Friday, 11 May 2012

#FridayFlash - The War

I dreamed of the bombers again last night. Their steady drone filled the air, and orange flames tore open the skies. I woke up with my hands clamped against my ears, fighting to block out the banshee wail of the sirens. I thought I smelled the damp earth of the shelter, and I expected to see my mother bent over me. But my eyes adjusted to the gloom and made out the pink floral wallpaper and old wooden dressing table.

I lay in the darkness, waiting for my breathing to slow. Sirens still screamed in the street, like the perverse nocturnal mating call of the police. Fire tore open the world, but these flames came from the hands of youths, and the glass bottles they wielded.

I switched on the radio, hoping to block out the sounds of violence. Baton on bone, fist on flesh. I burrowed into the strains of Chopin, leaving behind the cacophony of war. Not my war, not back in the good old days when the baddies hid in castles on the continent and we fought over decency and common sense. No, this war is alien to me, fought between citizens on the same side. Or what used to be the same side.

I sniff back a tear. I never thought I would be nostalgic for that old Anderson shelter at the bottom of the garden. I loved the old boy, until he left for France and never came back, but in a way, I'm glad my dad isn't here.

It would kill him all over again to see what's become of the country he died to protect.

28 comments:

Tony Noland said...

Internal struggles are so much more painful than external enemies.

pegjet said...

Why wars feel so pointless. Startling, strong images and emotions in this piece.

afullnessinbrevity said...

Deft weaving of layers of the war and its effect.
Adam B @revhappiness

ganymeder said...

Powerful stuff.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Tony - They're a lot harder to cope with, too.

Peg - Ultimately they solve nothing.

Adam - Thanks.

Cathy - Makes a bit of a change for me, I think.

jackkholt said...

Powerful, and sadly all too real. Nice work as always, Icy.

John Wiswell said...

"baton on bone" is a highly unsettling alliteration. Yeeek!

Tim VanSant Writes said...

Nice reflection on the senselessness of conflict. And I agree with John about "baton on bone" too -- that really caught my attention.

Sylvia van Bruggen said...

very disconcerting and strong.

Michael Tate said...

Piggybacking on my comment to your previous blog post about the length of flash, this has a great power to word ratio.

Well done.

JC Rosen said...

PTSD is hard to shake in the best of circumstances. These definitely weren't the best. I found this unnerving and real. Well done as always, Icy. Thanks.

Take care,
JC

flyingscribbler said...

I'm with John and Tim: baton on one and fist on flesh are superb word choices for their alliteration and potency. Hard, fierce words for a hard, fierce situation. I'm sure there will be many novels and stories about last summer's riots in the years to come. Sadly.

Richard Bon said...

One of my favorites from you, Icy. Well written with a poignant message.

Natalie Bowers said...

A very strong story. So sad. It brought clearly to mind the riots of last summer and the thoughts that must have been in so many people's minds. Nicely done.

Steve Green said...

Strong writing.

The last line would ring so true to so many of our past soldiers. The thuggery and riots of today would be an alien concept to them too.

Larry Kollar said...

I remember seeing (on TV) and hearing (on the radio) about riots in the 60s. The strongest memory is the Martin Luther King Jr. funeral, when violence broke out during the live coverage. My dad, with this resigned tone I rarely heard, said, "There go the hardcores." Great job of bringing back memories, both old (for me) and recent (for your countrymen).

Aidan Fritz said...

I like the contrast between Chopin and the violence. For some reason, this also reminded me of the zombies. It must be my paranoia.

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

I liked this. I've never read much flash fiction before, but I think you did a great job capturing a moment and giving it a meaning, all in a few short paragraphs.

Helen said...

You captured the torment of the uselessness of war fought on city streets, to achieve usually very little. Nice strong piece Icy.

Craig Smith said...

Strong writing. I could feel the character reliving those memories.

daniellelapaglia said...

I especially love the first paragraph. You have way with pulling all the senses together to put the reader in the moment with the characters.

Katherine Hajer said...

This reminds me of my ex-mother-in-law, who would crank up the TV during every holiday involving fireworks. During the war she gave up on going to the shelter in the middle of every night and just slept out there until the bombings ended. She wasn't always against protesting per se, but I'm pretty sure I know what she'd say about the most recent riots.

Sonya Clark said...

Excellent as always! I especially liked this line: "Sirens still screamed in the street, like the perverse nocturnal mating call of the police."

Icy Sedgwick said...

I'm glad everyone liked this. I don't know why it would suddenly spew out of my unconscious this week but meh, I just write what I'm told to write.

tom gillespie said...

A great testament to the futility of war.. Some wonderfully emotive language in this piece.. Great last line..fab!

inkyheels said...

This was a troubling read because the sounds and images were so clear in the way you described things. Very vivid slice of life piece, I think. Well done.

Brinda said...

Icy the randomness of street fights and anarchy is so well portrayed - with your unique ability to paint images with words.

Stephen said...

Hi there Icy -- really evocative. It struck me that it could be a future war, not just WWII, which I kind of liked. Great imagery, right down to: "...the perverse nocturnal mating call of the police." St.

Post a Comment