Chemin des Dames (2nd Battle of the Aisne)

Some things need to be shared. This is one of them.

unbuttoned or undone

April 16th, 1917

Abdoulaye N’Diaye is dying, tucked between the bodies of two other soldiers of the 43rd Battalion. He thinks he recognizes Moustapha on his left. The infantryman is missing the top of his face, his guts spilled in muck. Frozen blood partially hides some tribal scars.
But it is Moustapha’s grin.

In a lull between shells, he hears Germans soldiers approaching. Face down, unmoving, Abdoulaye is terrified, frostbitten fingers clenched around his useless gun.
Through the panic, he concentrates on his chest, where the amulet his mother gave him to keep him safe rests. Freezing rain pelts again as he mercifully loses consciousness and stops shaking. His fear and shock ooze into the mud.

Death creeps in slowly with nightfall. Rats gnawing at his legs, scurry across his body to the blinding throbs in his skull and wake him. The dirty mist is full of ghosts and wandering…

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