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July 2007 Flashers

 

Flash Fiction written by members and friends of the MuseItUp Club. Submissions are invited for this page.*

 

 

Childhood’s End

 

by Sonny Eagle

 

 

“What is it, son?” the sergeant snarled. “I’m trying to take a piss. Get back to your post.”

 

The lad winced, but didn’t budge. He waited nervously until his sergeant finished and buttoned up.

 

“I’m scared, Sarge. So scared that I’m feelin’ to run away.” There were tears in the boy’s eyes. He dropped his rifle. The sergeant scowled and was about to speak.

 

The boy retched, twice, and then vomited on the grass. Down on his knees the lad looked the sorriest sight the sergeant had seen during the six months of war.

 

Sergeant Daniel Scofield had his own demons to face. Before the war he was a schoolteacher. His home town was nearby. The advancing rebel army had forced him back to where he had taught this boy and others – now boy-soldiers on the battle line across the grove. He knew this lad, knew his love for poetry and music: a good-hearted, tender child who now must become a man.

 

“Pick up your rifle, son. Never ever, drop it in the dust. You hear me, boy?”

 

“I can’t, sir, sergeant, I mean. I’m sick.”

 

“Boy, if you run, you’ll run forever. We have to make a stand here for God, country, and our families.” His words were like hot pokers burning the fear-stricken boy and adding to his pain. He retched again, before struggling to stand and face the veteran soldier.

 

“I can’t do it!” Sobs racked his body as fell to his knees, again.

 

The sergeant knew what he had to do. It would hurt him more than the boy, but maybe; just maybe, it might save him shame and his life. He took three paces toward the boy and gave him a vicious slap across the face. The lad’s head shot straight up and then he crumpled to the ground.

 

God forgive me, thought the sergeant. Why this kid, one who was like a friend, not just another boy-soldier?

 

“You listen, son,” he ordered through clenched teeth. The lad tried to struggle up on one elbow, the other hand clutching at his face. “I know you and Becky Adams are plannin’ to marry one day. She’s back there in town, boy. We stop the rebels here or they burn the town – do I have to tell you what’ll happen to the women?”

 

The boy looked up at the sergeant’s face, into his fierce eyes. He saw the anger blazing and something else. He saw fear. The sergeant knew fear, too. His wife and daughter were there with the other women and children, guarded by a few men, too old and frail to make it to the front line.

 

The boy thought of Becky and his love for her. He couldn’t run, he couldn’t let her down. The fear of running, the fear of losing her, the fear of the shame of it all began to steel his resolve.

 

Another sergeant would have kicked him where he lay or shot him as he ran. His old friend and mentor couldn’t do that. The boy knew if he left his gun and ran the sergeant wouldn’t stop him. His ears still rang from the force of the slap, but words echoed in his brain, you’ll run forever. He closed his eyes and prayed.

 

The sergeant watched as the boy’s demeanour changed. He saw the jaw clench in determination and faith strengthen his arms as courage returned to straighten his back. The boy’s head lifted, he grabbed his rifle, stood tall and began to walk back through the grove.  Shouts and shots heralded his childhood’s end and ushered the lad to the field of death.

 

###

 

 

Sonny Eagle

 

Sonny Eagle writes poetry and prose, primarily for this own entertainment. If you like it, he’s even happier.

*Send Flash Fiction submissions to underamuse@yahoo.com.au .

Please include the words “Muse Marquee Flash Submission” in the subject line.

 

 

The Flashers page is edited by Lea Schizas and Les Stephenson.

 

FLASH ARCHIVES

 

JUNE 2007 FLASHERS

 

MAY 2007 FLASHERS

 

MARCH 2007 FLASHERS