The Song

Picture from pinterest
Picture from pinterest

The Song                                                                                                           {A short story by Patty Beggs 2015}

As Amanda was picking up the toys that were strewn all over the floor, a song came on the radio.  It was the song that would always transport her back to that summer.   

As the familiar song played in the background she remembered another time and another place where she heard that song.  Soon she was back to that summer of 1970, the summer she turned 16 and the boy who would steal her heart.   

School had been out for a few weeks as the summer routine stated to settle into summer time fun.  This was the summer at the lake where she would met Matthew. 

Matthew and his family had just moved into the military post where both of their fathers were stationed.  He looked a bit older than his 16 yrs, tall, confident with the deepest brown eyes she ever saw.   

As Matthew arrived to the beach area at the lake near the post where they lived, Amanda quickly invited him to join her and her friends.  As a special song played they all introduced themselves to him and eagerly offered to show him the ropes of the post. Joey would know all too soon what it would be like to be the new kid again, he just finished telling everyone his father was being transferred and this would be his last summer there. 

Summer continued on, Matthew and Amanda always showing up at the same places.  It seemed fate was throwing them together. It was inevitable that Amanda fell in love with Matthew. 

Joey had left soon after, followed by Ann whose father had been killed in Vietnam, her mother was moving her little family back home to Idaho. Reality set in to everyone there.  Especially to Amanda, along with her best friend Ellie and her two other friends Michael and Laura who just found out their fathers would also be leaving soon for a tour of duty in Vietnam.  A few days later Matthew found out his father also had orders.  It would become not only a long summer but a long year of uncertainty for Amanda and for those she care about.    

By the end of summer Amanda and Matthew were inseparable, bonded by knowledge that their fathers may not return. That special song soon became their song as they clung to each other for support in the months ahead.   

Matthew was with Amanda when she said good-bye to her father and she was with him when he said goodbye to his father. The next 11 months of watching the news and waiting for their father’s return would become unbearable.  During this time they found young love.  Their special song would be a reminder along with the ring Matthew gave to Amanda that summer for the promise of a young enduring love. 

Summer turned into autumn, then winter and soon spring.  Fathers were returning home and one day her own father came home.  The same day Matthew and his family got word that his father was killed in action. 

Soon after Matthew’s mother left the post and returned home to Pennsylvania and Amanda’s father was transferred to Washington state.  They wrote each other and spoke on the phone often.  Soon Matthew enlisted in the Army and Amanda went to nursing school. And at what always happens life got busy and soon they lost touch. 

Amanda never took off the ring Matthew gave her that summer, it was a constant reminder of a lost love and deep friendship. 

Matthew kept a picture of a girl next to him as he went from post to post a reminder of lost love and deep friendship.   

Every time a special song would play both Amanda and Matthew would think of how they found love in the summer of 1970. 

Years went by and Amanda got a new job at the Army Military Hospital where she once lived.  It would be there 10 years later that she will find love one summer afternoon at a lake. 

A young man, tall, confident with the deepest brown eyes she had not seen in over 10 years walked in, just as a special song began playing.   

As Amanda thought back to the summer day 45 years ago she felt the touch of the man who stole her heart in 1970, as he hugged her and sang along to the words. They had kept a promise of enduring love they made to each other all those years ago. 

Soon grandchildren came running in as the older couple continued dancing. In the midst of laughter and chatter from little children, they only saw the young lovers they were in 1970.

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The Brave Scotsman ~ a short story

Hamish
unknown source

The Brave Scotsman

The sun was shining and not a cloud in the cool autumn sky as Hamish MacGinnis took his yearly walk to the old cemetery at the edge of the village. His steps were slow and no longer full of confidence. Every year rain or shine for the past 70 years he paid homage to the Memorial that sat in the middle of old worn headstones and tall weeds in the long forgotten cemetery.

He remembered the day he marched off in 1915 to fight in a war that was to end all wars. The flag of Scotland held high and songs of victory filled the air as the train pulled away.

As he neared the old battered train station, a train sounded in the distance. Old man MacGinnis was transported back to that day in 1915 when he boarded a train to an unknown future.

Flags were waving and crowds were cheering as the regiment boarded the train. Hamish held his Annie tight as her tears fell among the platform.

With shoulders bent and thoughts of Annie’s last embrace, Hamish went back inside where men were playing cards, laughing and joking about anything but what lay ahead of them.

Little Bobby MacTavish was the first of many to fall.

He remembered that day when he was marching with Bobby talking about home both laughing at the memories of boyhood shenanigans. Out of nowhere a bullet came and Bobby fell.

Gun fire erupted from both sides and then all was silent. The eerie stillness sunk deep into the souls of the men. Silence. A word they all yearned for yet feared. Hamish laid Bobby to rest on a muddy field, with a faded old ribbon attached to the picture of young woman who will be left to mourn the memory of a lost love.

Men came and went, killed in unknown valleys and farmlands, a long line of young men he was afraid to know yet would always remember the men who will forever lay in unmarked graves and on muddy fields.

Three years later he came home to the bands playing, men from other wars shaking his hand, young boys asking to see his medals and pretty young girls ready to offer up forbidden kisses.

A hero had returned home as a young woman waited, holding her breath until she held him in her arms and tears once again fell on the platform.

A hero, no longer a boy but a changed man who survived hell to come home to an unknown world, nothing seemed familiar yet everything was the same.

A hero, to be remembered for that fateful afternoon in a faraway village…

As the last of his childhood friends died on a cold winter night in 1917 – Hamish felt as if a bullet found the depths of his soul where darkness and hardness had now taken root. He fought and killed as if he were possessed by evil himself.

In the fall of 1918 they came upon what was left of a Belgium village. Only one building was left standing. As Hamish drew near he noticed a movement in a curtain, he signaled for his men to stop. Moving ever so slowly towards the building – a church, he steadied his rifle when a little head stared back at him. A child. Then another child stood up and looked out the window, then another in a doorway. The child in the doorway saw him and came forward – displaying the beauty of innocence, as he was reminded of another time in another life when innocence shone in the beauty of his love.

In that moment he saw the flash, heard the mortar as it found its target beyond the church. Hamish felt a stirring in his heart and called out to his men to save the children. Grabbing the child he ran towards the building. Risking their lives they found a child’s refuge in a battle-scarred church. The men held their ground while fighting erupted all around them. Mortars fell short and bullets missed their mark as men from the Kings Army protected dozens of children in an abandoned church.

As the battle came to a close and the Germans retreated, Hamish and his men left the church and was surprised at the destruction all around them but the church was left unharmed. A little girl reached out and put her hand in his, and as she smiled up at him  it was there that Hamish found the shattered pieces of his soul he thought long destroyed.

Dozens of lives were saved that afternoon. They were lives that grew up to become men and women who would also reach out to a new generation of innocence, protecting Jewish children from the storms of another war in a safe refuge of an old battle-scarred church.

He entered the cemetery with the memory of that day filling his heart and remembering that little girl whom many say he was a hero for saving. But it was that little girl who saved him when she reached for his hand.

Laying his poppies down at the memorial, he heard the voices once again from the past, all calling out to him. Then he saw his Annie, also reaching out to him telling him it is time to come home.

A warm Voice called out, “welcome home my brave Scotsman” and as Hamish looked up he saw a brilliance he could not explain and the Voice called out “well done faithful servant”. Soon he was surrounded by the thousands of souls that were saved because of one man’s heroism to save the beauty of innocence in a world gone mad.

In the midst of all those souls, one hand reached out….

Patty B.  August 2014
flanders_field
unknown source

Writing Exercise – “Titles”

Last week my writing exercise was to develop an idea from a story title. It was a bit more difficult than I thought to come up with a story idea based on 4 words.  Not only did it get the creative juices flowing for this exercise but also for the writing projects I am having difficulty getting off the ground.  This was a fun challenge that was also beneficial in helping me get rid of my writers block.

Let me know what you think ~ I value your comments and suggestions.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

{artist unknown}
“The Heiresses of Hope”
 
Meet Anna, Marianna, Joanna, and Deanna Bradbury. When their parents were tragically killed in a boating accident in the summer of 1894 they became the richest and quirkiest citizens of Hope, Maine.  Throwing off their restraints and laying aside the conventional ways of Victorian society they set the Maine Coast on its heels.
 
Anna ~ who is always the one to do the right thing, finds romance in the most unlikely places.
 
Joanna ~ the writer with her head in the clouds writes stories on the eccentricities of the people from Hope, Maine
 
Marianna ~ who threw away her corsets and skirts and now wears trousers, rides around town on her bicycle making house calls as a midwife to bring in the next generation.
 
Deanna ~ one of the early suffragette’s speaks out for the rights for women and becoming the voice of those less fortunate.
 
Where will life take them? What joys and heartaches are in store for these 4 spirited young women? Join them as they find adventure, intrigue and romance in the coastal village of Hope, Maine.

The Sacrifice

This weeks writing exercise is to create a short story from one sentence –

“He threw their memories into the fire and he remembered the warning”…from his beloved, Anna before she disappeared.  “If I am captured you must leave Germany with your new identity and throw our memories in the fire.  You must save yourself.  Please Peter, do this for me and for the children.”  Peter remembered that night, when they put everything that was held dear to them along with a list of names into this box, so that when the time came for them to leave they would be able to grab it and move to a new life in a new country. He never thought he would be leaving alone.

**********

It was a typical evening at the home of Peter and Anna Mueller, after dinner they sat down to read before retiring for the night.  Peter will forever remember that knock on the door that started their mission to save Jewish children.

When Peter opened the door and saw his neighbor Rabbi Benjamin Kohen with two children.  He quickly motioned him inside and looked across the court-yard to make sure no one was watching.  In Germany you never know who your enemies were.

Rabbi Kohen quickly explained that these two children, Eva and Paul, had nowhere to go.  Their parents were taken today and they were able to escape by a back door and ran to him.  Could they keep him until he could get them out of Germany and to England?

Peter glanced at Anna who had tears in her eyes, they both were heart-sick with what was happening in Germany.  So they both agreed and took Eva age 12 and Paul age 6 into their home.  A few days later Rabbi Kohen came back and said he arranged passage for the children and he would be back that night to take the children.

Shortly after the children left Anna and Peter agreed they would help more children escape the death that would await them.  They knew the risks involved but also knew that God was leading them to help His Jewish children.

They met Rabbi Kohen secretly and told them they were willing to help.  Peter’s family has a farm and they had agreed to hide the children there until it was safe for them to move on.

So for the next year they would often go visit Peter’s brother Franz and his family to deliver their secret cargo.  Everything was going fine until the day the SS took Rabbi Kohen and his family along with the small Jewish community and burned down the synagogue.  As they watched the flames shot up toward the sky, they prayed for the Jewish people but knew in their hearts that their fate was sealed.

Peter went into his study and prayed.  He asked where God was, why was He allowing His people to suffer?  For the first time Rev. Peter Mueller had doubts of God’s plan.

After their dinner that night they both made arrangements on what they were to do when the SS would come for them, they knew it was only a matter of time, before they too would be arrested but they were determined to work to save as many children as they could while they can.

A few weeks later Peter arrived home to find four men in SS uniforms and some soldiers at his house taking Anna away and holding back two frightened children.  He held back but not before Anna looked toward him and with tears in her eyes she screamed, “The Lord is my Shepherd”, their signal for one of them to run.  At first Peter could not move he could not leave Anna, when she said it again with tears in her voice one of the soldiers hit her across the face.  With her bloodied face she nodded – he was to go and save more children.  He stood there hidden behind the large tree when he noticed the one soldier grab the children and threw them on the ground before shooting them. Anna screamed as they took her away and he knew he would never see her again.

His friend Dieter came up behind him and told him he must go now.  Anna had already explained to Dieter what they were doing and in the event one of them was taken he was to take the other to safety.  Dieter had a sister in Berlin and Peter could stay with her until he made arrangements to leave with his false identification papers. Their plan was to go to London and help the Jewish children and families relocate to England.  Now he must go alone.

Dieter gave Peter a box from Anna.  In the box were the names of the children and their parents so that after the war they would be able to reunite the families, along with letters, photos, and an edelweiss flower that he gave her to declare his love for her all those years ago – it was a box that contained their memories.

Before he left for Berlin he sent the list of names to his brother.  Franz knew to bury them somewhere on the farm where no could find it.  Franz was also to destroy the place that housed the children and some families in the event that the SS came to him.  Peter then took the box of his memories and sat by the fireplace in Dieter’s sister home and as he lingered over all the memories of his life with Anna, one by one he threw them into the fire.  He knew he could not take them with him because of his new identity.  As he held his wedding picture and the edelweiss, he could not throw them into the fire.  He placed both objects in his jacket pocket near his heart. He then got up and walked to the train station never looking back.

**********

Peter stood in front of this apartment building where his home once stood.  It has been over 50 years since he was able to return to this spot. It seemed like yesterday that he lived in the parsonage with his Anna.  Now his church and home no longer stood – destroyed in the bombings during the war. He never did find Anna after the war, although he searched for years.  She simply vanished like so many.  He reached in and took out the worn out photo, lovingly looked at it again thinking back of happier times.  He placed the edelweiss and picture on top of the flower bed in front of the building as his thoughts were of Anna  and her sacrifice so that many children may live.  When he arrived in London after that fateful day he was able to help save hundreds of more children from the destruction caused by evil men.

Turning to leave he noticed an older woman across the road.  She looked familiar as she turned to look at him, he just smiled and then walked towards his daughter Annie who accompanied him from London on his pilgrimage to the past.

**********

Anna was headed home to her apartment where her home once stood. She stopped when she noticed an older gentleman place something in the flower bed she lovingly took care of.  She planted red roses for her husband whom she was told died during the war in Berlin as he tried to escape to London.  He smiled at her and she thought for a moment it was Peter, but she knew he was gone.  After he left she slowly limped from the injuries she received from the interrogation and years in the work camp, towards her apartment.  She glanced at what the gentleman placed next to the roses.  She found she could not breathe….she saw an old worn photograph of a happy couple and an edelweiss flower ~ a single tear fell ~ Peter.