Tuesday, April 9, 2013


He opened his eyes and saw Milly, quite clearly, in relief against the reading-lamp, blackness all round her and he was aware that she was bewildered and hopeless and needed him and that he was dying; it seemed to him that she was watching him with horror as if he was the first of all men whom sooner or later she must come to know; he unsealed his ears and heard the breathing catch in her throat.  He put his foot against the rail and urged his jaw to open, his muscles to respond;  then there was pain and a sense of something breaking and the taste of blood and his throat filling and a struggle to breathe.

  He never knew that he screamed in spite of his broken jaw; but with curious irrelevance, out of the darkness, after they had left him and his pulses had ceased beating and he was dead, consciousness returned for a fraction of a second, as if his brain had been a hopelessly shattered mirror, of which one piece caught a passing light.  He saw and his brain recorded  the sight:  twelve men lying uneasily awake in the public ward with the wireless headpieces clamped across their ears, and a nurse reading under a lamp, and nobody beside his bed.

Text:  Graham Greene, It’s A Battlefield (1934)

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