At the 11th hour …

She sits in the parlour, hands neatly clasped, noises outside remote.  Like echoes from a distant place.

The door opens.

“Coming?  The whole street’s out there.  Celebrating.”

She shakes her head.  Tries to smile.

“You go.”

He hesitates, steps towards his mother.  She waves him away.

“I’d prefer to stay here.  With my thoughts.  With the other two.”

He nods, wants to kiss her cheek, but is afraid he might cry.  A grown man crying.  After what he has seen.  Survived.

Outside, jubilant cheers grow.

“Arthur,” she murmurs.  “And Gordon.  My sons.  My lost boys.”

“Their duty,” he says mechanically, “they did …”

But the word implodes, like an unexploded shell.

“Wasted lives,” she says.  “The futility of it.”

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Jude – thanks for this! I’m still pondering the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 a few days ago. Seems to me the best way we can honour the young men who gave their lives in the trenches is to avoid it happening again. When I hear people promoting nationalism or nativism, saying we need to put “our country” or “our people” first, I wonder if they know the set of attitudes and values which fuelled WW1 and whether they’ve given any thought to how we might slide down the same path again (except of course this time with weapons even more terrible). I wonder if they’ve considered that “putting our people first” or “making our nation great again” – such seductive memes – tend to achieve the very opposite because they bounce right back.
    Let’s remember the set of values which misled these brave young men to their unnecessary deaths and vow to reject them.

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