore the suffering as they lay there dying alone. 


Orders echoed through me. Shell-shocked, I dreamed of what lay ahead. 


Shining white figures danced weightlessly on the sands like angels; leaving me in such a trance - the beach blurred around me as my head spun in all directions until a hand covered my own bringing me back to the moment. Together, we were almost there. I gripped tightly at the hand of my fellow soldier; my brother, and hand in hand, we struggled up the sandy graveyard. 


    I looked down to see the innocent face of my granddaughter; her eyes sparkling in the bright morning rays, capturing her beauty. My heart smiled; her happiness overthrew all the pain I had symbolised with this terrifying beach. I withdrew my hand and slowly sauntered along the dock. The sea glittered softly in the suns’ heat beside me, quietly singing its’ comforts. At last, after all this time, my heart was soothed."

© 2014 A Jackson

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Added on January 26, 2014
Last Updated on January 26, 2014
Tags: war, rememberance


A Jackson
A Jackson

Birmingham, United Kingdom

Born and raised in Birmingham, Britain’s second city, I’m a real city girl through and through. As an account manager for a marketing agency, I have mainly focused my professional writing .. more..

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