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.