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    #1

    The Lieutenant, part one

    Please would you take a look and correct the mistakes in the first part of my short story, "The Lieutenant."

    My compulsory military service could not have started worse. I sat in a second-class compartment together with my three fellow conscripts in a train that should take us to the north part of the country, when after about 40 minutes the train came to a sudden halt. I looked out the window and saw we had stopped in the middle of nowhere. All I could see was a village in the distance and some cows grazing peacefully in the field. Such abrupt stops were not extraordinary. Sometimes people did not bother to travel to the next train station, and they would pull the emergency break and jump down before anyone could catch them.

    Minutes passed and then someone spread the rumour that a woman had thrown herself under the train. People started to alight and we joined them. It was a warm and sunny day and I could hear cicadas singing all around us. The smells of oil and grease were strong and tickled my nostrils. “There,” someone said and pointed with his hand towards the rail. I was just 19 years old and never before had I seen death so close. Along the rail and under the wheels, parts of human body and clothes had been mangled and mutilated beyond recognition. I saw something grey and gelatinous smeared on the rail and ballast I supposed it must have been her brain. As we continued to walk, we came to a bend from which she had jumped. A pair of brown high-heeled shoes and a beige bag stood neatly placed close to the rail. A sorrow welled up inside me and made me almost cry. It felt as if someone had punched me with full force in the stomach. She must have been a young woman, and I was asking myself what must have forced her into suicide. I glanced at my comrades and their faces told me that we shared the same feelings. We returned to our compartment and waited in sombre mood for the arrival of the police to examine the scene. An hour later, we were rolling again but we could not crack jokes or laugh.

    We arrived to our final destination in the afternoon, and were met by the two corporals and an officer. I looked around me and the scene made me feel lonely. The train station was an unattractive, grey building with the two simple platforms, which now were completely empty. Above the roofs of the houses towered high hills, their sides densely covered in fir and spruce trees. Patches of mist clung to the treetops and floated slowly away. The scene could have been from some romantic film had it not been for a pungent smell that prickled my nostrils and my eyes. “A hardboard factory, you’ll get use to it,” said one of the corporals.
    We walked on the pavement without meeting anyone. The only sign of life were two endless streams of cars, one to the south and the Adriatic Sea, and the other in the opposite direction to Italy and Austria. Some cars slowed down and their passengers stared curiously at us. They probably felt pity for us. They were going to spend a few beautiful weeks swimming in the sea, sailing and partying, while we were going to have the worst time of our lives, what with the long marches, drills, sentry duty and other military exercises. My thoughts went to my girlfriend, whom I was not going to see for months. We were so close to each other, and I had been more worrying how I was going to mange to live without her than how I was going to compete with military discipline. We walked by a few nondescript pubs and pizzerias and one of the corporals said, “Don’t go there. Solders are not welcome.”

    We arrived to the barracks, surrounded by a thick, grey, concrete wall. They cut our hair and gave us the uniforms, shoes, boots and other equipment, almost all of which were second hand. I was angry that just after an hour or two someone had stolen my shirt and t-shirt. We were eight in a room, and I wondered who the thief was. I knew I was never going to find out. In our socialist country, theft, embezzlement, corruption and bribery had become endemic and part of everyday life. People had not bothered anymore to report them to the police or other authorities.

    They gave us a few days respite until we took the oath to defend our land until the last drop of our blood and be ready to sacrifice our lives. I felt stupid repeating those words, and I was definitely not ready to sacrifice myself for some communist bigwigs, who lived like emperors at the expense of the ordinary citizens. In their spare time, they were shooting deer and bears and making lavishing parties, while ordinary workers struggled to make ends meet. Knowing how brainwashing was effective in my country, I was also aware that the majority of my fellow soldiers believed in these lies and were certainly ready to die defending the country. I wanted to shout aloud and tell them we were all the victims of manipulation and lies, but that would be my last words I ever uttered. I mumbled the solemn words, feeling like a traitor to myself.
    To be continued

  1. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The Lieutenant, part one

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    Please would you take a look and correct the mistakes in the first part of my short story, "The Lieutenant."

    My compulsory military service could not have started worse. I sat in a second-class compartment together with my three fellow conscripts in a train that should take us to the north part of the country, when after about 40 minutes the train came to a sudden halt. I looked out the window and saw we had stopped in the middle of nowhere. All I could see was a village in the distance and some cows grazing peacefully in the field. Such abrupt stops were not extraordinary. Sometimes people did not bother to travel to the next train station, and they would pull the emergency cord and jump down before anyone could catch them.

    Minutes passed and then someone spread the rumour that a woman had thrown herself under the train. People started to alight and we joined them. It was a warm and sunny day and I could hear cicadas chirping all around us. The smells of oil and grease were strong and tickled my nostrils. “There,” someone said and pointed with his hand towards the rail. I was just 19 years old and never before had I seen death so close. Along the rail and under the wheels, parts of a human body and clothes had been mangled and mutilated beyond recognition. I saw something grey and gelatinous smeared on the rail and ballast I supposed it must have been her brain. As we continued to walk, we came to a bend from which she had jumped. A pair of brown high-heeled shoes and a beige bag stood neatly placed close to the rail. A sorrow welled up inside me and made me almost cry. It felt as if someone had punched me with full force in the stomach. She must have been a young woman, and I was asking myself what must have forced her into suicide. I glanced at my comrades and their faces told me that we shared the same feelings. We returned to our compartment and waited in sombre mood for the arrival of the police to examine the scene. An hour later, we were rolling again but we could not crack jokes or laugh.
    More later.

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: The Lieutenant, part one

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post

    We arrived at our final destination in the afternoon, and were met by the two corporals and an officer. I looked around me and the scene made me feel lonely. The train station was an unattractive, grey building with the two simple platforms which were completely empty. Above the roofs of the houses towered high hills, their sides densely covered in fir and spruce trees. Patches of mist clung to the treetops and floated slowly away. The scene could have been from some romantic film had it not been for a pungent smell that prickled my nostrils and my eyes. “A hardboard factory, you’ll get used to it,” said one of the corporals.

    A soldier's life is a hard one.

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    #4

    Re: The Lieutenant, part one

    Tarheel,
    Thank you so much for correcting my mistakes and helping med with English.
    You are right. A soldier's life is not easy, and it was not easy for me either, especially at the beginning when I was inexperienced and knew almost nothing about real life and the people. But I am glad that I did it and do not see it as a waste of time. I had learnt how people can change just by changing the uniform and getting a rank.

  3. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: The Lieutenant, part one

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    We walked on the pavement without meeting anyone. The only sign of life was two endless streams of cars, one to the south and the Adriatic Sea, and the other in the opposite direction to Italy and Austria. Some cars slowed down and their passengers stared curiously at us. They probably felt pity for us. They were going to spend a few beautiful weeks swimming in the sea, sailing and partying, while we were going to have the worst time of our lives, what with the long marches, drills, sentry duty and other military exercises. My thoughts went to my girlfriend, who I was not going to see for months. We were very close to each other, and I had been worrying more about how I was going to manage to live without her than about how I was going to cope with military discipline. We walked by a few nondescript pubs and pizzerias and one of the corporals said, “Don’t go there. Solders are not welcome.”

    We arrived at the barracks, surrounded by a thick, grey, concrete wall. They cut our hair and gave us our uniforms, shoes, boots and other equipment, almost all of which were second hand. I was angry that just after an hour or two someone had stolen my shirt and t-shirt. We were eight in a room, and I wondered who the thief was. I knew I was never going to find out. In our socialist country, theft, embezzlement, corruption and bribery had become endemic and part of everyday life. People didn't bother anymore to report those crimes to the police or other authorities.

    They gave us a few days respite until we took the oath to defend our land until the last drop of our blood and be ready to sacrifice our lives. I felt stupid repeating those words, and I was definitely not ready to sacrifice myself for some communist bigwigs, who lived like emperors at the expense of the ordinary citizens. In their spare time, they were shooting deer and bears and having lavish parties, while ordinary workers struggled to make ends meet. Knowing how effective brainwashing was in my country, I was also aware that the majority of my fellow soldiers believed in those lies and were certainly ready to die defending the country. I wanted to shout loudly and tell them we were all the victims of manipulation and lies, but those would be my last words I ever uttered. I mumbled the solemn words, feeling like a traitor to myself.
    To be continued
    You are trying to get me depressed, aren't you?


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    #6

    Re: The Lieutenant, part one

    No Tarheel. I am just trying to picture the military service in my homeland in the 1980 when the Communist party still had a power, and people were made to believe in a dream which would never became reality. I am mostly interested in the inner life of my protagonists and how it collides with real life.

  4. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: The Lieutenant, part one

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    No Tarheel. I am just trying to picture the military service in my homeland in the 1980's when the Communist party still had a power, and people were made to believe in a dream which would never become reality. I am mostly interested in the inner life of my protagonists and how it collides with real life.
    If you use "could" there you mean it wasn't possible for it to happen. If you use "would" (as in the text) you mean that it wasn't going to happen. (I am not certain which you really intend.)

    (By the way, you take me too seriously sometimes. )

    Got to go!


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    #8

    Re: The Lieutenant, part one

    Thank you Tarheel.
    Honestly, I believed my story did make you depressive, and I immediately started to think what kind of more upbeat story I could write in the future. You know, when I was younger, I was more optimistic, but as time goes by, and I have not succeeded in my life, and almost all my plans have failed, I have become sombre Now I am just trying to live and understand myself.
    Regarding the sentence in the post above I think that the word "would" is more appropriate.

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    #9

    Re: The Lieutenant, part one

    The continuous sound made by cicadas is buzzing or humming, not chirping, which is short, high-pitched sound.

    Do you mean emergency brake when you say 'emergency break?

    Not a teacher

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    #10

    Re: The Lieutenant, part one

    tedmc,

    You really have a sharp mind.
    I have noticed now that I wrote wrongly emergency break instead of emergency brake. I am wondering if I could keep "cicadas singing" as I wrote from the very beginning in the text.

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