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So Many
by Ian Curtress

At last his mind, his sanity was returning. He remembered his loving Wife, his adorable five year old son. He had lost weight and was a mess. Remembered how fit he used to be.
Another World to which he no longer belonged.
His behaviour to his family was unforgivable. The past year had been grotesque. Wandered, slept rough, starved. But they will never understand.
You hand in your uniform, get a pat on the back and be expected to return to civilian life. A life you do not recognise. As alien as another planet. An escape. There is no escape.
To be surrounded every moment of every day by a nightmare of horror. Death the norm.
Don’t become close to anyone because they will soon be gone, unless you are lucky and go first.
How happy he was to have survived, looking forward to seeing his family again. To bring the shutters down on a world of indescribable hell.
But it was a different kind of hell. Everything was clean, calm, eerie.
Warm with wholesome food and sleep. But the sleep brought nightmares. Feelings of guilt for surviving.
Others were still there, suffering, dying. He was safe. Safe from what. Everyday he was still there, still with them!
He had to escape. Knew he was harming his loved ones. Emotions out of control. And so he ran. Sleeping rough and at risk, hungry and unwashed. At home!

He had been two nights in a hostel, eaten well and slept soundly. Was clean and felt respectable. Noticed a lovely sunrise, first appreciated for a long time.
He saw the date on a newspaper and realised he was crying. Tomorrow was his seventh wedding anniversary.
The Charity running the hostel had given him twenty pounds to get him started. He made the first real decision for a long time and it felt good
There’s an old Inn on the river Wye where he had proposed to his Wife and he knew he had to be there for that day.
By getting two lifts and considerable walking he was seated outside by two o’clock. Looking at the river, listening to the birdsong, he couldn’t describe his emotions.
Wonderful memories, great sadness and regret.
He had slumped on the seat thinking what might have been when a dog jumped up at him.
Attached to the dogs lead was a not so small boy with tears in his eyes. Then a soft gentle hand he knew so well clasped his…
Come on, we’re going home. So many didn’t…..