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27 January 2006 @ 09:28 pm
Military Worship  
Authors Notes: I have a soft spot for this piece, probably because I love Army Cadets so much. This piece came naturally as it is the moment that always comes to mind when I smell that strange combination of Brasso and Military Shine that is only reminiscent of Cadets. I hope you enjoy my small tribute to all my friends that I work with every week at my unit.

Military Worship
by Jade

The elongated shadows of the light poles creep silently over the worn bubbles of gravel and bitumen, returning to their hiding places as the sun rises over the haphazard collection of red-brick guards. Soon the dawn will reveal the smoky overcast clouds that the sacred ground seems to reflect. Or is the sky merely reflecting the starkness of this holy surface like it reflects the colour and emotions of the sea? As I stand here, I wonder.

If morning was already thought of as unpleasantly cold, the wind drives hard its reinforcement, whispering to a few lone trees nearby, teasing their branches and stealing the bronze leaves that join its whimsical, heady dance around me and across the sparse, dead wasteland. With the wind, there comes life- the murmurs of routine and the occasional gurgle of a black-and-white gentleman waking the world with his garbled song eventually reaching my ears.

Suddenly I hear heavy footsteps, clumsy and uneven, begin to encroach on the beautiful reawakening of the world. They move as the legs of a caterpillar might, a Mexican Wave of unsure limbs. I cannot stop the surge of disappointment trail through my body at the restrained chaos that approaches the parade ground.

However as soon as the shiny black, business like boots move from the pale concrete to the ominous gravel, a startling transformation over comes the collection of individual fantasies and thoughts. Broad shoulders unfurl like the wings of a butterfly, spines straighten and to their gait returns a sense of purpose. Gravel crunches underfoot, but no longer is it the incomprehensible grinding of before. There is only one step, and one movement forward.

One does not to be among the toy soldiers to understand the significance of this early morning ritual. There is no pause in the movements now as the mind returns to a familiar sense of cohesion. Each step perfectly timed as the unit performs a bizarre ballet dressed in a baggy green skin.

Restraint is the key. It shows in each uniform crease that looks as if it would draw blood if touched. Brass shines like mini-sunrises and does indeed brighten as the sun momentarily appears, only to have a wicked cloud obscure it once again. They all look like carbon copies of the other. From where I stand I am unable to notice even those people who are as close to me as blood relations.

As I watch, time becomes syrupy and slow. This one moment of time extends into eternity. The wind continues its whispering symphony, trying to encourage a momentary lapse of concentration in one person to destroy this group’s precious cohesion. Occasionally, it attempts to make a listener out of my ear but I pay no attention. I have become part of this single conscious as I watch from my precarious lookout on the edge of the grey abyss.

I am sure that at these times I am able to hear the voices of the lost souls buried beneath this consecrated ground. My mind conjures up the grim melodies of The Last Post and I swear I can see tattered pale forms from the corner of my sight. I long to turn my head and gaze upon these hoary apparitions, but the firm caress of my leather chinstrap reminds me of the responsibilities of restraint that I hold dear, so I push away my tickling urges. An eye catches the light as the sun reappears and I know the others feel the same as I.

Time however must always pass and slowly the sounds of regularity and the smell of breakfast reawakens my physical needs. This darkened ground no longer calls to me and I feel alone once more as the feelings of my comrades drift out of reach, beckoning to me tantalisingly from a place in my mind that I cannot reach. A jerky action from my arm, a motion that I cannot remember commanding my brain to perform, indicates that I wish these comrades, my friends, to take their leave of the parade ground.

I know we will return, but until then I force my body to turn and leave this place of military worship. Choppy footsteps behind my retreating back tell me that many individuals have replaced the single entity that was present only seconds before. I hold in a frustrated sigh that threatens to break forth from soft lips. ‘Tomorrow,’ I remind myself. ‘We will return to our motherland.’