Friday Fictioneers – Unwelcome News

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - Unwelcome news 181010

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Edited 09:52 BST 11 October 2018

Unwelcome news

Edward pulled his shoulders back and stood tall as he walked through the farm entrance. The barn looked even more ramshackle, and the yard was dirty. Dad was still struggling to cope then.

“Hullo, Dad.”

“What are you doing here? I thought you were at un-i-ver-si-tee”

“Well…”

A low flying Spitfire drowned out his reply.

“Bloody planes!”

“Dad, they’re heroes. They’re stopping the Germans.”

“They’re frightening the bloody cattle, that’s what. Ever since they opened that damn airfield down the road.”

“Dad. I’ve er…I’ve something to tell you.”

“Curdling the bloody milk they are.”

“Dad. I’ve had my call-up papers.”

77 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Unwelcome News

    • Dear Neil
      Thank you for reading and commenting. It’s certainly possible his dad knew what he’d come to say, but he would have to have picked it up subliminally in the greeting. Edward had just finished the first year of a PhD in Engineering, and had thought his call-up was safely deferred for another two years. But no; the authorities decided they needed him. This actually happened to my father a couple of years after the war, and he was sent to Malaya. He never was able to finish that PhD…
      As for “Dang” – has anybody, anywhere, ever used “Dang”? It’s a bowdlerised cuss word! But seriously, do you think it spoils the father’s voice? It would be useful to know.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

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    • Dear Neil
      Thank you for the tip about ‘Dang!’. It was lazy writing on my part. I’ve edited the story to use more appropriate words. I avoided ‘effing’; to me it carries overtones of the industrial North rather than the rural South-East.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Iain
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I think you’re right that the father will never change. I’m not so sure about the hurt inside. His biggest hurt – I suspect – is that his son left home to study engineering at university, and will not take over the farm. So Edward’s father is the last of a line who may have farmed that particular land for hundreds of years.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Stuart
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad the confusion over “Dang” didn’t prevent you from enjoying the rest of the story. It was lazy writing on my part, and I’ve edited the story to use more appropriate language.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear JS
      Thank you for reading and commenting. You raise an interesting speculation. How would the farmer have reacted if land girls were sent to help on the farm? Well,,. he’s a widower in his late forties and still perfectly capable of fathering a child. His big psychological imperative is to hand on the farm to an heir, but his son Edward has taken a different route. That could be an interesting plot line to work through.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rochelle
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      I’d love to agree with you about the war taking on a different meaning for the farmer, but I’m not sure it will. Edward is not going to follow in his father’s footsteps. For a farmer of that period that was a really big deal. Edward’s forebears farmed that land for hundreds of years, and now he’s turned his back on it and gone to university. Dad will only just barely speak to him; in fact for a long time he wouldn’t have any contact at all. So, a family tragedy in the making…
      Shalom
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Alice
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I expect ‘Dad’ was aware of the importance of the war. However, he was obsessed with the idea that he would be the last of his family to farm the land where he lived. His son, Edward, had chosen to go to university instead.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Plaridel
      Thank you for reading and commenting. The call-up papers were a dreadful shock to Edward who had expected to be allowed to finish his university course. They were less of a shock to his father, I think.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sandra
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I believe you’re right. No matter that the father is bitterly disappointed that his son has chosen not to farm but to go to university instead, his son’s call-up will probably shake him.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Trent
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m sure there was an element of coping about the Dad’s behaviour. He might well have guessed from the expression on his son’s face that he’d been called up.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Linda
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, the first half of the 20th century was a period of dramatic change, intensified by the world wars. It’s hit this farmer and his son very hard.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Well done, Penny… Agree about the Spitfire mention; missed the dang dangs but feel the bloodys (which I assumed is what replaced them 😉 ) belong!
    And the farmer’s reality is being doubly fired upon, methinks. I think, in an effort to NOT say what he feels about his son’s being called up, he sticks to what he knows. Easier to handle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jo
      Thank you for reading and for your kind comments. You’re very kind to say my story feels authentic. And you’ve delighted me! You’ve understood that the story isn’t about the war, it’s about farming. Edward is the farmer’s only child who has turned his back on farming and gone to university. Generations of his forebears have farmed that land. No wonder his father mocks him with the way he drags out the syllables of “un-i-ver-si-tee”. No wonder he talks at him rather than with him. It’s a wonder he’s prepared to speak to him at all. I’m so glad you realised what I was on about!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was reading an interesting article the other day that said as Baby Boomers are retiring a significant population (10%+ if I remember correctly) are returning to farming. Some are solely looking to supplement the grocery budget while others are farming for farmers markets, specialty restaurants or other organic grocers as a retirement income. Very interesting.

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    • Dear Sascha
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Well spotted, that the father was contemptuous of his son being at uni. That really is one of the key elements of the story. Edward was the only son, and he had turned his back on farming as a career. Even today, few people enter farming from outside – it’s a family thing. Edward’s forebears had farmed that land for generations, and now it was all coming to an end.
      I’m really grateful to you for mentioning the contempt, because it means that the device I used worked for at least one reader!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Subroto
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, alas, all too many boys will have been called up to fight, and families will have had to bear separation and loss.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

      • Both my Gr. Great Grandfather (WW1) and my Gr. Grandpa (WW1&2) as well as Gr. Uncles (WW2 & Korea) were called up. Remember well my Gran telling me about how much fear there was in the family, and she just a young girl at the time.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the ‘voices’ of father and son – so much said in so few words. The understatement they both use reminds me strongly of a previous generation who were ‘buttoned up’, even about war, or the dad’s sneering about university. Well written.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t imagine living through a war with your children going off to fight. We live in another time because of the sacrifice of so many others. Your story is moving, I felt nervous for the son and sad for the father who is about to come face to face with life-altering reality. I think someone else said it, but I think the father knew what his son was going to say and that’s why affixes a mask of irritation about something else. Maybe to delay the inevitable? Very well-written.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Brenda
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you thought the story was well written. The father may well have guessed his son’s news and not wanted to hear it, but there were many other reasons for tension between father and son.
      I agree with you that living through a war where your children are compelled to go and fight must be dreadful.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Priya
      Thank you for reading and commenting. War is dreadful, and when it comes it’s inescapable. I think that the truest heroes are those who refuse to fight regardless of the consequences. If we all did that, the powerful would be unable to manipulate us into wars.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  4. Edward’s dad is certainly not welcoming his son back with open arms; he makes a mockery of the word “university”. The inclusion of the Spitfire leads us straight to the reason Edward has gone to see his father. You really brought this scene to life, and you’ve incorporated so much into this short story (e.g. a strained father-son relationship, the focus of a farmer on his land, the horror of war, etc.).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can understand where the father is coming from. He had hopes that his son would be a farmer like him but the fact that he went off to university says a lot and now, he’s heading off to war. Now the father has more to deal with–there’s the possibility of his son never returning. Having a son in university doesn’t seem so bad, after all, does it? Very engaging story.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Adele
    Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, those were exactly the thoughts and feelings I was trying to communicate. I’m glad you felt engaged by the story.
    With very best wishes
    Penny

    Like

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