It is dawn. Everyone awake. Everyone asleep. Ahead of me the worn down road lies before my sleep deprived eyes like a tarmac ribbon, stretching on for what seems to be forever. The deafening rattle of loose items, bounces off the neglected walls of this fragile tinny bus. The bus is anything but luxurious, everything sits smothered in the grime of three decades. Seats jolt violently with every small crevice scarred upon the remaining of the road. Fogged up windows are beaded and morning rain caves down on the roof like a crazy drummer. Inside is no lighter than outside. Around me people sit like statues all facing forward, faces appearing like many broken mirrors. My mother planted firmly in the seat beside me, gripping my hand until her knuckles turn a ghostly kind of white. Her glass like eyes’ stare blankly at the vibrant poppy placed upon her heart. Four aisles ahead of us is a young boy, he sits alone at the head of the bus where every so often you may just catch a glimpse of his tattered beanie rising and falling above the threadbare chair. Like clock-work, every five minutes his skeleton like arm elongates swiping at the condensation that continuously fogged up the windows with his scraggly blue mitten. Outside, under the many layers of mist that swirl thicker than hairspray, the ghost town sits out-of-place in the rolling hills of the forever sun-kissed yellow grass.
Blink and you’ll miss it.
The occasional yet rare sight of a window who was still in contact with its glass, many had broken some time ago now that there were to be no traces left of the shards on the rotting deck. Houses barely standing, now being weighed down by gravity. They lay beneath roofs of what seemed to be sagging like a disappointing soufflé. Only welcome was to be the howl of the wind that snapped at the ribs of the yellow bus. This place had passed away long ago now, without even a witness to mourn over it. Three-storey homes and run down stores are clustered alarmingly close together, look closely and you will see the dark ominous clouds that continuously brew like the pint of beer left on the counter of the only pub in town. Brittle trees which remain in their soil creak, moan and twist as their last limbs are quickly torn away with the blistering wind. I am blinded by yellow, orange, and red as the last few autumn leaves become not confetti, but bullet shells showering down in the gales. The old-fashioned cars are still there, loyally waiting for their owners whom will never appear. Maybe they still lie in their beds, but they won’t be rising with the sun.
Everyone knew the history of this ghost town, although they barely spoke of it. A battlefield, was now home for those who had fallen. Laying quiet, it was now a graveyard for the unburied. Their bodies still lie amongst the forget-me nots and buttercups. Although the ground glistened with rain that had previously fallen through the restless night, the liquid wasn’t to be clear but red. Rich with the memories of our loved ones. Todays date is no ordinary. Today, a world remembers gunshots from long ago. Remembrance day. Lurching forward, the bus screeches to an abrupt holt, reaching our final destination just in time for the haunting sounds of the bugle to sound out fulfilling the brisk air. Forget-me-nots feeling heavy in my clutched hand, fingernails piercing through my skin. The crinkling plastic bag disturbing the deathly silence that engulfed me. A blanket of white hung over my shoulders, swirling and eating every distant object, sneaking around every corner. I had reached the stone I was here for, this was no ordinary stone; this was a place I’d been to many times. Placing my bouquet at the base, as a salty tear escapes my eye.
“Thank you for your sacrifice Dad” I whisper.