This is my latest Smashwords release, so it’s available now. This is a short story around 2,500 words. It’s a bit of a sentimental, emotional story as well about a man who returns home looking for things he knows aren’t there. It’s mostly about how powerful the pull of home can be, as well as memories and curiosity.
He only wants to find his family again, even though that’s not possible, but the memories on his return evoke powerful emotions of how he caused an entire town to grieve. As he stands out at the end of the pier, where he recalls being with his mother and sister, he gets swept up in the memory of the pain that he managed to cause to a whole town by raising the dead.
Here’s the opening:
Caroline and I stand side by side, she has on her best dress for this occasion. We are 11 years old today and forever shall remain so in the photograph. This image has the precious quality of holding on to time. We look so young. There is a party going on around us in our living room. People are merry, drinks are flowing and on the coffee table, in among the glasses of wine, there is a cake. A small chocolate cake from which protrudes a solitary candle, flickering, dancing the night away. This is our birthday celebration. Never in her life has mother failed to bear gifts for her children. This is another family affair with the added touch of Mother’s home-made wares. We finish another glass of lemonade and she ushers us behind the coffee table. The cake is now in front of us and she orders us with the prettiest smile I have ever seen, to stand together. She tells us to smile like her and aims her camera.
I have returned and yet no-one has noticed.
Life has now stolen away too many of my years and too many have died around me. I have lost fewer of my family than I have done strangers, but I feel more grief when I think of my loved ones than when I do of the hundreds that have lay fallen at my feet.
What is quantity in death?
The wounded, maimed and deceased have a place in our hearts, for the tragedies justifiably allow us empathy. Everyone looks for empathy from compatriots, but the greatest gift that makes the heart pure is actually having that gift and bestowing it upon those set deep within the enemy’s minefield.
I have walked back to the end of the pier where years ago the beach below would have been crammed with families and the air would fill with the laughter of children. Caroline and I used to hang over the railings and look down upon the little people below. Today it is grey and overcast, the beach is filled with silence and the air is full of quiescent memories. I limped slowly back here, back along the wooden boards once more to this white bench next to the railings. With my back to the wind coming in off the sea, I ease my tired body down onto the wet frame of the seat. When exactly did the world leave me behind?
Enjoy – this is a free download from Smashwords and other sources like Barnes & Noble, Apple Books.