Friday Fictioneers – One family

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!

An Apology!

I may not have commented on your Friday Fictioneers post last week. I have had trouble with my internet which has made it difficult to read stories, and next to impossible to comment on them.

If I have failed to read and comment on your post, I am sorry and I will try to do better this week! Many thanks to all those of you who read my story despite my lack of reciprocity.

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PHOTO PROMPT © Carla Bicomong

One family

I scoured market stalls selling lanterns decorated with images of dragons, of cash, of storks, until I found one bearing the image of a dove.

Under the trees at the lakeside, with a thousand other people, I waited until the last bird had finished her evening song and then I lit the candle in my lantern. I launched it and it drifted into the indigo twilight.

At first I could identify it, but after five minutes I was no longer sure, and after ten minutes mine was just one gleam of light among many.

I sighed, content and at peace.

What Pegman Saw – The final hymn

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is Gwynedd, Wales, UK.

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Caernarfon Castle, Gwynedd, © Wales Wane Law, Google Maps

The final hymn

“’Jesu, lover of my soul’,” thought Dafydd, as he creaked up the steep hill on his old bicycle, “a fine hymn and Aberystwyth is a glorious tune. Now, shall I end the last verse in E major, or E minor?”

A thin drizzle engulfed the hillside, forming tiny droplets on Dafydd’s spectacles and obscuring his view of the Ebenezer Chapel where he was to play the organ.

“You alright, Dai?” enquired the Minister as he arrived.

Dafydd shrugged. “I’m not getting any younger.”

Despite feeling weak he played with crisp precision and the congregation sang lustily. Dafydd was relieved when the final hymn came. “Aberystwyth truly is a marvellous tune,” he thought. “Now, E major or E minor?”

The cloud outside cleared, and a beam of sunshine illuminated Dafydd’s hymnbook. He smiled.

“E major.”

He played the last chord. His eyes closed.

Peacefully, with no fuss, his heart stopped.

Poem – I shall set beauty

This morning I read a beautiful poem by someone I know who suffers from cancer. I was overwhelmed by her courage, and the wonderful images she had conjured up. It inspired me to write the poem below. (Just in case any reader is concerned that I am the subject of the poem – I am not, thank goodness.)

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I shall set beauty

Against this thing,

This gnawing thing,

Against this greedy, gnawing thing

That steals my body, steals my ease,

This greedy, gnawing, agonising thing

That steals my light,

I shall set beauty.

 

The beauty of an owl’s flight

In the dark night,

The beauty of a gull that glides

Above the endless tides,

The golden beauty, pure and bright,

Of an angel shining with gentle light,

These will defend me in my fight.

 

And yet the beast grows strong,

It feasts, a glutton,

It swallows all I savour,

It swells, burgeons,

Spawns

As I grow frail

And slowly crumble.

 

What help is beauty as the end draws near?

Even the gold of angel’s wings cannot stop fear,

The gull soars free while I lie helpless here.

 

And yet…

It is enough…

 

Hiroshima – War and Peace

On August 6th 1945, at 8:15 a.m. the world changed for ever. The Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. There were nearly 400,000 people in the city. Nobody knows exactly how many were killed directly; the official estimate is that by the end of 1945 about 140,000 had died as a result of the bomb.

The city was laid waste, flattened. For a radius of 2700 metres scarcely anything remained standing. Men, women and children died in their tens of thousands, many burned alive by the searing heat of the blast, others shredded by glass blown from windows, still others with their internal organs destroyed by the shockwave.

The Peace Park and Museum in Hiroshima are both a memorial to those who died, and a powerful political statement against the possession and use of nuclear weapons.

The devastation of the blast is symbolized by the gutted structure of the Trade and Industry Exhibition Hall, which has been left exactly as it was after the bomb had exploded.

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The children who died are commemorated by a sculpture in the Peace Park.

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They are also remembered by a place where visitors, especially children, can leave origami paper cranes. This tradition originates with a little girl named Sadako Sasaki. She suffered from leukaemia as a result of radiation left by the bomb. There was a popular belief that anyone making 1000 paper cranes would have their wish granted and be healed. She tried to make the cranes, but died before she had finished them. Her classmates completed the remainder so that 1000 cranes were buried with her. Since then, people from all over the world have left similar paper cranes in memory of her, and of all the children who died as a result of the bomb.

Cranes fly above the river next to the park.

There is a great bell, which any visitor may toll to affirm their desire for peace and an end to nuclear weapons. The reverberations sound in every corner of the park and maybe in every corner of the world, carried there in the recollections of those who have visited.

There is an eternal flame, which will be kept burning until every nation has forsworn nuclear weapons.

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There is a tree, which was half burned away by the blast. Astonishingly, the next year fresh branches sprang from the trunk, and the tree still survives, left there as a symbol of hope.

I have been convinced of the evil of nuclear weapons since my childhood 50 years and more ago. The more I think about the matter, the more strongly I feel that the only solution is to altogether repudiate armed conflict between groups. Anyone who serves in their country’s armed services must obey without question, which means that unscrupulous leaders can unleash war. We know it happens; we have seen it happen in our own lifetime in Iraq.

Please, if you are a man reading this blog, say no to service in the military, and teach your sons and your grandsons to do the same. And if you are a woman, encourage the men in your family to put aside thoughts of military service.

Unless we do this, eventually somebody will use nuclear weapons again, bigger weapons in greater numbers causing incalculably more casualties. And surely we none of us want that.

 

In the moment – a favourite place

When we are ‘in the moment’, we do not worry about what happened in the past, nor dream about what we would like to happen in the future. Instead, we allow ourselves to cherish the experience as it happens. Being in the open air in a beautiful place can help. This poem describes sitting on Dartmoor in summer. Do you have a favourite place?

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The sun is hot on my hair and bare arms.

The granite on which I sit is cool,

Hard, rough and smooth, round and edged.

The turf smells of tea, stewed in the pot.

The sheep smell sharp.

They tear noisily at the grass,

While the song of the skylark is ever fainter and sweeter

As it climbs beyond hearing.