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).

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Sunflower #CCC

Sunflower Dead

Sunflowers remind me of her. I was twelve in 1940 and a London evacuee but countryside life didn’t agree with me. I was ill all the time and the farmer’s daughter, who was my age, looked after me.

One morning, she brought sunflowers fresh off the field to my sick bed.

‘They cheer anything up!’ she said, ‘sunflowers are my favourite.’

I agreed but it was her who cheered me the most, my first and last love.

We found each other after the War, married, children, a life together but now I putting sunflowers on her grave and she has returned to my memories.

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/02/20/crimsons-creative-challenge-15/ with thanks).

 

 

Crossing #WritePhoto

Something from my childhood came back into my mind as I walked across the stone foot bridge; ‘don’t trip or the witch will get you!’ I paused, hearing a memory of girls laughing. What was that about?

I shook it off and looked over the side of the bridge. A low, slow river was running under the three stone archways, making nice tinkling and bubbling music. The water was clear, thanks to the bright day and I could see a few weeds and plants caught in the current. There was no rubbish which strangely reminded me I was so far from London.

I breathed in the fragrant countryside air and tried hard to recall that memory. Something about going to school and me hating having my hair tied up in two pigtail plaits. Two girls in bright red dresses throwing stones into the water and shouting at the witch to appear.

It was all too faded to remember correctly. Resting against the cool stone, I let the flow of the water help me drift further into my memories. I had been seven when I had been evacuated from home. There was a war on and it was safe in the countryside then London because of the bombs. I didn’t really understand anything else at the time.

I was extremely lucky as my mother was heavily pregnant and also my brother was only one and half years old, so we got to stay together. The other children, I remember didn’t and they had to say goodbye to their mothers at the train station. Our other stroke of luck was that my father’s sister lived out here and she had agreed to take us in.

It was like going on holiday, mother had said and so it sort of was. Only, I had to go to a new school and make new friends which wasn’t that bad because I was so young. I missed my bedroom and our house though, sadly it got blown up in the Blitz but I didn’t know that until years later.

My cousin! That was the other girl in the red dress and she’d told me that about tripping on the bridge and a witch grabbing you.

I felt sadden I’d forgotten that but it had been so very long ago and Sarah had died a young teenager of scarlet fever. At the time, we had all ready been moved some years, to a large house on the edge of the village and daddy was back from the war and it was all over.

Hadn’t I cried for days when my parents had told me? I had gone to her funeral in red – her favorite color- instead of black like everyone else. I was thirteen or fourteen then. And just like when I was seven and I didn’t full understand the war or why we had to move away, I didn’t understand why Sarah was gone.

We moved back to London after that I think. Dad had secured a job there and we needed to be closer. Auntie came to live with us for awhile but I think the sadness of having no daughter and no husband – killed in France- got to her and she moved away.

Other thoughts tumbled into my mind, unlocked by all of this. It was strange to come back here and remember things I shouldn’t have forgotten. Maybe, it was best that they became forgotten once again though? I felt, that these memories had come back to me and I should do something with them.

‘Grandma!’ a voice called, breaking my thoughts.

I turned and saw my granddaughter, Hattie, running towards me. My daughter and husband following behind.

‘Don’t trip or the witch will get you!’ I said.

That made her stop and glance around, ‘witch? where?’ she questioned.

‘The one that lives under the bridge,’ I explained.

Hattie joined me and tried to look over the wall but she was too small.

‘She likes little girls the best,’ I carried on, not sure if I was making it up or if more was coming back to me, ‘she cooks them in her big pot and eats them with bread!’

Hattie pulled a face and shook her head, ‘I don’t believe you, grandma!’

I swooped down on her, making crackling witch like sounds. Hattie screamed then burst into laughter as I started tickling her and I remembered, a long, long time ago, two girls laughing and tickling each other on this bridge, joking about an old saying.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/07/05/thursday-photo-prompt-crossing-writephoto/ with thanks).

The Carousel

Carousel Horse

Sophia stared across the desolate French hamlet square. A light rain was falling softly, making the evening bleak and cold. She hugged herself and felt the old soft fur coat letting off a trickle of warmth. Sighing, she looked at the grimy windows of the small café behind her then upwards to the remains of a candy cane stripped cloth veranda.

A cat howled and she jumped. Her breath stuck in her throat and her eyes shot around the square. Sophia saw nothing but the boarded up empty shops and the abandoned carousel. Calming herself, she concentrated on the shadows of the horses lurking under their shelter. She counted to ten then checking the coast was clear, walked quickly over. The sound of her high heels tapping on the cobbles broke the returning silence.

Stopping just before the flat circle steps, she looked up at one of the wooden horses. The paint was badly chipped and peeling, yet some of the once bright whites, reds and gold still clung on. The horse’s face was frozen in terror and Sophia shied away from it.

Slowly walking around, she tried to ignore the other horses that all looked pained and scared. Coming to the back, she spotted what she was looking for. The bottom half of a fairy tale white and yellow carriage which sat in-between four horses. Picking up her coat and long skirt, she stepped up and felt the carousel creak underneath her. She paused to listen then reached out for a golden twisted pole and pulled herself up. She slipped into the carriage and sat down on the worn bench.

She couldn’t see much of the square from this angle, but she did feel safer and hidden. Arranging her dark red curly hair and fur hat, she tried not to think about what time it was. Of course, that question led her to wondering where he was, but she quickly dismissed it. Flatting her hat back on, she listened to the patting of the rain and the cracking of the carousel. Sophia lent back and shut her eyes. The sleepless nights were starting to catch up with her and all this trouble with the riots wasn’t helping.

She heard soft boot steps coming from across the square. Opening her eyes, Sophia froze. She watched a shadow separated itself from the others and dart under the café shop’s veranda where she had stood only minutes before. Was it the policeman doing his nightly rounds or a thief looking for food and things to sell? Maybe it was Sorel? God, please let it be him, Sophia prayed.

The figure began moving towards the carousel and Sophia watched the tall man wearing a trench coat come to a pause before the horses. Without realizing it, she had sunk down and was peering nervously over the edge of the carriage. The footsteps picked up again, making their way around. Sophia pulled down her hat, thoughts zipping through her mind.

A soft voice called out her name and she looked up. Sorel was looking down at her with his fingers touching the lip of his top hat. Sophia sat up, her face blossoming into life.

‘My love!’ Sorel cried and jumped onto the steps.

The carousel rocked and they both grabbed what they could. Then Sorel was stumbling into the carriage and landing heavily on his knees.

A startle of French words tumbled from Sophia’s lips and she hurried to help him up. Her fingers slipped over his leather coat before finding his warm wrist.

‘I’m fine, Angel, fine,’ Sorel’s voice whispered.

He pulled himself up and sat beside her, grabbing Sophia into a damp hug.

‘I was so worried,’ she breathed into his neck.

‘Don’t be. Everything is fine,’ Sorel replied and stroked her hair.

‘I hate meeting here,’ she added.

‘It’s the best place, until the war is over.’

‘I know, but still…’

‘Hush now,’ Sorel breathed and kissed her gently on the lips.

Sophia let out a shaky gasp then pressed her face into his.

‘Let’s forget about everything and just be in this moment, Angel,’ Sorel uttered against her lips.

‘Yes, my love,’ Sophia replied and kissed him again.

The night rolled silently in, cocooning the lovers as they held each other tightly in the carousel carriage.