A Hundred Year Wait – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. It asks us to write a piece of fiction from the photo prompt provided in around 100-150 words – give or take 25 words. It encourages us to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the above link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Tuesday to Tuesday every week.

This is the prompt, kindly provided by Ady . . .

photo-20160208115053605

. . . and this is my story:

A Hundred Year Wait

Light-headed and disoriented, Albert drifted through the park he’d once known so well, struggling to understand why he was here at all. The colourful bench confused him further, posturing shamelessly where the old one had once reigned. He’d sat here so often with his pretty young wife . . .

‘Don’t go!’ Mary begged, grasping his hand. ‘We’ll run away… go to Scotland. They’d never find us there!’  But they would have done, and he’d have been shot at dawn . . .

The shrill whistle pierced Alfred to the core. He clasped his bayoneted rifle, scrambling ‘over the top’ of the trench’s parapet into No Man’s Land below. Enemy shells exploded; a volley of machine gun fire rang out: men fell to the quagmire’s embrace.

Albert sank into the comforting mud, knowing he’d never see Mary again. The Somme Offensive had claimed him: July 1st, 1916 . . .

A shadowy shape materialised on the bench. ‘Sit with me,’ Mary urged, beckoning. ‘I’ve waited a hundred years to see you, my love. I knew you’d return today.’

*

Word Count: 175

If you’d like to read other entries, or add a story yourself, click on the little blue frog:

Note about WW1:

July 28th, 2016 marks one hundred and two years since the start of the war that was once dubbed ‘the war to end all wars’. Unfortunately, too may wars since then has long since proven that to be false. In Britain, the war was originally known as ‘The Great War’, but is now variously called  ‘The First World War’ or simply ‘World War One’ (or WW1).

War started in 1914, and word soon spread that it would ‘all be over by Christmas’. Such optimism was soon found to be erroneous: it lasted four long years.

The Battle of the Somme – also known as the Somme Offensive  was fought by British and French troups against the German Empire on either side of the River Somme, in France. It lasted from July 1st – November 18th, 1916, and was one of the longest battles of the First World War. More that a million men were wounded or killed. It has become known as one of the ‘bloodiest battles in human history’. On the first day alone, (July1st) 58, 786 British, 49,859 French and 103,000 German soldiers died.

There are too many aspests of trench warfare for me to talk about here – and this is not a post to explain why trenches were dug and used as they were.  Anyone interested can easily look this up for themselves. All I can say is that I agree with Wikipedia’s estimation of it:

Trench warfare is associated with mass slaughter in appalling conditions‘.

No Man’s Land was the name given to the land between the trenches of the opposing forces. It soon became a desolate area: all trees and other vegetation were destroyed by the  constant bombardment:

A French trench in NE France. Author: Bain News service. Public Domain.

A French trench in NE France. Author: Bain News service. Public Domain.

The shell fire of both sides left the area riddled with craters which, after periods of heavy rain, became filled with water. The land came to resemble a quagmire – a stretch of thick, muddy land that resembled a bog:

Stretcher bearers at the Battle of Passchendale. August 1917. Author: John Warwick Brooke. Public Domain.

Stretcher bearers at the Battle of Passchendale. August 1917. Author: John Warwick Brooke. Public Domain.

About milliethom

I am a reader and writer of historical fiction with a keen interest in the Earth's history and all it involves, both physically and socially. I like nothing better than to be outdoors, especially in faraway places, and baking is something I do when my eyes need respite from my computer screen.
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89 Responses to A Hundred Year Wait – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

  1. Antonia says:

    What a lovely and heartfelt story Millie!

  2. Joy Pixley says:

    Oh, that one made me cry! But in a good way. Very touching, that they can sit together again, after all this time apart.

    • milliethom says:

      Hi Joy. Thanks for that. I struggled to find a story for this one. The ‘ghosty’ thing came into my head as soon as I saw the pompt and lodged itself so securely I couldn’t think of anything else. I’ll be checking out other stories tomorrow – it’s getting a bit late here now.

      • Joy Pixley says:

        I couldn’t think of anything to go with the prompt this time. So instead I wrote what happened next with Anqearo and the other explorers in that dangerous tomb they were about to open (from “Grave Warning”). That was fun. 😉

      • milliethom says:

        I remember that story! I’ll come and read the next episode tomorrow! 🙂

  3. EagleAye says:

    That’s a beautiful story. They are but one couple of many that ended up meeting again this way, I imagine. Good love story!

  4. Terrific story. My Great Grandfather died in the second Battle of the Somme so I found it particularly touching.

  5. Millie, this is fantastic! Albert had died in the war and when Mary died, he came to meet her at their bench. So sweet, and yet so sad. I heard that World War I had the most casualties of any war in history. I agree with you and Wikipedia. Wonderful footnote information!

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Griff! I had to think for a while about what to write for this prompt. The bench itself didn’t inspire me, so I had to transport it to a past time. Hope your writing is going well. I’ve had a blogging break recently, and am just catching up with my blog. 🙂

  6. A silent bench could be the home to so many timeless stories. I absolutely loved this, Millie. While keeping it real and factual, you explored fantasy in the most beautiful manner.
    And we just hope that those horrors and so many more of them happening in half of the world, never repeat themselves.

    • milliethom says:

      Wars are horrendous things, Prateek, and so many of us share your hope that the world should see no more. WW1 was a dreadful war – such loss of life can hardly be comprehended. I shudder when I think about the horrors of trench warfare. I’ve had to teach it so many times, so I could probably write a book about it. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment about my story. I’ll pop over and check out your recent posts tomorrow. 🙂

      • It is dreadfully funny that even when everyone believes so, the world is at war.
        And a good night to you, my friend. 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        Yes, the world seems to be permanently at war. As you say, it’s hard to understand that when everyone is crying out for peace. I suppose there are so many causes of war… power, greed (money!) religion, poltics probably being the main ones. Humans are never satisfied with what they already have. 🙂

  7. Knowing a little about all this I did like the phrase ‘quagmire’s embrace’…..such a lovely tale Millie, there must have been thousands of wives and family who never heard of their loved ones again during this war…..which by the way gave rise to the best oxymoron of all – military intelligence…

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you for taht great comment, Michael. I know many Australian, Canadian, Russian and American soldiers were involved in this awful war, too. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see any casualty figures on the quick glance at sites that I made. It certainly was a ‘world’ war. Yes, ‘military intelligence’ had a lot to answer for.

  8. DG MARYOGA says:

    Congrats,dear Millie!You have developed a fascinating story,you have so efficiently entwined history and sentiments beyond the ordinary.The footnote strongly supported your moving story.Hope your time away from WP was creative and that you organised your writing stuff as you expected.Enjoy a sunny weekend 🙂 ~ I reckon that Imogen has gone now;its furious attacks were absolutely dreadful.

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you for the lovely comment about my story, Doda. I did have a productive break from blogging, but my book still has a long way t go before completion. I’ll prbably just ‘slow down’ on my blogging for a while now an see how that goes. Storm Imogen has moved on, thankfully. Some areas of the UK were badly affected but around here (Notts-Lincs area) it wasn’t too bad – just stronger than usual winds. 🙂

      • DG MARYOGA says:

        I can understand that writing a quality book is very demanding and it takes a lot of time.As I can understand,the one you’re working on,right now,is the third of a trilogy.Are they strictly connected?I’ll find a quiet moment and have a look to understand more about them.Do you blend English history with stories of your own,or is it plain history?Now,that I am connected with you,I would love to buy you work,it will make me proud 🙂 xxx

      • milliethom says:

        My books are historical fiction, Doda. They are definitely fiction, so the storyline is created by me. But any documented historical facts can’t be changed, of course. My books have both fictional and historical characters in them, and I can make up whatever I like about the fictional ones. But I have to keep all historical dates and events etc. correct.
        My main historical character is King Alfred (Alfred the Great). As my books are set in the 9th century, there is far less documented evidence about Alfred’s personal life, his appearance and so on, as there is for historical figures of a later date. So much of that has been up to me to fabricate.
        My books are on Amazon, as eBooks and in print, Doda. Book 1 (Shadow of the Raven) will be free on Amazon on February 20 and 21, if you’d like to have a look. You may find the Anglo Saxon names confusing until you get used to them. There is a list of characters at the front if you need to keep looking back.
        I can’t thank you enough for the praise you’ve given me here. That you’re interested in my writing is wonderful to hear! Much love and man thanks! 😀 ❤

      • DG MARYOGA says:

        That’s what I suspected,the historical events interwoven with your fictional stories,which means that the reader brushes up their knowledge on history while at the same time they read for pleasure.It’s a wonderful genre,it includes both fiction and non-fiction.Thank you for all the info,I’ll check everything out and when I am more relaxed I will go on and let you know about it.I have bought some of other blogging friends,and it’s not only because I like their writing stuff,poetry or prose,but also because I like their personality as well.Much love back to you 🙂 xxx

      • milliethom says:

        Thank yo so much, Doda! As I said, the book will be free this weekend – always a good idea, in case the book doesn’t suit you. But yes, you will find a lot about the Viking way of life in Book 1. 😀

      • DG MARYOGA says:

        Lovely,dear Millie!I’m sure I’ll enjoy your books,I love your writing style!I do hope that your book will get the success it deserves.Best of luck,my friend 🙂 xxx

      • milliethom says:

        Thank you for the lovely compliment, Doda. I really hope you enjoy my book!

      • DG MARYOGA says:

        My pleasure,dear Millie.I think I’ll 🙂 xxx

  9. Very powerful story, Millie…sad too, but also quite lovely. Both World Wars…very heavy indeed, black marks upon the report card of the human race. Great reading, thanks for sharing!

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you, L.T. For some reason this was the only way my brain headed for this prompt. One of the ‘hazards’ of liking history so much, I suppose. And yes, the human race never seems to learn when it comes to wars.
      I’ve been ‘off’ my blog for a few weeks and came back a week ago. I needed to focus on my writing for a while, without other distractions. I just popped back for an odd day or so and I’m still here! I do get tempted into writing posts, so staying off completely is the best way for me. I did miss it, though.
      I’ll be hopping over to do a bit of catching up on our posts, too, sometime over the weekend. Hope your writing is going well, too. 🙂

      • Millie, I know what you mean..I really need to do some writing too but would have to stop posting things..I’m not sure. ..or maybe sleep less, ha ha. I hope your writing is also progressing well 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        I managed to write a fair bit in the three weeks I ignored my blog. But I really missed it – the blog, I mean. Blogging and reading posts becomes a habit…so addictive. I will have to leave it again for a short while soon. I haven’t written a thing since coming back to Blogland! I hope to pop over to read a couple of your posts, too. Today I’ve spent more time reading and commenting on other stories on the flash fiction challenge. I do think that’s important when you participate in challenges, but it is time consuming. 🙂

      • Yes it is…just reading and commenting on blogs is time consuming. I enjoy it all too, and really look forward to reading the blogs I follow. .but it is so hard trying to stay current. If only there was more time in the day 😦

  10. draliman says:

    Lovely story, reunited at last! Thanks for the little bit of history too 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you for that lovely comment, Ali. This was really the only idea I could come up with for the prompt – but hey, anything goes, right? I love the period of the First World War, and would like to write a novel set at that time. There was so much going on – including all the suffragette movements etc. 🙂

  11. anroworld says:

    Lovely story, Millie, so profound!

  12. smilecalm says:

    courageous reflection
    bringing awareness
    to human potential 🙂

  13. Not an obvious story from the prompt. but lovely, touching and sad but happy too 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Bekki. This was the only story that kept coming to mind for this propmt, so I thought I’d better just get it written. 🙂 I can’t say the red and white bench inspired me a great deal at all. And it doesn’t take much to make me focus on something historical. 🙂

      • I meant I was impressed you got it from the prompt – hope it sounded that way. Maybe the story was the only one that came because you needed to write it 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        I miss writing flash fiction more than anything else on my blog, Bekki – apart from reading great posts. As for my story, I really love the whole period on the First World War. I taught about it for many years, including topics like Women and the Vote. A lot went on between the late 19th century and 1918. (Much of it was depressing, unfortunately!) 🙂

      • I think the great thing about blogging is that it evolves. So I guess if you love flash fiction best that’s the think to work more on?

      • milliethom says:

        I like the flash because it’s writing – and creative. I do love my historical/travel posts, and my traditions and customs, too, but creating stories is something I love. I’ll keep all three going or my blog because I like the variety. But I often find it difficult to resist the prompts, even when I’m pushed for time.

  14. cynthiamvoss says:

    Very emotional, what a lovely and sad tale.

  15. Oh my! such a heartfelt and beautiful story, Millie 🙂

  16. Lina says:

    Such a touching story! Loved the ending! So is he dead?

  17. It is good to know the two met again in the afterlife. They are happy together now.

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Ineke. I don’t write too many ‘ghost’ stories, so this made a nice change for me. 🙂

      • It was an excellent change! Gives you perspective again on the real writing.

      • milliethom says:

        I’ve really missed writing flash fiction, Ineke. I’ve only written three since last October! I wouldn’t mind dropping it if I could say with all honesty that my book is almost finished. Unfortunately, I still have some way to go. I’ll just keep doing waht I can. It will be finished some time this year, Ill make sure of that. 🙂

      • I also force myself to get back into writing each week. It helps to keep the “old” brain going isn’t it! I thought of quieting my Friday writing class at the library but the ladies said I can’t do that they enjoy my writing every week . So, I’ll go on again. It’s also for being social otherwise my language usage will fade away.

      • milliethom says:

        We all need to keep up social activities, otherwise we become recluses – as so many writers do. I wish we had a writing group near here that I could go to. I’m sure your group would miss you – and it’s good for you to have feedback on your writing. Your group members obviously enjoy reading it!

      • I also love to listen to all their stories too. It is all about your own life experiences. Everybody has things they can relate to when writing about their own life. It also brings back memories of your own past when you hear about others stories.

      • milliethom says:

        I can imagine you reminiscing about SA. Have you written about those wonderful kazoo trees?

      • Done lots of stories. This is year no 4 I am doing it! My afrikaans ebook has all my SA adventures in it.

  18. Millie, for some reason I have just noticed my comment yesterday did not connect through. I have been having hassles with my computer and the internet lately so that must be why.
    But, what a great story, I really wanted to read more. Millie, you have a wealth of knowledge and are such a good writer. What a beautiful gift to have 🙂
    I will look into the other stories 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you, Lynne! What a wonderful comment. I adore history, so I tend to head off in that direction with a lot of my flash fiction posts. With this story, I could have extended it so much, but we have to keep to the word limit. 😦 These challenges are really fun to do! 😀

  19. Lovely and touching story Millie!

  20. Gosh! And we still haven’t learnt to live and let others live.
    Power is indeed intoxicating, unfortunately it’s the foot soldiers that die.
    Great story Millie and information too.

  21. A very touching and lovely story 🙂 And I love it how you blended history so well, giving all the true vibes to the story 🙂

  22. nowathome says:

    Very touching story! So many people were in that situation! ( I don’t know how I missed this one)

  23. Heartafire says:

    War is horrendous, trench warfare a nightmare, thank you for the reminder of what war is really like, we forget sometimes that human beings must fight wars, it’s not just flashes on the evening news.

    • milliethom says:

      It’s a harrowing thought that wars are still going on today, and that mankind never learns its lesson. So many deaths are hard to comprehend. Thank you for reading my story, Holly.
      (I had a blogging break for a few weeks after Christmas, so I’m very behind with visiting blogs I like. But I’ll be over to read some of your posts before I go back to my writing.) 🙂

  24. ChristineR says:

    Our War memorial site says that an average of 38 died each day of the actual war (59,357). Like Great Britain, we had massive causalities in the Dardanelles. Rob’s grandfather got injured in the first days of madness and came home minus a leg. One of the lucky ones.

    You wrote a poignant tale, Millie.

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Christine. I didn’t see figures for Australian and Canadian casualties on the sites I used – but, I admit, I was trying to be quick. I have a ‘thing’ about WW1. I find the whole idea of it quite distressing. It was a horrible war, and the death toll was beyond imagining. I don’t know as much about what happened in Gallipoli or the Dardanelles, but I intend to look both of them up (when I find time!). Sorry to hear about Rob’s grandfather. I imagine the loss of limbs was common – but that doesn’t make it any the less horrific, does it?

  25. inesephoto says:

    Beautiful story, and a somber reminder of the realities of war. Thank you for sharing.

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