At the end

Copyright - J. Hardy Carroll

Copyright – J. Hardy Carroll

They say your whole life flashes before you at the end, but Jimmy recalled only boots pounding on bitumen, endless lines of marching men, and flag-waving crowds cheering them on to the great adventure. They’d be home by Christmas.

He lay dying in reeking mud, numb from cold, amid shell-bursts and machine-gun stutter. Around him, other men fought on.

Then in the gloom he saw a distant blur – pale, swirling, drifting closer, taking shape: his sisters in light summer dresses, laughing, twirling in play. He smiled.

He never heard the screams as the gas cloud rolled in.

*****

It’s a sombre one this week for Friday Fictioneers, but the prompt provided by Rochelle, fitting for Remembrance Day, leads to sombre thoughts. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the weekly event where writers contribute 100 word stories in response to a photo.

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26 thoughts on “At the end

  1. You described so well in the first paragraph the marching men. I can see their feet moving in unison.
    And the sadness, of course. It extends to what has happened in Paris last night. A different war but maybe just the same.

    Lily

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    • I wanted the visual images to carry the meaning, so I’m very happy you saw it this way. Thank you. The news from Paris is truly awful – as you say, the same evil, just in a different guise.

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    • I’m sorry to hear that your father suffered that horrible experience. It’s difficult to write about such things, knowing that we’d prefer to put them behind us and move on, but we have to keep such memories alive in the hope that someday we will learn something from them. Thank you, as always, for your encouraging feedback.

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  2. Good story, Margaret. Whoever said, “War is hell.” was certainly right. The poison gas used in WWI made it more so. I heard of one man who lost his teeth, and of another who came home with holes in his lungs. Well written. — Suzanne

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    • That war produced some horrific weapons. Every time I read or watch something about it I’m shocked again by the scale of the suffering. Thank you for your feedback, Suzanne, and sorry I forgot to respond sooner.

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