My grandfather was odd, shell-shocked. I loved sitting on his knee, sniffing and staring as he managed to chew mints and puff a pipe in the same breath. He never spoke of the “Great War” but I wear a Poppy in honour because it is easier than remembering my son.
Dedicated to education and being a father, E. F. S. Byrne has finally found more time to devote to his writing and is currently working on everything from very short flash stories to full-length novels. Samples and links to over thirty published stories can be read at efsbyrne.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter at @efsbyrne
One afternoon together, after 412 days apart. If only we could stretch these hours to days, weeks even, maybe then we’d relax enough to find the right words to talk about my war at home, his war away.
Instead we part, saying a stilted goodbye, before he boards the train.
Laura Besley writes short fiction in the precious moments that her children are asleep. Her debut flash fiction collection, The Almost Mothers, will be published in 2020 by Dahlia Books. She tweets at @laurabesley.
The order has arrived. There’s Hastings, sitting in a corner stroking his lucky rabbit’s foot. Cranston, his eyes closed, intoning the Rosary. Others praying under their breath, crossing themselves. Superstitious fools!
Suddenly a whistle shrills.
I check my watch. Thirteen hundred hours. I’m enveloped by a dark sense of foreboding.
David McTigue is from Liverpool UK who writes to fight his inner demons.
“Je t’aime,” the young soldier declared to the farmgirl in German-inflected French as they strolled hand-in-hand through peaceable pastures. “I love your smile. Your eyes. Your lovely long hair…”
But she couldn’t forget her neighbors’ wrathful warning: “Someday we’ll drive out the pigs. Then we’ll come for you with shears.”
Alex Markovich is old enough to remember World War II.
Sailor’s arms beneath tobacco-scented cardigans. Milky eyes like moonlit skies, staring as though I was the finest thing on Earth.
But when he wore the hat, for memorials or military functions, he became a ghost.
I wondered what that hat had seen, to make him quiver like a frightened child.
Jo Withers writes micros, flash, and poetry from her home in South Australia. Recent work has featured or is forthcoming in Molotov Cocktail, Ellipsis Zine, Spelk, Bath Flash Anthology, and Milk Candy Review.
He spoke only of the lighter moments.
Like when the weapons instructor asked, “What’s the definition of fine sight?” And a rookie’s quip, “Two dinners on one plate, sir.”
Or the drill sergeant’s caustic, “Bradley’s the only man in step!”
The rest lay buried, like the bodies of the fallen.
Originally from Belfast, Joan Skura has lived in Toronto for many happy years, but still can’t come up with a half-decent bio.
Fighting for country, fighting for principles. Someone’s child, showing determination to sacrifice and make a difference.
Perhaps, long ago, a gardener who loved the colors of fall. Perhaps a devoted parent, raising kind-hearted children. Perhaps a teacher, leading young minds toward wisdom.
Now, known but to God.
The Unknown Soldier.
Sandra Siegienski enjoys writing science fiction/fantasy and young adult fiction. Her focus ranges from novels to six-word story contests.
Sadly, War Veteran Terry Smith (no fixed abode) died last Friday.
Terry was a treasured personality, singing for a dollar outside the Town Hall as he begged for “Bread and Broth.”
Locals will be pleased to hear $20,000 has been allocated from council funds for a statue in his honour.
Jo Withers writes poetry, flash and the occasional novel from her home in South Australia.
We were soldiers of innocence at the rally point. Raging against real enemies in pretend combat. Holly berry bullets and stolen kisses in oak tree forts. Fighting the good fight, we sought redemption in afternoon light.
Then you left to fight a greater war.
I still wait for your return.
Katherine Rocheleau is a full-time writer, part-time vampire slayer, and hopeless chocoholic.
Who knows why I even bother, but I inform every army that the rented siege weapons must be returned in the same condition if they want their deposit.
“Of course!” they all say.
Then they haul back a pile of splintered wood and mangled metal, assuming they return at all.
Iain Young found a two-for-one discount in his mail. He’s wondering how he got on that mailing list.