Eustace stared at her from across the dining table. The candles flickered in the gentle breeze that wafted through the derelict house. The two of them were the only ones there. The rest of the troopers from his squad were elsewhere – either on sentry duty or taking the lull in the fighting to clean their weapons. It seemed fitting to their commander to reward Eustace with this time off – after all, if not for him, the bridge would have been destroyed and that would have dashed the plan.
Eunice stared back at him, a lock of golden hair covered part of her left eye. Both of them looked down at the spartan set up in front of them – a tattered table cloth, a clean plate, some spam and beans on it, and a candle holder with two lit candles placed in the center between them. Eustace smiled, “Some crazy shit eh, this war?”
“I thought I had gotten used to it,” came the reply “never thought I would live to see the day the Americans came fighting all the way through to our town.”
“Yeah, it’s all just Germans after Germans, I guess. I never saw much of this combined arms things myself. Up till now.”
“So…your objective is to hold the bridge?” she asked innocuously.
“Yep. Pretty much that. As well as the surrounding town. Then just sit tight and wait for Major Ben to link up with us by noon tomorrow. Can’t believe how close your band of thugs came to blowing it up.” Eustace was at ease with her. He could trust this girl.
Eunice smirked and looked away. “Good thing you spoke a whole sentence of English too. If you had just shouted ‘stop’ like those Germans do your whole platoon would have been dead.” She used her knife to prod at the spam.
“Funny eh? How we’re all supposed to be on the same side in this damn war, but it’s almost as if we’re all set to kill each other.”
“Sometimes it even seems like the Germans are helping us against the British.”
“I guess no one really knows what’s going on,” Eustace chuckled “We just fight whoever we are told. German, Italian, Hungrarian, Brit, French – it’s all the same people just wearing different clothes.”
At that Eunice chuckled too. “We aren’t very much different, you and I. I never liked fighting. I’ve never actually killed a German before.”
“Neither have I,” admitted Eustace.
‘Is this really all worth fighting for?”
“Definitely. But whether it’s worth dying for, that I’m not so sure,” said Eustace.
Both soldiers looked at each other. One clad in the paratrooper green of the United States Airborne, one in the dirt brown of a resistance fighter. Both were grimy and dirty and had splotches of dried blood here and there. There was a bloody gash in Eunice’s left arm where a piece of shrapnel had streaked by.
In the distance, the staccato fire of a machine gun started up. Men started shouting as they rushed to their positions.
Eustace took her hands in his. “Hey Eunice, let’s uh.. make a deal. Promise me, when all of this is over, you’ll go on a proper date with me? If we are still alive, that is.”
“You jolly well make sure you goddamn survive, then,” came the reply.
Without another word both reached for their weapons against the wall and rushed outside into the night. This operation Market Garden better be worth it.