Being lucky

Dawn crawled through the trenches, across the ground, pockmarked by yesterday’s mortars, rattling the skeleton-branches of oaks.

Sergeant Harper coughed, the claws of mustard gas ripping his throat.

Was he lucky to survive? 

One year ago when joining the war he would have thought so. 

Now he knew that soldiers don’t have beliefs, only obedience. 

So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm, the lieutenant had said just before he stepped over the edge just to be hit by the sniper’s bullet.

At least he had his name on a grave, not like his friends who were buried when their tunnel caved in under no man’s land. 

Was it luck being alive?

Maybe today he would cross over, if not it was two weeks until his next two days relief with Claire at the village.

Sergeant Harper loaded his rifle again.

Trenches of the 11th Cheshire Regiment at Ovillers-la-Boisselle, on the Somme, July 1916. One sentry keeps watch while the others sleep. Photo by Ernest Brooks

Today we write Prosery at Dverse with Ingrid. Today we have to fit the following line into a piece of prose (of less or equal than 144 words) from William Blake’s poem ‘The Chimney Sweeper:’So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm

September 13, 2016.

18 responses to “Being lucky

  1. An atmospheric piece, Björn, and I think it suits the prompt very well. Your words took me to lines from another Blake poem, London:

    ‘And the hapless Soldiers sigh
    Runs in blood down Palace walls’

    I hope Sergeant Harper made it out alive!

  2. The image of “the claws of mustard gas,” here is so very potent in this prose piece, Bjorn! Gorgeously rendered. 💝💝

  3. So much in this little flash piece, I think “being lucky” is always in how we frame our stories and never in comparison to another’s fate. The ending allows some hope for the Sergeant to get back to the village! ♥

  4. This may be your best war poem. The prompt sentence is perfectly weaved into the plot. It is Flash Fiction, and it is brilliant.

  5. I developed “goosebumps” on my arms reading this one, Bjorn. So poignant .. and so damned descriptive of the truth of war.

  6. First off, a “Claire” surfaced in both of our pieces. How strange! I really love the opening, so rich in language. Also enjoyed this very thought-provoking line “soldiers don’t have beliefs, only obedience’.

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