Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 26

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Everyone likes a little flash fiction, right? Thanks to a prompt from Miranda Kate's 26th Mid-Week Flash challenge, you're going to get some! This is from Miranda's post:
I tracked this week's photo prompt down to being taken by Niki Feijen, a male Dutch photographer. The Internet says it is an abandoned chateau in Belgium, but I can't confirm that, or, if it was, which chateau it was taken in. Such a shame.

As soon as I looked at this picture I saw these two characters sitting in the chairs, but what were they saying? And what was their story? So I wrote it to find out. What will you see?
If you want to join in, here's what she's looking for:
General Guidelines:

Story length: Anything up to 750 Words (no minimum).
How enter: Either provide a link in the comments, or post the entire story in the comments.
Deadline: I will post a new one every Wednesday, but if you're inspired by a previous weeks, go ahead and write for it.
Genre/Theme: All/Any - completely open. It doesn't even have to refer to the picture.
And so I preseent my entry for this round of the Mid-Week Flash Challenge.

Musical Chairs

Image by http://www.nikifeijen.com/artworks

    A grey-haired man, testing each step with his cane, shuffled deliberately along the main hall of the old mansion. A woman held his arm, steadying him as she guided him through the debris on the floor. He stopped when he came to a small sunroom at the end. In the center were two dust-covered chairs. A tremor-ridden hand covered his mouth as he whispered, "Dear God..."
    "This? This is what you came thousands of miles to see, father?"
    "Yes. I'd heard the chateau was still standing. I can't believe how little has changed. Even the chairs are here."
    "What's so important about a couple of dirty chairs?"
    "Only one of them is important." He raised his cane and shakily pointed it towards the chair to his right. "That one," he said. 
    "They look the same to me."
    "Perhaps so, but they're not." He took a deep breath before continuing. "That's where I sat."
    "I don't understand."
    "It was January of forty-five. I'd been wounded in the Ardennes—my arm and leg. You know the story. They had made this place into a makeshift hospital being it was so close to the front. I'd been here a little over a week and was recovering quickly. There were all kinds of people running about in here—doctors, nurses, wounded coming in and being sent out. They sat a few of us that were doing better in this room to get some sun. It was cold day. Lots of snow. But we were quite warm sitting in the bright light coming through the windows. Somebody brought in a phonograph and put on a few scratchy old records. I swear I can still hear it playing. The staff were all dashing around trying to care for us and asking everyone to quiet down. A couple of the guys started joking about how we should play musical chairs. That would have been a laugh—most of us couldn't even walk. I guess we were getting pretty rowdy."
    The old man stopped talking, his eyes slowly scanning the room.
    "Are you all right, father? Perhaps we should go. You're tired."
    "There was this girl—pretty—young, though not much younger than me. I never knew her name. She wasn't a nurse—just a local girl helping out. The music was playing when she walked by. I reached out and put my good arm around her waist. That knocked her off balance and she fell over the arm of the chair into my lap. I tried to explain about musical chairs, but I didn't know enough French and she didn't know enough English. Whatever she said to me, I could tell she was plenty mad. She raised her hand to slap me. That's when we heard the window glass break. I saw her expression change.
    "We were miles behind the Allied lines. We thought we were safe. A German sniper changed all that. The bullet buried itself in her chest. If she hadn't been in front of me, it would have been my chest. She died before her body hit the floor. They told me she was only seventeen. It was supposed to be me. Soldiers die, you know. That's what we do. Not seventeen year-old girls."
    "That must have been horrible, father. Is that why you were always so protective of me?"
    "I did what I could prevent anything from happening to you, but it doesn't make up for what I did that day. She might still be alive if it wasn't for me."
    The old man grabbed his chest. His knees buckled.
    "Let me sit," he said, stumbling over to the chair.
    "I'll get help!"
    He just shook his head. "This is how it's supposed to be, isn't it? I'm just a little late."
    "Please, father! Don't try to talk. I'll find someone to help."
    He shook his head again, then stopped. His hand lost its grip on the cane. His shoulders slumped.
    Then all was quiet in the room with the two chairs. The music had finally stopped.

 675 words without the title... 

© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved


  1. Nicely done. Like that last line. Good story. Thanks for joining.

    1. Thanks! I don't have a lot of free time these days, but I post when I can!


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