Friday Fictioneers : 31st July 1917

PHOTO PROMPT © Marie Gail Stratford


 

Dolly stared into the trug at the faded rose heads, their sepals turned back like neatly folded wrapping paper showing presents of fluff and seeds.

‘Only a little more to do,’ said Mrs Galston.

Being in the garden suited the Missus. Despite the expanse of her straw picture hat, she’d always bronze a little, as if the sun had snuck under her skin and couldn’t help but glow at its own cleverness.

Dolly was the first to see the telegram boy walking straight and stiff towards them, a dark blue shadow falling across the golden afternoon.

So many fallen blooms.


 

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the prompt and spin a tale and don’t forget to share, read and comment. See here to join in.

Historical notes

The 31st of July 1917 was the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as Passchendaele. To learn more about the battle see here.

In the UK at this time and later, telegram boys wore a dark blue uniform, as can be seen in the image on the far left below.

Image result for edwardian telegram boy

A Blighty One

167 08 August 7th 2016

 

Bertie never talked about the trenches.

He’d watch those grieving mothers in widows weeds look askance when they passed an office-Johnny in the street. Their eyes cried out, wanting to understand why this man walked untouched while their Tommy was just a name on the town memorial – no stone, no coffin, no grassy patch to lay violets come the Spring. These perfect men had shuffled important papers, made decisions that liberated Antwerp, won back Messines and Passchendaele. But though their bodies were intact, their pride took a beating – every sideways glance a punch, every insinuating conversation a sabre to the heart.

No such worries for Bertie. The withered arm, heavy as a sandbag, was sign enough.

This man did his bit. This man was comrade to our lost boys.

Though he accepted the shy kisses from the women, the grateful handshakes from the old men, he kept the secret of his Blighty one*.

The game of poker in a moonlit trench. The aces tucked in his puttees. Angry words and fists thrown.

A sniper’s shot.

No, even though guilt gnawed like rats in his chest, he never told.

The world needs heroes.


Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction prompt. See here for the rules and to read the other stories.

* To have a ‘Blighty one’ meant to gain an injury that involved being sent back home to Blighty (Britain) and away from the trenches, either for treatment – or if the injury was bad enough to stop you fighting – for good.