In the Trenches By Cynthia B. Ainsworthe




The night is quiet from the day’s deafening bombardment of bombs and screeching sounds of dying men, some not more than a foot away. I sit in this piss-laden trench wondering when my time will come. Will it be tomorrow or the next? Numb from all this death and suffering, I don’t care anymore. If I’m meant to end on a French battlefield, then it’s better than being shipped home with a missing limb.

Charlie was sent home last week due to trench foot. Most of his toes were gone from gangrene. He’ll be glad to see his family, even if it means hobbling for the rest of his life. John was looking forward to going home next week. A sniper’s bullet pierced his helmet while we were talking about those lively cancan girls we wanted to see on leave.

Why are we here? Because an arrogant bastard, the Keiser, wanted to rule all of Europe and maybe the world, too. Sinking the Lusitania was the turning point. I was full of patriotic fervor when I signed up. I joined to protect the United States from tyranny and a malicious underbelly. The cause was right and just—freedom for all. My starry eyes blinded the realization of what war really meant. War is killing—killing the sons, brothers, and fathers of others who just believe in taking the enemies’ lives. Here we are. Two sides praying to the same God for a victory.

Armentières was a hell storm, or so I’ve been told by a British soldier when he came to our camp searching for his fellow platoon mates. I have no idea why a song was composed about that city in France. You know the one I’m talking about—“Mademoiselle From Armentières, Parlez-Vous.” Funny how silly things come to mind, like a song, when I don’t know if I’ll see tomorrow, or much of it.

We went by foot to this place. Ruin and devastation nearly everywhere we looked, and then a pretty wildflower took me back to home. My mind saw Mama at the stove making the best beef stew anyone ever tasted, my young sister helping her by gathering the ingredients and placing them on the counter. I went to take a taste from the worn wooden spoon. “Stop that! It’s not ready yet.” Her words rang in my ears. She’d then kiss my cheek and I’d feel her loving hand stroke the hair on my head, just as she did when I stood no higher than her apron sash.

Poppa is a mechanic and owns his own business. He’s got plans for me to join him when I return from this war. Even has a sign at the back of the shop with “and Son” on the end of the name. He told me he had that sign made when I was born. I learned a lot from him—what’s right and wrong, fear of God, respect women, and a man is only as good as his word. Seems to me there are too many in this world who haven’t learned those lessons, or else don’t care about them.

This is supposed to be the Great War, and the War to End All Wars. Somehow, I don’t believe it. There’s just too much hate in men’s hearts and the thrill of power and rule make them seek ways to strike down those who disagree with them. I fear this is only the beginning of what’s to come for a hundred or more years from now. I’m just a common foot soldier and know nothing about war plans and strategies, but I know this—as long as men refuse to accept differences in others, this war is the reflection of intolerance, and conflict will be the normal way of things to come for generations.

WW I.2


© 2015 Cynthia B. Ainsworthe



Life’s circumstances put Cynthia’s dream to be a write on hold for most of her life. In 2006 she ventured to write her first novel. Front Row Center, is being adapted to screen. A script is in development by her and known Hollywood screenwriter, producer, director, Scott C Brown. She has vast interests in art and history. Cynthia shares, with other authors, the Reader’s Favorite International Award for two short stories, When Midnight Comes, and Characters, which she contributed to the horror anthology The Speed of Dark, compiled by Clayton C Bye, published by Chase Enterprises Publishing. She garnered the Excellence in Writing Award from It Matters Radio for her short story It Ain’t Fittin.

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19 thoughts on “In the Trenches By Cynthia B. Ainsworthe

  1. Kenneth Weene

    It is too easy to forget what war is really about, the pain, the suffering, and the personal sacrifice of individual soldiers doing what they think is right while rulers and rich men set the carnage in motion. Thanks for reminding us.

    1. Cynthia B Ainsworthe

      Ken, Thank you for your wonderful comment. I was born of parents who were born in 1901 and 1907. Dad was almost 50, and Mom was in her 40s at my birth. They both told me vivid stories of history as they remembered those events. Though I was born in the late 40s, I feel as if I experienced those wars, the Great Depression, etc. I have mental images from my Mom and Dad that will never leave me. My Dad’s mom told me of Civil War stories and the aftermath. I guess that’s one of the blessings of being born of older parents.

  2. Monica Brinkman


    What a wonderful story on this Memorial Day. As one who has known so many relatives and friends who have faced the wrath of war, this brought me sadness.
    I only hope many people will read this story and open their own eyes to the horror of it all. My hope is our children and grandchildren will be strong and brave enough to speak with each other rather than use weapons in solving differences.

  3. James L. Secor

    The Big ME is what I call those folks, the ones who want to establish themselves forever, seeking power infinitum, etc. Do they suffer from an inferiority complex, being Freudian? The starters of the wars. Why is there such a belief, a perception that others are stealing “my” power? The worst thing is that the soldiers on the ground have been misled–the armies have been misled?–and the begetters of this hell do not give a damn. “We” even do it to our own: Civil War, protestors harassed by military-like police and the military. . .

  4. John B. Rosenman

    A beautiful and painful story, Cynthia. I think I know this soldier well. Yes, there are so many who haven’t learned these elemental lessons yet, and because they haven’t, there are so many others who will suffer. And the soldier’s prophecy is true. How well he sees the future, for senseless wars will not only continue but become increasingly destructive and dangerous.

    1. Cynthia B Ainsworthe

      John, Thank you for your wonderful comment. I’m glad you enjoyed my piece. It’s a sad state that war is still in this world and all suffer because of the decisions of “leaders”.

  5. Micki Peluso

    Cynthia, this is one of the most poignant and beautifully written stories I’ve read in a while. Your character takes me right there with him, breaks my heart and saddens me that as we see today , he was right. There will always be war–bigger and more destructive. This whole piece show go on FB this memorial Day to remind everyone just how much was sacrificed that we might have, for now, the privilege of celebrating with our families.

    1. Cynthia B Ainsworthe

      Micki, I’m glad that you enjoyed my piece. From the stories my Dad and Mom told me about WW I, I felt I lived that experience with them. They could remember the newspaper headlines. I could be wrong, but I think we lost more of our soldiers in WW I than in any other conflict—that’s what my parents told me.

    1. Cynthia B Ainsworthe

      Sal, I’m pleased that you felt I brought you to that trench. That was my goal. I wanted readers to realize that WW I wasn’t something that was gloss over—as is the case in most school rooms. Soldiers in WW I, and in all following wars suffer. Pain and death is universal.


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