“Nathaniel! You wake now!”
I parted with reluctance to the blackness and woke to Theodor peering at me, a grin planted on his face.
“It is Christmas! We celebrate!”
I glanced around my surroundings and gaped. It seemed like both English and German soldiers were huddled in the German trenches, not one sombre at all. I could see Peter and Tom… and there was Colonel Ricards chatting to a Jerry! I laughed, and noticed how it was the first time I had laughed in two years, let alone smile.
Behind me were soldiers playing football with empty bully beef cans, and everyone else seemed to be swapping cards and cigarettes. This was amazing! The English and Germans have united!
Theodor must have seen my expression as he sorrowfully said,
“Only for another hour. We fight again soon.”
The ray of sun above my head disintegrated, and a cloud of despair hung instead.
“But what about me and you, Theodor? I want to be friends – you saved my life, for Christ’s sake!”
I looked down at my arm, which was now carefully bandaged and painless. A tear trickled down Theodor’s cheek, and he gently smiled.
“I know. We still be friends. We still be good friends. But, we still fight. You and me don’t want to fight. But we still do. I will remember you always. You remember me.”
Fifty-eight minutes afterwards I went back to my trench. I never saw Theodor again.
26th December 1914
There I was again, fighting the Germans, just a few hours after our brief but friendly meeting. I thought of Theodor and my eyes welled up with tears. I knew he was fighting as well. So I fought. Not because of the war. Not because of the Germans. I fought because of my hate for the monster. I fought for Theodor.