Choices #WritePhoto

a solitary figure on a beach against a wide ocean.

On the shore he wandered, lost in his own thoughts. With his head down, he watched the surf lapping at his boots. The sea would be cold, he knew but still he took his boots and socks off. There was just something irresistible about walking barefoot on the beach.

Socks in his pocket, boots in hand, he carried on walking. The sand was cool and the sea cold, but he liked the feeling in between his toes. He let his thoughts go off again, like the seagulls that took flight when he got too close.

The beach was empty at this time in the morning which was how he always liked it. He could be alone without people staring and trying to ask him questions about what happened to his body. Children called him a monster and parents would quickly drag them away.

I was fighting for this country, he wanted to say, a bomb fell on a house, I tried to save the innocent family trapped inside but the fire was too bad.

Unfortunately, he knew it wouldn’t matter. His words couldn’t change the effects of his actions across his skin. However, out here away from it all, nothing cared. The sand and sea couldn’t judge him, he could just be himself, alone with his thoughts and scars.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/06/06/thursday-photo-prompt-choices-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

 

 

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Reunion #TaleWeaver

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He stood on the beach alone, leaning on his walking sticks and staring out to sea. For the last few days the remembrance and celebration events had been going on and he had been reunited with some old friends. Still, he couldn’t believe it had been seventy-five years since he had first walked across this beach.

He could picture everything still; first light, the cold rough waves of the sea, first against the boats then against his legs as he struggled forward with his company. The heavy weight of his gun and pack. The bundle of nerves in his stomach and the twisting thoughts of what might lay in wait for him.

The sounds of machine guns and other weapons boomed out from the cliff tops creating a noise so deafening, it had never left his ears. He had only just been able to hear the orders to run forward, to take the beach. The sound of friendly fire was even louder then then enemies’ and so close it made him feel terrified.

The first soldiers got shot. The sea foam turned red and bodies bobbed in the water face down. More fell on the beach and were left behind as their pals ran onwards. Victory must be had! There would be time later to help the dead.

More and more men fell, the sea and sand seeming to be their final resting place. Everything turned red with blood, the cries of the dying and wounded came into competition with the gun noises. Bullets zipped this way and that, zinging through the air till the hit something.

He was no longer thinking, just acting on instinct and that’s why he didn’t really remember things. Everything seemed to blur into one. There was a body, there was a fallen gun, there was the sea behind him and the boats now awaiting them. He had seen so much but no words could ever describe it.

He had been nineteen. Just a boy. A boy who had wanted to do his bit to save his country. Make his parents proud and his sweetheart love him more. His teacher had said he should sign up, become a hero. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

He had never felt like a hero. Not even now.

‘The dead are the heroes!’ he had told one news reporter and he had meant it too.

 

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In memory of all those lost on D-Day.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2019/06/06/tale-weaver-226-reunion-june-6th/ with thanks).

Boots (Part 2)

Silhouette, Bokeh, Man, Out Of Focus, Fig, Bent, Black

The soft knocking on the door disturbed Faith. She rolled over, still half asleep and whacked her hand into the pillows on the other side of the bed. Moaning, she lay there for a few moments, but then the knocking got louder and she forced herself up.

‘Hello?’ she called in a tried voice.

‘It’s only me, Miss,’ the voice of Faith’s maid, Mary, called through the door.

‘Come in.’

The door creaked opened and the young woman shuffled in carrying a large jug. She was dressed in a typical black dress with a white frilled apron. Her dark hair was tied up under a white cap, allowing too much of her rosy face to be seen. Mary walked across the room and over to a bowl by the window. Tipping the jug gently, water splashed down and into the bowl. then placing the empty jug down, she moved to the wardrobe.

‘I heard something last night,’ Faith said as she slide from the bed, ‘it sounded like a man pacing the hallway. There seemed to be no one there though. You wouldn’t know anything about that would you?’

Mary paused in her search through Faith’s wardrobe, ‘So, you’ve heard him have you, Miss?’

‘Heard who?’ Faith snapped.

‘The ghost solider, Miss,’ Mary said.

Faith frowned then began washing her hands and face.

‘At least that’s what the Morgans use to call him,’ Mary added as she selected a morning dress of pale blue and white trim from the wardrobe.

‘I don’t believe in ghosts,’ Faith finally responded, ‘no, no, one of my walking dress, please.’

Faith waved the maid’s choice away then waited till she came back with a totally different dress; of lime green and black strips, before beginning to get dressed. Both women stayed silent throughout then leaving the maid to tidy the room, Faith went downstairs.

Walking into the dinning room, she found breakfast all laid out and awaiting her. Even though she didn’t feel like eating, Faith sat down and made herself a cup of tea. Sipping, she heard the grandmother clock chiming eight and the maid humming above her. With some light pouring in through the window, it felt easy to dismiss the boot steps of last night.

Nipping on some toast, Faith decided she had enough and went out for a walk. The fresh morning air really brought her back to her senses. The small village was all ready wide awake. Shops were getting ready to open and people were hurrying about. Faith walked passed the small church and out into the countryside.

The smell of grass and animals hung in the air, but Faith felt at home. She looped around the village, enjoying the warm sun and the birds flapping between the trees and hedgerows. Coming back into the village, she went into a tea shop and sat down to have some lunch.

‘Are you the new school teacher?’

Faith looked up at the waitress who had appeared with her tea and sandwiches, ‘Yes. I am.’

‘Am sure the Rector is delight you are here. He has been trying so hard to manage things since dear Mrs Pieton left us.’

‘I am sure he has been more then capable,’ Faith said as she arranged her napkin and hoped the girl got the hint to leave.

‘I heard you had brought the Morgan’s house. It’s haunted you know,’ the girl added.

Faith shot her a look, ‘I believe in no such things.’

The waitress bobbed and left her to her lunch.

Upon returning home, Faith found Mary in the study. The maid was emptying some of the books onto the shelves.

‘Good afternoon, Miss,’ Mary said, ‘I thought I would get started in here.’

‘It will take a long while to sort all my books and things,’ Faith added.

She walked over to her chair and sat down at her desk positioned under a window from which the front garden could be seen.

‘Would you like me to help you dress for the dinner you have tonight, Miss?’ Mary asked.

‘Dinner?’

‘Yes, at the Rector’s?’

‘Of course. No, we still have time. Mary…what else do you know about this…ghost?’ Faith asked.

Mary slipped the last book in her hand onto a shelf then turned to her, ‘they say he was a solider, who was wounded on a battlefield close to here. He walked in begging for help, but the villagers were all scared and no one would open their door.’

Faith tapped a pencil on the desk and looked thoughtfully at the maid.

‘This cottage was empty at the time. The family in Manchester. He broke in through the back door and fell in the hallway. When the family returned, they found him dead and decided they could no longer stay here. If that had happened to me I would have left too!’ Mary gasped.

‘Where is the proof though?’ Faith asked a few moments later, ‘was there anything in the papers? Any witnesses?’

‘No, Miss. It is believed the army covered it all up,’ Mary answered.

Faith sighed and looked out of the window. The summer’s day was really getting underway and she could see the flowers in the front garden waving in the breeze.

‘Please go and get my dress ready for tonight,’ Faith uttered, ‘I wish to read awhile in here before I get dressed.’

‘Very well, Miss,’ Mary replied.

Curtsying, the maid left the room quietly.

Faith turned and began searching through the boxes. She found one of only three books she owned on the science of the supernatural and took it back to her desk. Flipping through, she read a few passages about ghosts before Mary knocked on the door and requested if she was ready to dress.

 

To Be Continued….

 (Inspired byhttps://wordpress.com/read/feeds/34771988/posts/1062669023)

Least We Forget

Bill travelled back to France not knowing what he’d find or what memories would return. Sitting in his granddaughter Bethany’s bright purple car he looked out over the almost familiar countryside, trying to remember. The land had healed and changed since the First World War and Bill’s last visit in the mid-sixties with his wife and five children. He turned to his granddaughter and tried to tell her this, but his mouth was dry and wordless.

There were bottles of water in the carry bag by his feet. He lent forward and dug around for one with great difficult.

‘Are you okay, Granddad? Do you want me to stop?’ Bethany shouted, slowly and clear.

He turned his head, aware she was speaking but not quite catching her words.

She repeated what she had said, but Bill shook his head as his useless fingers finally found a plastic bottle. He pulled it out, showed it to her as explanation then tried to open the lid. He could barely feel the blue top under his fingertips and couldn’t get any grip at all. He shook the bottle in vain and embarrassed turned to Bethany.

She gave a single nod, indicated and pulled smoothly over. She took the bottle from him, easily opened it and handed it back, keeping the lid in her hand.

Bill gratefully drank from the bottle.

‘We’ve not got much further to go to the cemetery now,’ Beth spoke into his ear, ‘does any of this look familiar to you?’

Bill swallowed and looked around. His lips formed a few words, but his throat didn’t give sound to them. He tried again then shook his head and drank some more water.

‘What did we do with the cards?’ Beth asked and began digging around in the footwell at Bill’s feet.

She pulled out a plastic wallet full of large picture cards, ‘here there are. Okay, Granddad. Put your glasses on.’

Bill frowned and lend down, waiting for her repeat the instructions.

Beth picked up his glasses that were resting on the dashboard and helped Bill put them on. She took the bottle of water from him, screwing the cap back on and putting it down. She pulled out the cards and looked through them with Bill watching over her shoulder. She found the new ones she was looking for and passed him one that showed a picture of France. Bill looked at it closely and nodded, not sure what Beth meant as he knew where they were.

She put another one into his hands; a war cemetery. He nodded again as he looked at her. That was their destination. Beth shuffled the cards and found one that had two clock faces on it. She changed the first set of hands to show the time now and the second clock to show their time of arrival. She gave it to her granddad and received a nod from him after a few moments.

‘Do you really understand?’ she shouted.

‘Yes,’ he forced out in a stuttered whispery voice.

Beth held her hand out and he gave her the cards back. She put them away again then drove off. Bill stared at the French countryside, barely recalling marching through it with his unit. He tried to remember the faces and names, but it was too difficult now with the photographs and writings. Strangely, he could see the horses though and thought about trying to tell Beth about them, but it was too much effort.

The sign of the cemetery appeared and Beth pointed it out to him. She then turned in and parked up amongst lots of other cars. She got out and went to the boot. Bill watched her getting his wheelchair and bringing it over to him. Beth opened the door, undid his seatbelt and helped him into the chair.

She then wheeled him forward, so she could grab the cards and hand them to Bill. Closing and locking the car door, she wheeled him away as Bill quickly looked through the cards.

‘What is it, Granddad?’ she asked loudly.

He held up one of the new cards which showed a photo of a poppy wreath lying beside a white headstone. Bill felt Beth’s breath in his bald head and heard her cry a few faint, ‘oh!’ sound before she hurried back to the car. He turned and could just make out, his granddaughter opening the passenger door and leaning over to the back seats. She pulled out the wreath and brought it back to him.

‘There, Granddad,’ she said.

He nodded and they set off again. The cemetery was crowded with people waiting for the ceremony and it took them a good few minutes to get to where they needed to be. Beth placed Bill right at the front with the other wheelchair uses. He looked down the line and saw a handful of men in similar clothing to himself. The man who he was sat next to, Bill didn’t recognise, but Bill gave him a nod anyway.

He felt Beth’s hand on his shoulder and reached up to hold her fingers. Bill looked up at the massive wall of names before them and felt tears come into his eyes.

Postcard #4

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The Soldier’s Piano

 

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Boris was walking through deep woods with his troop when something strange caught his eye. He paused and aimed his rifle automatically. As his eyes adjusted to the distance, he thought it was a piece of furniture. He lowered the weapon and cast a look at the back of the soldier ahead of him. Private Coss was disappearing behind a tree, a stripe of cigarette smoke drifting behind him.

Lowering his gun even more, Boris slowly moved a few paces. He knew he should really be following Coss or else he should have pointed out the object. It was probably nothing, but back up was always useful. The enemy hadn’t seen or heard from in days. The rumour was that they had retreated back to the boarder. However, patrols like Boris’ still went out daily.

He carried on cautiously. His heavy and mud splattered boots crunching loudly on leaves and sticks. As he got closer, he saw it was a straight back piano. He stopped and shouldered the rifle. He turned and began stepping away. There was no threat from a musical instrument.

I wonder how it got there?

The thought caught him off guard and he twisted around. The piano stood silently with a small bird perched on top of it, which watched Boris curiously. Rearranging his gun, he marched up to the piano. The dark wood looked freshly varnished, but it was already showing signs of being exposed to the elements. As the bird took flight, Boris wandered around the piano and saw that there was no one hiding on the other side.

He strolled around again and slid the cover off the keys. They looked intact, just like the rest of the instrument. He doubt it would work or even been in tune. He chuckled and pulled up the rifle’s strap. He stretched out cold fingers and hovered them over some keys. It felt like a life time since he’d played.

He brought his fingers down and they struck the keys loudly. He jumped back, his heart racing at the sudden blast of sound in the quiet woods. Clutching his rifle, Boris looked around. A flock of birds had taken flight and were circling the sky. They called out to each other and then flapped out of sight. Running footsteps and hushed voices came from behind him and Boris readied the gun. From out of the tree line came Private Coss. His gun was in firing position. As they saw each other, they lowered their weapons.

‘What was that?’ Coss said in a low voice.

‘The piano,’ Boris replied, nodding towards it.

Another two men, who Boris recognised as Privates Ivchenko and Pokrovsky joined them. They scouted the area, moving in out of the trees like alert deer. The vibrations of the notes faded and Boris turned back to the piano. This time he touched the keys more slowly and gently. They played their softer notes and in perfect tune.

‘What’s it doing here?’ Coss asked coming to his side.

‘No idea. Must have been dumped,’ Boris answered.

He looked over the top, trying to see a house or smoke or car tracks in the mud. He saw nothing but trees and undisturbed ground. Somehow, he knew it hadn’t been there very long, but it was a mystery to how and why it had ended up here.

‘What’s that?’ a deep voice spoke from behind them.

‘A piano,’ Coss explained, with a glance over his shoulder at Ivchenko.

Boris’s fingers were still playing across the keys. Notes rippled out of the piano forming a familiar song. He didn’t realise he was doing so until Coss grabbed his hand. Boris shot him an anger look and then followed Coss line of sight. A stag had appeared at the edge of the clearing. Boris’s breath caught in his throat, he’d never seen the animal up close. Beside him, Coss was grabbing his gun and resting it against the piano.

‘Don’t,’ Boris whispered.

‘Why not?’ Ivchenko rumbled.

He forced his way between them and balanced his gun as well.

‘What’s going on?’ Pokrovsky called. ‘Is it the enemy?’

‘No. It’s a mighty stag. Biggest I’ve ever seen!’ Ivchenko hissed.

‘Let’s take it down together,’ Coss cut in.

‘I said no!’ Boris shouted and he pounded the piano.

A blast of notes shot up in the air, backed by gun fire. However, the stag had startled at Boris’ voice and had already jumped off. The bullets sunk harmlessly into the trunks of trees, but the piano’s notes carried on with their warning sound.

Ivchenko swung his gun and threw the butt into Boris’s face.

‘What the fuck did you do that for?’ he yelled.

Boris stumbled backwards, a hand rising to the side of his face. Ivchenko went to hit him again, but Coss grabbed the muzzle of the gun. Pokrovsky stepped between them, facing Ivchenko with his arms spread.

‘Stop, stop!’ he cried.

Pressing a hand to his face, Boris spat blood. He watched it fall on a crumbled leaf and then turned back to the other soldiers. The notes had faded away and the natural sounds of the woods had returned. Boris rubbed his jaw; it felt numb and swollen already. He tongued the cut inside his cheek and spat more blood.

‘Let’s get back,’ Coss said calmly.

He lowered Ivchenko’s gun, letting go. Mumbling and swearing under his breath, Ivchenko went to shoulder his rifle, but suddenly he took aim and fired. The shot deafened them and caused Coss and Pokrovsky to move backwards.

Boris held his ground and looked down. He expected blood to blossom across the khaki uniform and pain to rocket through him. When nothing happened he raised his head and observed the piano. A massive chunk had been ripped out of the side. Bits of wood and string lay across the ground and there was a dull groaning vibration coming from the instrument as if the piano was dying.

Boris glanced at Ivchenko, catching the look of satisfaction across the soldier’s face as he shouldered his rifle and turned away.