We are all defeated

Mahogany skin: sunwarm, after all these years still calling. I think I can feel it purring when I let my hand trace its smooth hull. A vibration tempting me to leave.

But when I close my eyes, I’m once again inside the Humvee: in the silence afterwards, in smell of blood, a crimson mess where once were legs and arms. Before the phantom-pains kept me from sleeping.

“I think it’s time to sell the canoe.”

Your voice is broken like my body.

I nod as you slowly pull me back into the shade of our house.

We are all defeated.

We had a beautiful Mahogany canoe just like the one in Jenifer’s picture, and it brought back memories. That was the starting point, and as usual my thought went the melancholy way. I have not lost my arms or legs, and wish that I could jump into the canoe and just paddle away sometimes.

Friday Fictioneers is a wonderful opportunity to write fiction run by Chief Rochelle, 100 words on the same picture. Join us.


106 responses to “We are all defeated

  1. Björn, my husband longs for his little childhood sailboat. Any sailboat, actually, would do him happily. So, yes, I know that feeling.

  2. That was haunting but beautifully written.
    That canoe was a living thing and I could feel the wood under my own hand because of your descriptions.

  3. This is exquisite! I love these:
    “Mahogany skin: sunwarm, after all these years still calling.”
    “I nod as you slowly pull me back into the shade of our house.
    We are all defeated.”

  4. Bjorn, that story squeezes my heart. I would hope that, perhaps, there is still a canoe in the future. I think if it could be managed, it would be a saving therapy. Wonderful story.


  5. Ugh. How sad man. The canoe really gives us a sense of what was lost. We used to canoe the rivers every summer as teens. It Def plays up the loss of freedom.

  6. You can tell a whole life story in hundred words, can’t you? From the sensuality of mahogany to the horror of war to the brokenness of despair, you arced them all in very skilfully.

  7. Very effective juxtaposing of the agony of his memories and the peace represented by the canoe. The ending brings the two together in a very poignant way.

  8. Reading your work after a gap – you didn’t disappoint with your beautiful darkness. One needs to accept defeat before moving on to the next battle. Exquisite.

  9. I have a neighbor who is in a wheelchair as the result of a terrible accident. He played football, loved to hunt and fish. He still fights to do as many outdoor activities as he can, but sometimes you can see the pain in his eyes from the loss of mobility and the freedom it allows. Very touching piece, Bjorn.

  10. I think this is masterful. There is so much in there. We had a canoe, too, and miss it a lot. I’ve not given up home that some day we can find the time to go out on lakes and rivers again and feel free… Freedom lost by fighting for freedom for others, these are deep themes. I hope he’ll find someone who paddles for him–and good prosthetics.

  11. I’ve rowed a boat, but never paddled a canoe. I’ve been in one when a neighbor paddled it. It takes skill to even get in and out. Poor man. I think I’d find a way he could just still ride in one. Very realistic and powerfully written, Bjorn. —– Suzanne

  12. It would be nice to just paddle away! I really like, “when I let my hand trace its smooth hull. A vibration tempting me to leave.” That’s really effective and you get inside this story. Well done, Bjorn.

  13. At least it is still theoretically possible for you. I think it’s the loss of possibilities that make the loss of limbs so bad. Someday they will rub an ointment on our end bits and we will grow things back the way a lizard will grow back a tail.

  14. Brutal, brilliant. Your poetry experience always shows through in your tales – fantastic imagery, and great use of discordance and disconnection. Warmth of memories; horror of accident; grief of loss… spectacular.

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