NOTE: This was an 8th Grade Social Studies project on WWII and D-Day. It was written by Alexandra Bayon.

Darkness.

Like black ink, pooling in a dark heap that oozes with no control. That’s how this felt. Gone was the life of all of these men. It was their time, and it was my job to take them. My job as Death. Men all around me were screeching and screaming, but I tuned it out. It wouldn’t help to get attached; it only made things harder. Men killed other men. It was vile.

I stood by, waiting for what I knew was inevitable. A group of men fighting for America approached an obstacle; a hedgehog armed with Teller mines. It wasn’t long before it was detonated, and men were blown to bits. One man had his arm blown off, another his legs. They would last a little longer. The man I needed to collect had been blown backwards, hitting his head on shrapnel and breaking his neck. I knelt next to him, and scooped his soul into my arms. It was light, as most were. His eyes were closed in a deep sleep. I sighed and waited for the next man whom I would collect. And waited. I was forever the observer. And it disgusted me. Never could I do anything, just sit back, and become numb by the show.

I went over to a Tetrahydra and sat down in it. It couldn’t hurt me, I was Death. No, I let it cradle me, as I cradled the souls in my arms. I watched as a troop of men were crawling behind a cluster of hedgehogs. Many were bleeding and wounded. They attempted to halt the flow of blood, yet the dark fluid poured out, draining the men of life. They would be collected soon enough. I saw a man shot in the head, the bullet leaving a trail in its wake. I stood up gracefully, and retrieved the man’s soul.

Feather light, no longer burdened by the raging war. He would stay in an eternal slumber, never to be disturbed again. Never to be harassed by the evils of the living. They say death is evil. The dead are disturbing. Frightening. Terrorizing. But in reality, they have it all wrong. Lost souls don’t start raging wars against each other, like the one I was witnessing before my very eyes.

The loud chorus of yet another bomb detonating and screams of agony filled the air, weighing down on my heart. I let out a sigh, and went to retrieve the next soul. It wasn’t long until my arms were filled with the souls of the dead. I started to leave the wretched scene and passed them along to my brother, the guardian of souls to the afterlife. Sometimes, I wished to switch my place with his. He never had to stay silent watching the last dying breath. He just had to carry them to their resting place.

But sometimes, I’d rather have my place. Most of the souls were in an eternal, tranquil sleep. But not all of them went down softly. Not much time had passed before I had returned. I was supernatural and immortal; time didn’t pass for me the way it does for humans. I went back to the shore of Normandy’s Beach, and sat down on a piece of ship that had been blown up by Germans. I swayed easily in gentle fall of the blood tinted waves. The sound of waves was soft, delicate, lulling.

By now it was in the early morning hours where the sun just barely crept up from beneath the horizon. The colors had not started to bleed into the sky yet, but the glowing orb of the sun had already started to rise. To the eye that wasn’t looking it would have most likely been missed. Most of these eyes weren’t looking though; they were busy dying for their country.

Sounds of gunfire pulled me out of my haze. A particular man caught my attention. He was American, and lying stomach down on the ground, gun poised for the kill. He aimed upward, to where Germans were shooting down on them. They were well hidden with their garb of neutrals, and shadowed behind bushes, sand dunes, and debris. I looked back down to the American.

He took a breath and started muttering. Maybe last rites or a quick prayer before he closed an eye, and squeezed the trigger. I felt the pull of the life of an unfortunate person whose life had ended. It wasn’t an American, or any other soldier from the Allied Forces. It was from the Germans. Definitely peculiar, considering the lack of soldiers present in this specific attack. Nevertheless, this German soldier had indefinitely passed the point of return. His fight was over, and he would be relieved of the struggles of the mortal world.

His soul was cradled in my arms as I went to the next soul. I went back to the shore line. I walked back and fourth, trying to shake the dread from the depths of my bones. I was beckoned down below the shore. I looked around as the hues of blue varied in swirls around me. Cobalt, cerulean, aqua, and azure surrounded me, only to be tainted by crimson. It was a pity, really. Beautiful landscapes were often demolished by scenes of war.

I reached the bottom, and started walking towards the tank that had sunk, its precious cargo never to see sun shine in its purest forms again. Men were colored by the ocean, their eyes open yet unseeing. I gathered their souls one by one, plucking like berries from a bush. The last one to be gathered was the Private. His soul was not sleeping; these were rare. “Who are you? Where am I?” His soul questioned sternly. “I am Death. You are dead, and at the bottom of the ocean,” I replied calmly. “Oh. That still doesn’t really explain where I am though,” He replied. “That because there really is no place for where you are. Hush now my child. You are safe now,” I said, and I walked back up to the shore.