They attacked with banging guns and booming rockets, an unnecessary commotion, striking as though we were leaves on an autumn tree awaiting winter winds. Perhaps we were in our russet way?
Fall, some called it, the time when one generation made room for the next. Whether or not the giant oak wished it, all it had nurtured, its beloved children, were expunged.
We fell tumbling to the ground in swamped screams. They heard us though. Everyone heard us. And like the tree that bore us, our country, we’d be reborn. For leaves die in silence but their rustling echoes forever.
They did not fly, nor move more than but a few inches, even then just beak to beak. Twisting coils of white-feathered, serpentine necks, they adored each other with a perfection mastered over generations. Beautiful, they were, in a world gone mad, two cranes preening where children once played.
Their ferocity mirrored our own. Man for man, pound for pound, we tore into each other with a reckless abandon balanced only by the immovability of both. Stalemate.
Like deadlocked chess pieces all we had fought for had achieved nothing. Nothing!
Was this war at its worse were armies died without purpose? Or was that the purpose of war itself, to serve no purpose other than death? And for what? A field of lost flowers.
I walked away.
Sometimes their shouts of coward haunted me. Mostly not. It takes a braver man to see sense in the senseless than a fool to expound it.
Positivity flows between us like electric eels swimming upstream through unctuous sweat: electric, and hard earned. We blast away the toil in excessive bursts never before seen or expected. Loud is our keyword. Youth is our slogan. We wink and nod and laugh and scream. We’re ready. Bring it on. Turn up the music and to hell with them all. Then the bomb hits and we’re covered in glass. Well, it was good whilst it lasted and we’ve still a few minutes to go.
Daily: children playing football with bricks.
They came in waves. They would, they were made of water. A sloshing, spraying army of liquid leviathans, the creatures from the deep dragged and crawled, slid and skidded, their way onto the shore. We were waiting.
Like the rest of the population, I'd placed my trust in our esteemed leader for the last ten years even though he'd said or done little to warrant it. This was his time to shine.
"Turn the hose on them, lads!" he bellowed.
I just shook my head.
Midnight in the garden and the slugs wage war. An army of camouflaged assassins are taking bites out of the flowers with a reckless disregard for their longevity. A solitary snail stands guard over his patch of Eden, one Spartan against Xerxes’ horde. I don’t fancy his chances.
The battle is long taking its toll on both parties. Never has the midnight garden seen such intent, such vicious teeth-baring, such flaring from stalked eyes. Even the owl who nests in the great oak that backs onto the cemetery keeps his distance. He is wise, but not as brave as I thought.
Morning is almost upon us. The first tangerine glints of dawn flicker on the horizon. Flowers are waking in the colours of the earth, weeds, too. The owl is asleep. Our snail stands proud, undefeated, the greatest warrior the garden has ever known. The slugs will reach him soon.
They came as an armada of white bobbing atop the windswept waters. Even without a sun to cast bright rays upon them, they gleamed with a magnificence our best could not match. Prows raised, proud before our feeble defenders, they cut the waves in two without even trying. There was no doubt who’d won this day, and with it the battle, for it was over before ever having begun. Galleons of white-sided brilliance, the swans took the duck pond. It was a short war fought not in crimson, but in white.
The dog followed me home even though I peddled faster. It loped along barely panting as I huffed and puffed, a long-haired mongrel with a lolling tongue. He looked like Luke before the war took him. I loved that dog and told him so, as I should've done my brother.
Alice toes her work shoes moving them around the porch over the knots in the wood like poor man’s sandpaper. There’s a whiskey in her hand and a book on her lap; one is used, the other, not. This is her routine, her way to wind down, her escape. The radio plays on regardless of Alice’s mood.
Stevie’s singing Edge of Seventeen from the kitchen; a white-winged dove sits on the fence listening too. Alice watches the bird as it lifts off into a tree skittish before the eyes of a human. She envies that dove awaiting its mate; it may come. Alice looks to the picture she keeps on the wooden table he made before…. before…. His uniform sparkles in the twilight. For her, this is another day of many. There are so many other Alices out on their porches this evening, every evening, too many evenings.
The song changes and the dove flies away. Alice wipes a tear from her cheek and goes inside. She forgets her shoe. She always does.