Friday Fictioneers : The bright and shining days

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll


 

Whole village would go up to the big house each Christmas. Mr Gregory would bundle the kiddies in the haycart, the adults following on behind in best suits and hats, all brushed and buffed. There’d be plenty to eat, hams and cakes and the like, beer for the men and port wine for the ladies. Proper bright and shining days.

Then war broke. And there were no men to drink the beer. Poor Mr Gregory passed on the first day of the Somme, both his boys too, though one was underage.

Oh for those bright and shining days back.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the prompt photo and tell a tale. Visit here to join in and to read the other stories.

 

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.