‘The Skylark’ by Tom F

This is not a competition entry, but something that Tom asked me if I would post on his behalf.  It is also another very fitting piece of writing given the 100 year anniversary of WW1 and it has special meaning to him, as detailed in his email to me at the time:

It is dedicated to my uncle, Pte Thomas Frattaroli, Gordon Highlanders, who was killed in action 18th August 1944, in Normandy, at the age of 21. Liseux is a beautiful place, we have visited on quite a few occasions, took my dad there before he passed away (he also fought his way through to Germany and Poland, and survived, obviously). I can’t describe the feeling I got the first time I went, and saw my name on the gravestone.

Thank you for sharing this Tom and for your touching story.
Skylark-in-flight

THE SKYLARK

It was Lisieux, Normandy, 1944. Paris had been liberated and the Axis forces were retreating.

“Have a cup of tea, lad, then move over to the left to be recorded with the rest of your pals”. The British corporal was receiving German prisoners of war, listing name, rank and number, in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

The German soldiers were defeated and afraid, their slumped shoulders and shuffling feet reflected the fear in their eyes. They were thinking “What will happen to us? Will we ever see our families again? “

This one thought ran through all their minds. Only a few short years ago they were children, but the war had ravaged them, now they were battle–hardened men, but they still had their fears.

“Don’t worry, Fritz, we will look after you, and you are safe here, we will feed you as well as we can” added the corporal.

“Lucky sods, imagine the boot on the other foot,” interrupted one young Tommy, “they wouldn’t……….”

“Shut up, soldier!” the corporal barked “we are the British Army, the war is over for us and they are no longer a threat. Move on to the left.” he motioned to the German POW who was now slurping on his boiling, welcoming brew.

“How many now, corporal? “enquired the RSM.

“About three thousand, sergeant major. We are running short of space to keep them here, but I don’t think they are a threat, they have seen enough, just like us, and they welcome their peace”

“We will have to hope so, corporal”, the RSM muttered quietly.

“Sir?…….”

“We are on our own now son, they have moved on and left us in charge, ‘Awaiting Further Orders’. The local French officials will be coming soon to help with the organising of who goes where, but we shouldn’t be too long here.”

RSM John Kirk was a huge man, a Scot from the Gordon Highlanders, straight-talking and to the point. He was revered by the men serving under him, and respected by his superior officers. With him they believed they were invincible. As a career soldier, he should have gone further up the ranks, but he was content to stay close to his men. He had trained them for three years for this victory, and he wanted to be with them when they achieved it.

“Won’t be long now sarge. We’ll be off back to Blighty, and not like it was at Dunkirk. This time it’ll be on the ferry, china tea cups and a plate of cakes. ‘All aboard The Skylark‘ hey?” It was the young Tommy chirping in again. He was twenty one years old and hadn’t been at Dunkirk, too young. This was his first taste of action, but like all Britons he had learned of the horrors of retreat and the bravery of all those involved.

“First Saturday I get, it’ll be down to ‘Hat and Feathers‘ for a couple of pints with the boys, then up to see the ‘Spurs’. Up The Lillywhites!” he enthused.

John Kirk frowned as he looked the cocky lad up and down, obviously not one of his boys.

“Listen son,” he whispered threateningly “that’s a way off yet and you are still in the army,” the whisper increasing in volume “and while you wear the King’s uniform…. you call me SERGEANT MAJOR!”

The private snapped to attention, stretching his five feet six inch frame as far as it would reach.

“Sorry, SERGEANT MAJOR !“ his reaction direct from the parade ground.

“Stand easy, lad, I’m not going to eat you, just remember where we are. AND, if I’m ever in The Hat and Feathers, I’ll share a wee dram with you.” There was almost a smile on Kirk’s face, knowing he would NEVER take a drink in a London Pub.

“Now get amongst the prisoners, bring back the mugs and help out with the washing up. Good Lad!“

“SERGEANT MAJOR!” another perfect response.

It was at this point that the Commanding Officer, approached the RSM, he was a Lt. Colonel also from The Gordon Highlanders, and, at twenty four, ten years younger than RSM Kirk.

“I have spoken to the local councillors about the problem of overcrowding, and they have requisitioned the field directly adjacent to ours. We can have the prisoners moved into it as there is more room for them, albeit quite cramped, but it relieves our space a little. I’ve also spoken to the German C.O. Can you believe, he was educated at Oxford? He is quite happy to move too. They will not give us any trouble, they have nowhere to go, and if the locals got hold of them, heaven knows what would happen. We have about two hours of daylight to get that organised Sarn’t Major, they can have an armed guard overnight, you know the procedure.“

“Yes Sir!” barked Kirk.

“Thanks, but try and take things a little easier, John. It’s all over for us now, we have a lot to be proud of. We did our job. We ‘Stood Fast’.” The words were softly delivered, causing RSM Kirk to realize that for them, it was all over.

As the sun began to set to the West, a lone skylark rose from this corner of France, ascending slowly, singing his beautiful song of summer, whilst the ghostly shadows of the soldiers disappeared into the cool evening mist. Below him, the two fields, in St. Desir grew smaller as he climbed. In the British field, there were rows of white marble, akin to soldiers on parade. Next to them, divided by a low hedgerow and pathway, lay the German field, filled with smaller, darker stones, three times the number of those in the adjacent field.

At the entrance to each field stood a monument to many brave men, and resting by each, lay a wreath of poppies, with the words

“BROTHERS IN PEACE”

(c) Tom Frattaroli

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‘In the blink of an eye’ by Jan Strickland

gran

I am happy to share another entry for this month’s mini writing competition on the theme of ‘Memories’ from regular contributor, Jan Strickland, with a nostalgic trip down memory lane.  Thanks Jan and don’t forget that if you would like to join in, there are still 6 days left to contribute an entry for November.

MEMORIES

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE

I sit, saddened by the passing of time

but strangely not alone, not lonely

My life’s been a wonderful kaleidoscope of rhyme –

a positive life, not a question of ‘if only’

 

School days

Nativity plays

Pet hates

First dates

Holidays, jolly days of fun and laughter by the sea

Intimate meals with special people

All these are happy memories for me

 

I sit content in my special chair

and count my blessings, for I see

a lot of people within whose care

I am so very lucky to be

 

My family all grown up now

with lives and loves of their own to see

My clock ticks on, the grandchildren gather

“Tell us a story Nana”, they jump on my knee

 

So forget rheumatics, the odd aches and pains

The brain shutter clicks open to shower the wains

with memories of long ago, the funnier the better

Of their Mum or Dad, they want to know

Of the naughty deeds so long ago

 

And so I remember every small detail

to pass on to the children for this is their history

Part of their being is wrapped in my memory

Its life I am telling and not just a fairy tale.

 

(c) Jan Strickland

 

 

 

‘In the fields of the flat lands’ by Jane Dougherty

poppies

On this special day I am very pleased to be able to share with you Jane’s beautiful and very poignant poem.  Such a tragic waste of human life – we will never forget and thank you for making the biggest sacrifice of all.

Back from a wet and windy October break in Arran so Voting for October is now open!

vote now

I’ve just returned from a rather damp short break on the Island of Arran, where I grew up as a child, and thankfully the weather did nothing to dampen my memories of such a special place.  What made it even more special was introducing my young children to the place where I lived when I was their age.  I always found it fed my imagination and I loved coming full circle and sharing it with my own family.

Reflecting the busy time of year perhaps there were only two entries to this month’s competition, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to choose a winner, …… although both were entertaining so it could be hard to choose between them!  Voting is now open so please vote and ensure that your favourite wins.  As usual, voting will remain open until the end of the month.

Who will you vote for?

Voting for September is now open!

woman voting

A big thank you to those that took part in this month’s micro fiction mini competition and I really enjoyed reading through the entries.  Voting is now open so please vote and ensure that your favourite wins.  As usual, voting will remain open until the end of the month and the winner will then get to set the next writing prompt.

Who will you vote for?

50 Word Micro Fiction – And here’s another…

lightening bolt

Welcome to a regular contributor, Jan Strickland, with her entry for this month’s micro fiction competition – 50 words (or under) on the theme of magic and mystery.  I’m told this is a true story, in which case it’s a bit spooky!

By Jan Strickland

My husband was snoring.  My sister, dead nine years, stood at the bottom of my bed, dressed as I had last seen her.

“Are you alright Violet?”

“Yes Rose, I am.  And so will you be!”  Then she was gone.

The war raged on; but we would survive

 

 

 

50 Word Micro Fiction – Two more…

lightening bolt

Welcome back to Tom F and Kate Loveton for their take on this month’s micro fiction competition – 50 words (or under) on the theme of magic and mystery.  Thanks for joining in again and good luck to you both.

There are still a couple of days left if you would like to take part this month – you can do so by clicking on the September Monthly Mini Competition page of this blog and posting an entry in the ‘Leave A Reply’ box at the bottom of the page.

By Kate Loveton – ‘That Old Black Magic’

Hi Elizabeth, here’s my entry: ‘That Old Black Magic’

By Tom F

It was 3 am, I was asleep when he called my name. “Write it, now!”  I found my pen and pad, and began to write. His story.  But he had died nine months earlier…. Four hours later I woke again, pen in hand, shocked by the scrawl I had written…..
Tom F.

50 Word Micro Fiction – First 4 Entries

lightening bolt

Apologies for the late post (I have been battling the cold and feeling a bit sorry for myself), but I am now very pleased to bring you the first 4 entries for this month’s micro fiction competition – 50 words (or under) on the theme of magic and mystery.  It is also lovely to see some new participants – welcome to you and thank you for taking part.

Don’t forget that if you would like to give it a go, you can do so simply by clicking on the September Monthly Mini Competition page of my blog and posting an entry in the ‘Leave A Reply’ box at the bottom of the page.

By Jane Dougherty

https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/flash-fiction-mini-competition/
By denmaniacs4

The dark sky sank into the sea. The drifting raft clung to the sliver of moon just above the horizon. His legs barely moved as he swam, slowly, at snail speed. The woman on the raft stretched to the gloomy sky. “Return to me,” he could almost hear her command.

By Joanna Fay

He cradled the rose in his hands, and whispered the command. Spells shimmered in its petals, suspending its life. This one wouldn’t die. If he could hold them all, his world might be saved. Another bloom wilted on the bush. He cupped his palm around it. This time, he shouted.

By A C Elliot

http://elliottamc.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/magic-and-mystery-needed/

 

 

 

 

Voting for August is now open!

elephant voting

 

Only three entries to choose from again this month, and the voting poll is now attached for you to vote for your favourite entry, whether you entered something yourself or not.  Voting will remain open until the end of the month and the winner will then get to set the next writing prompt.

Who will you vote for?

 

‘A Force of Nature’ by elizfrat

With one day to go before the deadline, I thought I would squeeze in one of my poems to fit in with the prompt of The Day of The Storm.  This is based on a tree in the garden of one of my old houses – I was always very nervous when it was windy, but then it had been standing for over a hundred years so I’m sure there was nothing to worry about……

tree near house

A FORCE OF NATURE

The large sentry creaks,

battered by gale;

its branches twisting

and folding in on themselves.

As if to protect the trunk –

its heart.

 

A symphony whistles through

early evening air

as leaves dance and spar

and let the wind pass through.

Their music all but drowned out by

the relentless breath of wind.

 

I watch as ground around me

is ripped up;

a cacophony of noise and destruction.

Empty plastic bags ride the gusts,

refuse spills,

and garden debris stings my eyes.

 

I catch a movement

out the corner of my eye

and note a light in

neighbouring house.

Without communication

I still sense their trepidation;

 

their nervous watchfulness

as tree sways

ominously towards

their rooftop.

Then retreats.

 

Then repeats;

Advances and retreats,

Advances and retreats.

 

The majestic oak

becomes a threat.

And I catch my breath

 

And wait

And watch

And hope

That the wind will die down soon.

 

(c) Elizabeth Frattaroli