A Challenge Accepted – Archie Goes to War

Another challenge from The Britchy One, see the post below for the details:

Bedtime Stories for Insomniacs.

She has set the challenge, to write a short story, poem, 6 word story, serious article, or anything really, but everyone is set the same title.

This weeks title is Archie Goes To War

So here is my offering:

Archie Goes to war

Tina hated being dragged to the old folk’s home by her Mother. She did this every couple of months, to see great-aunt Alice. It was a sad, depressing place and it smelt funny. She’d rather be playing out with her friends, Pauline, Susan and Jonathan. They had found an old shopping trolley in the brook that runs through the woods and they were going to turn it into a go-cart. She longed to take part, but Oh no! Her Mother had different ideas.

“Come on in Tina and get washed and put your pink frock on. We’re going to visit Aunt Alice. Look sharp!”

So here they were driving across town to the old folk’s home that great-aunt Alice lived in.

Great Aunt Alice was her grandmother’s older sister and she had turned 97 a couple of months ago. They had given her a small party. It wasn’t a large family. She had outlived all of her siblings. She had never married and had never had any children of her own, but apparently had doted on all her nephews and nieces, including her Mother, when they had been little.

They pulled up in the car park outside the crumbling old mausoleum. Mummy had told her not to call it that, because it meant tomb, but she’d read the word in an old story about a big old house and she liked it and thought it applied to this building perfectly.

The big bay windows were lined with dark velvet curtains but the floor was mainly grey linoleum. The place was littered with high-backed chairs, with lacy arm rests and those things that you rest your head on to stop it getting the upholstery greasy. Her mother had told her what they were called, Anti-something or other.

They walked along the corridor and passed many open doors with old people looking eagerly at the visitors to see if it was someone coming to see them. The look of eagerness in their eyes fading to disappointment was so heart wrenching, that was why she hated coming here.

Then at the last door on the right, they knocked. Her Great Aunts voice called out.

“Who is it? Come on in. Oh, it’s you Belinda and you’ve brought Tina, how lovely. Shall I put the kettle on? I think I have some fondant fancies in the cupboard.”

“No Auntie, just sit there and I’ll put the kettle on. Tina sit next to your Aunt and keep her company while I make the tea.”

Obediently, if slightly reluctantly, Tina sat on the small sofa next to Great Aunt Alice, who was wearing numerous layers of knit-ware over a floral dress. The sofa smelled of camphor mixed with Lily of the valley. A smell she associated strongly with her Aunt.

On the mantelpiece was the normal collection of photographs. Aunt Alice with her brother and sister, both dead. They looked young then. The two ladies in flowing gowns and the young man in baggy trousers and a peak-cap. There was another photograph of a young man in army uniform. She’d noticed it before, but this time her Aunt had placed a paper poppy next to it.

“Aunty Alice?”

“Yes, what is it sweetheart?”

“That photograph you have, with the poppy next to it. Who is it?”

Her Aunt looked down at her, her milky blue eyes looked sad for a while. Then she replied.

“That, dear, was Archie, going off to War.”

Tina thought for a moment. They had been studying war in their history class. It had been 80 years since World War One.

“But Auntie, who was he?”

“He was the young man I was betrothed to marry. He had gone to school with your Great Uncle Arthur, my Brother.”

Tina remembered Great Uncle Arthur. He had died a while ago, but she remembered him smoking an old pipe and having a massive white bushy moustache that twitched when he laughed. He laughed a lot, she remembered.

“But Auntie, you didn’t get Married, did you?”

“No love. Archie never came back. So many young men never came back. That is war for you. Broken lives, broken dreams.”


The End

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 16/May/2018


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People are far too complicated to be able to describe in a few words so I am not even going to try.

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