This was written as a response to the first Prose of the Season Challenge (Neverending) This was interesting to write, as I've never actually written my own stories before (even though this was heavily influenced by a certain series that may or may not be included in my siggy). Also, that certain part at the end is quite possibly the closest I've ever come to romance... Comments, especially constructive criticism are welcome. Title: Holiday in the Ardennes Genre: War, angst? Rating: PG-13? Warnings: Some violence in detail, death, one mention of sex (well, two if you count the warning itself >.<) He tries closing his eyes, but the flashing doesn’t stop. He clamps his frozen hands over his ears, but the high-pitched whine followed by a loud ear-shattering boom still pierces through his senses. He wants to huddle next to his friend in their foxhole, but he knows no-ones there, and hasn’t been there for what feels like months, days, seconds, years and hours all at the same time. Where he is time doesn’t matter anymore. His world is dominated by the cold, the yells for cover and medics, shivering, eating cold food that doesn’t feed, sleeping without receiving any rest, and that God forsaken whine followed by the nightmarish boom. The short lull of calm in the middle of the shelling just makes things worse. He knows that it’s bound to start again in a matter of minutes (Hours? Weeks? Seconds?), but his heart keeps whispering to him, “Maybe this time will be different, maybe this time they’ve really stopped,” and he begins to feel relief sagging his shoulders, he raises his head out of the foxhole, pushing the fallen branch off of him, listening to the frantic screams for a medic and commands to stay down. He stands there, looking around in a daze as others get up, either to help the wounded or mirror his own confusion. As time passes fewer men are pulled back into their makeshift shelter, and even the most skeptic poke their heads up to assess the situation. He has managed to convince himself that it’s all over right in time for a sharp, yelled, “Incoming!” to break his mind yet again, and he falls back into the foxhole, not sure if he was pushed or if his reflexes have become so automatic that a simple word can override the dullness of his mind. He stares at the place his comrade (his friend, his brother, his world) used to inhabit, and he wants to remember their joint laughter. Their stories of home, boot camp, women, and everything they could ever think of told through shivering lips. The tiny bit of heat radiating from their bodies as they held on tightly at night. Their determined looks when they swore that the war would never get to them (now look where they were). The way the shrapnel had torn through the chest of his friend, so quickly (thank God it was so quick) ending a life that had used to bring so much joy to the people around him that the entire company was reduced to a state of unspoken numbness at his loss. He wants to remember so much, but the shelling will not, can not, allow it. He wants to remember his family, his father’s booming laugh and the way he always made him feel like he had his fathers support. He wants to remember his mother’s warm smile and eyes, and the way he held him so gently, yet so tight as he was getting ready to board the train taking him away to boot camp. He wants to remember his brother’s and sister’s playful bickering, and the way they’d looked at him deep in the eye, and made him vow to come back home safely. He wanted to remember his fiancÃ©e’s look of pure love, the way she… well everything about her. Her beautiful face, the way she could calm him down simply by being there, the way she’d try to cover her mouth when she laughed (he cherished the few seconds of extra contact he got when he pried her hand away gently), the way she’d quickly tuck her hair behind her ear whenever she was flustered, the way she felt and looked whenever they made love. How she’d fought back her tears when she told him that he had joined the Parachute Infantry right after December 7th, and how she had let those tears fall free when he had proposed to her an hour later. The way she had held his face tenderly, and told him to do whatever he must, before kissing him deeply, saying “Goodbye,” and “I love you,” quite possibly for the last time, before walking away with just one glance to spare, leaving him alone on his family’s front porch. None of those thoughts cross his mind as the shelling continues, still as relentless as ever. His mind knows nothing but that flash and boom, the short pause that gave just enough time for the wounded to call loud enough that their screams would always be heard in their comrade’s dreams, and then again with that flash and boom. A part of him hopes that his mind would just shut down completely, leaving him an empty shell. A part of him hopes for the end. But there was still that biggest part that hopes that the bombs would just stop, and let them be. He never gets to realize that the shelling has ended.