24/01/2018

SHRAPNEL - a hundred word story inspired by a photograph

SHRAPNEL

“Found some!” Arnold yelled.
The piece of shrapnel was still hot, as was the bombsite, but his gang had to be there first to retain their scavenging rights to the street. 
As they scoured the rubble for more, Hal asked, “Anything from your dad?”
Arnold shrugged. “He’s too busy killing Jerries.”
“My dad writes every week.”
“Your dad’s a softie.”
The token scuffle didn’t last long – Arnold’s heart wasn’t in it.
Mum shouldn’t have left that letter lying open, but when he heard her crying he read it. Now the words were burned into his brain.

‘Dereliction of Duty’.
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Thanks to Sandra Crook for her photo of a derelict building and a Smart car, but my mind sped off in a different direction. Visit https://rochellewisoff.com/ to read other interpretations of the Friday Fictioneers prompt.

46 comments:

  1. Sometimes open letters mustn't be read...

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  2. I was hoping for a happier ending for the plucky little kid.

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    1. His dad probably didn't deserve it either.

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  3. Dear Liz,

    Sad story. Now the boy will have to live with that assessment. Well done.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

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    1. Once I was hearing 'Dereliction of Duty' I couldn't write anything else.

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  4. We forget sometimes that behind every historical fact there is a personal story - I wonder if he may find his father had in fact been braver than he could imagine.

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    1. There is always that hope. Thanks for commenting.

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  5. Poor Arnold. I hope he was able to understand his father's actions. I agree with Iain - some of the men who didn't fight - like the conscientious objectors - were in fact incredibly brave to take a stance.

    Susan A Eames at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

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    1. If his father really was guilty, the whole family would feel shamed.

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  6. Loved your take on the prompt. Very sad though.

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  7. A very sad story. You capture Arnold's response to his discovery very well.

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  8. Hard to read a letter like that. Arnold's reaction in such few words was well worded.

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  9. So much is packed in those few words.

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  10. he probably got tired of all the killing and the insanity of it.

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    1. There were a lot of such cases, not all of them justified.

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  12. Poor kid. A letter better left unread.

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  13. I cannot imagine what that must have been like. A sorrowful tale indeed.

    Click to read my FriFic!

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    1. Little boys want their dads to be heroes.

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  14. Tough thing for a child to find out. Wars are brutal and not everyone is a her. We don't get to hear these stories. Nicely done.

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    1. Some of those stories are there to be found if you dig deep enough.

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  15. A clever spin on the photo, Liz. A different kind of dereliction. It's a hard subject, this as I have sympathy for anyone who just found they couldn't face their own fear and horror anymore - these men often weren't volunteers of course and many would not have been cut out for soldiery. I wonder how many of us would do the same in the father's position. Well told tale as always

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    1. Thanks Lynn. My husband did his military service in Kenya fighting the MaoMao and he did - and witnessed - things no eighteen year old should have to.

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  16. I agree with Lynn... So many did not choose to join but had no choice. Definitely not everyone is cut out for it and those who are, still come back damaged in some way...
    Fabulous take on the photo.

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    1. Thank you Dale. I pity all those peaceloving souls who had no choice.

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  17. Today we'd say PTSD but back then you'd fight or you'd be labelled a deserter---period.
    Well told. We feel for the boy.

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  18. Lovely banter between the boys, and a sad ending for Arnold. War has no boundaries ~ emotionally or in violence.

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    1. I hope Arnold and Hal are still friends when the news leaks out - as it will.

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  19. I have found that 'duty' is a dirty word. Something made up to make us do what we would not have done otherwise. I loved how you told the story from the child's perspective. And how it will haunt him for life.

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    1. Thanks justjoy - though sometimes duty chimes with our desires, it often doesn't.

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  20. An excellent take on this one.

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  21. It's terrible when the life is driven by the military... of course we have to fight the evil, but sometimes we just have to see it for what it was... and there are cases when we saying no is the right choice too... i wonder if he was executed.

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    1. Apparently there were some executions, but it was more likely he was put on a charge and had his pay docked. It depends on the severity of the result of what he did, I suspect.

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  22. The stress caused by battle conditions was not understood fully in past years. Some soldiers were shot for desertion. It's very sad. Good writing, Liz. ---- Suzanne

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