This is the first part of my short story "The Volunteer," please would you proofread it.
That summer of 1991 was very strange. On the surface everything was almost as usual, the blue clear sky, the dazzling sun, the heat, the orchards bursting with ripening fruits and half-naked children playing on the streets. However, whenever I came out of my house I could hear the continues sound of artillery fire behind the hills, which reminded me of a distant thunder.
The war between Croats and Serbs was in full swing and the bother to Croatia not far away from out town and it felt bizarre that while we were living our ordinary lives, over the border the massive destruction and killing was talking place creating a living hell for the both sides in conflict. I did not know which side was using artillery, but I had an uneasy feeling knowing that every explosion meant that someone’s house, a school or factory had been destroyed. Someone could have been killed on the spot, maimed for life or writhing in pain without help.
The inhabitants of my town pretended that everything was as usual. They wanted to persuade themselves that they did not hear anything, did not listen to the radio, did not watch TV and did not see the scenes of carnage which were broadcast every evening like some kind of a pervert soap opera.
They would drink coffee in their beautiful gardens, have barbecue, play with their children or prune their roses and the sound behind the hills would remind them that they themselves and their families could one day meet the same tragedy as those poor people on the other side of the border. I would sit in my orchard, fill my lungs with the scents of lilac and jasmine, rest my eyes on the row upon row of fruit trees and ask myself why all our generations must experience war. My grandfather spent four years in muddy trenches in the First World War, my father fought in the Second World War and now soon it would be my turn.
I was anxious. I did not want to go and fight for anybody and any ideas and ideals. I did not want to lose my limbs or become a prisoner and died, brutally tortured. I did not care what our leaders said; I did not want to listen to their propaganda and spreading of hatred. Unfortunately, many men in my town had a different view.
The Serbs listened to their “great” leader Slobodan Milosevic as if he were a great saviour of Serbian nation. He promised them the great Serbia and encouraged them to participate in the war, and people followed him blindly and naively, simply because people in the Balkans had always followed their leaders, even if they led them to disaster.
That summer it was surreal to watch military vehicles covered in mud and dust passing men and women dressed only in swimsuits, wearing sandals on their feet. In the town centre I would meet the dirty and smelly solders, carrying their rifles, sweaty under their helmets and combat uniforms. I felt pity for them. When the war broke out they probably believed it would be a short campaign which would end within a few weeks, and now many months had passed and neither side was close to victory.
The only thing which was sure was the rising number of the killed, the maimed and the destroyed homes and factories.
The majority of these soldiers must have understood that they had been cheated, although they would never dare to desert the army, aware of the fact that they would be treated as traitors and receive long prison sentences. However, there must have been among them also the diehard nationalists ready to fight for decades if needed. Their hatred towards the other side was so intense that they did not feel fear, tiredness, or the elements. They wanted to fight until the last soldier on the other side was killed or captured and their families expelled from the country.
TO BE CONTINUED
Thank you very much for your time and your help. You have really helped me so much.
God bless you,