FFfAW : Silent Night

This week’s photo prompt is provided by Joy Pixley. Thank you Joy for our photo prompt this week!


 

Sam leaned back against the wall of sandbags, crossed his legs so the corrugated iron trench support no longer cut into the backs of his knees. The sun was setting, cool light diffused through the heavy mist. A few minutes only before shelling commenced. A few minutes. He reached onside his coat and pulled out the brass tin.

There was a the soft clatter of metal, the tramp and suck of boots in mud.

‘Here, mate.’

Gratefully, he held out his tin cup, watched the barely steaming liquid pour in. The tea might be water from a shell hole – undrinkable – but it would warm his fingers long enough for what he needed. Hugging the mug, feeling tingled painfully into his hands. He was ready.

Sam set aside the mug, ran his fingers over the tin lid, the raised decoration of swags and leaves bobbling against his skin. He always saved the image of the lady until last and though he could hardly see it in the dying light, he knew the curve of the neck, the sweep of hair resembled his Nancy.

He prised open the tin.

The folded letters sprang under his fingers, as if eager for his touch. He raised each to his face, unhaled the faint scent of rosewater, of her – of home. There were other treasures in the tin – a twist of string from the parcel she had sent the first Christmas of the war; a lock of her hair tied with the thinnest green ribbon.

Extraordinary hair, she had – gold, bronze, copper, all magical colours when the sunlight fell throught it. They’d spent days at the park before the war, lying on the grass, him mesmerised as he twisted the metallic strands through his fingers …

A shuffle of feet and a hand on his arm brought him back to the mud.

‘Come on, lad. It’s time.’

Sam closed the tin, tucked it back in his coat.

‘Merry Christmas, my sweetheart,’ he whispered.

The first bomb fell.

 


As this is way too long to qualify for FFfAW, it shouldn’t really be counted as such. But if you’d like to pop along and write a story inspired by the photograph or read the other tales, do pop along here.

The tin Sam treasures is one of the ‘Princess Mary gift boxes’, given to British soldiers at Christmas 1914. To read more about them, take a look here.

10 thoughts on “FFfAW : Silent Night

  1. A heartbreaking scene, made even more so by all the little touching details. What a terrible Christmas indeed — both then, and for those in the same position today.

    I never knew about the princess gift boxes, how interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Joy! Yes, hard to imagine just how awful it was for people, how much they endured. I learned about the gift boxes on a TV programme – many were filled with tobacco which we might not deem a good present now, but which brought a lot of comfort to the men back then. I don’t think the boxes were repeated through the rest of the war. But then people had thought the war would be ‘ver by Christmas’. Thanks for reading

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I read up on the boxes, and it’s interesting how they decided on different gifts for various types of people. I’m sure most of the soldiers appreciated the tobacco at the time. I imagine it would be even harder to think of gifts that most people would like now, given the great diversity in our military.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, very true. And we’re much more sensitive to the varied cultural make-up of our society now, which would make it tough to come up with something that wouldn’t be offensive to someone

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful story with such a sad ending. Very touching! This is longer than the challenge limit but since it is Christmas, I will allow this to go through for the challenge. I would like others to read it. Please link it to the story board when you get a chance. Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you Joy. Being busy with work and family, I was too late to add my story, but it was very kind of you to offer for me to share. Thanks for the kind words and hope you had a great Christmas 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderfully told story. Despite it being WWI. Thank goodness Sam had that Tin and the memories of his girl, to make it through the war. I hope!

    Liked by 1 person

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