‘The Skylark’ by Tom F

This is not a competition entry, but something that Tom asked me if I would post on his behalf.  It is also another very fitting piece of writing given the 100 year anniversary of WW1 and it has special meaning to him, as detailed in his email to me at the time:

It is dedicated to my uncle, Pte Thomas Frattaroli, Gordon Highlanders, who was killed in action 18th August 1944, in Normandy, at the age of 21. Liseux is a beautiful place, we have visited on quite a few occasions, took my dad there before he passed away (he also fought his way through to Germany and Poland, and survived, obviously). I can’t describe the feeling I got the first time I went, and saw my name on the gravestone.

Thank you for sharing this Tom and for your touching story.
Skylark-in-flight

THE SKYLARK

It was Lisieux, Normandy, 1944. Paris had been liberated and the Axis forces were retreating.

“Have a cup of tea, lad, then move over to the left to be recorded with the rest of your pals”. The British corporal was receiving German prisoners of war, listing name, rank and number, in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

The German soldiers were defeated and afraid, their slumped shoulders and shuffling feet reflected the fear in their eyes. They were thinking “What will happen to us? Will we ever see our families again? “

This one thought ran through all their minds. Only a few short years ago they were children, but the war had ravaged them, now they were battle–hardened men, but they still had their fears.

“Don’t worry, Fritz, we will look after you, and you are safe here, we will feed you as well as we can” added the corporal.

“Lucky sods, imagine the boot on the other foot,” interrupted one young Tommy, “they wouldn’t……….”

“Shut up, soldier!” the corporal barked “we are the British Army, the war is over for us and they are no longer a threat. Move on to the left.” he motioned to the German POW who was now slurping on his boiling, welcoming brew.

“How many now, corporal? “enquired the RSM.

“About three thousand, sergeant major. We are running short of space to keep them here, but I don’t think they are a threat, they have seen enough, just like us, and they welcome their peace”

“We will have to hope so, corporal”, the RSM muttered quietly.

“Sir?…….”

“We are on our own now son, they have moved on and left us in charge, ‘Awaiting Further Orders’. The local French officials will be coming soon to help with the organising of who goes where, but we shouldn’t be too long here.”

RSM John Kirk was a huge man, a Scot from the Gordon Highlanders, straight-talking and to the point. He was revered by the men serving under him, and respected by his superior officers. With him they believed they were invincible. As a career soldier, he should have gone further up the ranks, but he was content to stay close to his men. He had trained them for three years for this victory, and he wanted to be with them when they achieved it.

“Won’t be long now sarge. We’ll be off back to Blighty, and not like it was at Dunkirk. This time it’ll be on the ferry, china tea cups and a plate of cakes. ‘All aboard The Skylark‘ hey?” It was the young Tommy chirping in again. He was twenty one years old and hadn’t been at Dunkirk, too young. This was his first taste of action, but like all Britons he had learned of the horrors of retreat and the bravery of all those involved.

“First Saturday I get, it’ll be down to ‘Hat and Feathers‘ for a couple of pints with the boys, then up to see the ‘Spurs’. Up The Lillywhites!” he enthused.

John Kirk frowned as he looked the cocky lad up and down, obviously not one of his boys.

“Listen son,” he whispered threateningly “that’s a way off yet and you are still in the army,” the whisper increasing in volume “and while you wear the King’s uniform…. you call me SERGEANT MAJOR!”

The private snapped to attention, stretching his five feet six inch frame as far as it would reach.

“Sorry, SERGEANT MAJOR !“ his reaction direct from the parade ground.

“Stand easy, lad, I’m not going to eat you, just remember where we are. AND, if I’m ever in The Hat and Feathers, I’ll share a wee dram with you.” There was almost a smile on Kirk’s face, knowing he would NEVER take a drink in a London Pub.

“Now get amongst the prisoners, bring back the mugs and help out with the washing up. Good Lad!“

“SERGEANT MAJOR!” another perfect response.

It was at this point that the Commanding Officer, approached the RSM, he was a Lt. Colonel also from The Gordon Highlanders, and, at twenty four, ten years younger than RSM Kirk.

“I have spoken to the local councillors about the problem of overcrowding, and they have requisitioned the field directly adjacent to ours. We can have the prisoners moved into it as there is more room for them, albeit quite cramped, but it relieves our space a little. I’ve also spoken to the German C.O. Can you believe, he was educated at Oxford? He is quite happy to move too. They will not give us any trouble, they have nowhere to go, and if the locals got hold of them, heaven knows what would happen. We have about two hours of daylight to get that organised Sarn’t Major, they can have an armed guard overnight, you know the procedure.“

“Yes Sir!” barked Kirk.

“Thanks, but try and take things a little easier, John. It’s all over for us now, we have a lot to be proud of. We did our job. We ‘Stood Fast’.” The words were softly delivered, causing RSM Kirk to realize that for them, it was all over.

As the sun began to set to the West, a lone skylark rose from this corner of France, ascending slowly, singing his beautiful song of summer, whilst the ghostly shadows of the soldiers disappeared into the cool evening mist. Below him, the two fields, in St. Desir grew smaller as he climbed. In the British field, there were rows of white marble, akin to soldiers on parade. Next to them, divided by a low hedgerow and pathway, lay the German field, filled with smaller, darker stones, three times the number of those in the adjacent field.

At the entrance to each field stood a monument to many brave men, and resting by each, lay a wreath of poppies, with the words

“BROTHERS IN PEACE”

(c) Tom Frattaroli

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‘In the blink of an eye’ by Jan Strickland

gran

I am happy to share another entry for this month’s mini writing competition on the theme of ‘Memories’ from regular contributor, Jan Strickland, with a nostalgic trip down memory lane.  Thanks Jan and don’t forget that if you would like to join in, there are still 6 days left to contribute an entry for November.

MEMORIES

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE

I sit, saddened by the passing of time

but strangely not alone, not lonely

My life’s been a wonderful kaleidoscope of rhyme –

a positive life, not a question of ‘if only’

 

School days

Nativity plays

Pet hates

First dates

Holidays, jolly days of fun and laughter by the sea

Intimate meals with special people

All these are happy memories for me

 

I sit content in my special chair

and count my blessings, for I see

a lot of people within whose care

I am so very lucky to be

 

My family all grown up now

with lives and loves of their own to see

My clock ticks on, the grandchildren gather

“Tell us a story Nana”, they jump on my knee

 

So forget rheumatics, the odd aches and pains

The brain shutter clicks open to shower the wains

with memories of long ago, the funnier the better

Of their Mum or Dad, they want to know

Of the naughty deeds so long ago

 

And so I remember every small detail

to pass on to the children for this is their history

Part of their being is wrapped in my memory

Its life I am telling and not just a fairy tale.

 

(c) Jan Strickland

 

 

 

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‘In the fields of the flat lands’ by Jane Dougherty

poppies

On this special day I am very pleased to be able to share with you Jane’s beautiful and very poignant poem.  Such a tragic waste of human life – we will never forget and thank you for making the biggest sacrifice of all.

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New Writing Prompt For November….

Thank you to lassfromlancashire who has provided this month’s writing prompt of ‘Memories’.

I am now pleased to invite you to submit a piece of flash fiction (under 500 words) or poetry on ‘Memories’ and hope to see some thought-provoking pieces come in over the course of the month.

The closing date for submissions will be the 24th of the month as usual, and you will be able to vote for your favourite between then and the end of the month, with the winner setting the writing prompt for December.

Good luck to all who enter :).

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And October’s winner is………………

wiinners cup

After a close run thing, I am pleased to announce that lassfromlancashire is the winner of this month’s mini writing competition.  As winner she is now entitled to set the writing prompt for this month, and I will post it shortly so watch this space……

Hope you all had a happy Halloween – we did! :)

20141031_081937 20141031_175125 (1)

Posted in Award Nominations, Flash Fiction Competitions, Monthly Mini Writing Competitions, Online writing community, Stories, Writing, Writing & other stuff, Writing Blogs, Writing Prompts | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Back from a wet and windy October break in Arran so Voting for October is now open!

vote now

I’ve just returned from a rather damp short break on the Island of Arran, where I grew up as a child, and thankfully the weather did nothing to dampen my memories of such a special place.  What made it even more special was introducing my young children to the place where I lived when I was their age.  I always found it fed my imagination and I loved coming full circle and sharing it with my own family.

Reflecting the busy time of year perhaps there were only two entries to this month’s competition, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to choose a winner, …… although both were entertaining so it could be hard to choose between them!  Voting is now open so please vote and ensure that your favourite wins.  As usual, voting will remain open until the end of the month.

Who will you vote for?

Posted in Flash Fiction Competitions, Monthly Mini Writing Competitions, Online writing community, short stories, Stories, Writing, Writing Blogs, Writing Challenges, Writing Prompts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Send me your questions for Claire Hennessy, children’s editor at Penguin Ireland

elizfrat:

May be of interest to fellow children’s writers out there……

Originally posted on Lou Treleaven, writer:

I’m delighted to say I will be interviewing the children’s editor at Penguin Ireland, Claire Hennessy, in the next couple of weeks.   As some of you may have read on my Twitter feed, Penguin Ireland are accepting unsolicited children’s and YA manuscripts.  With that in mind I thought it would be nice to get some questions together from all of us rather than just me, so if you’d like to send a question, please put it in the comments section below, or if you prefer to be all mysterious and anonymous (perfectly all right if you do), you can email me your question at lou.treleaven@sky.com.

Claire is also the author of ten young adult novels and a historical children’s novel, plus she teaches creative writing, so I’m sure she won’t mind if questions veer on to general writing advice as well as Penguin.

Claire’s website is at www.clairehennessy.com and…

View original 11 more words

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The Ghost by Jan Strickland

bright lights

Thanks to Jan for her entry in to this month’s writing prompt of ‘Halloween Night’, which is a bit gentler than some stories that I’ve read for this time of year!  No spooky witches or zombies here, just a blast from the past!  I hope you enjoy :).

The Ghost

“So, I had just zapped my micro meal for one, changed into PJs and put my slippers on when the doorbell rang.

“Jamie, good grief!  Oh my god,  I heard you had died. Thought you were in heaven and all that?”

“Yes, well almost Gemma. But do you remember we made a pledge to each other, that whoever went first we would try to come back and tell the other what it was like? Remember?”

“Yes of course I remember, but I didn’t expect to be haunted by my ex Fiance, who I hadn’t seen for a couple of years, just because it’s Halloween! Plus, you look too good to be a ghost!”

“Well when we come back  still look like ourselves,” he chuckled.

“Oh, I see. Well, whatever, it’s nice to see you after all this time. So spill, what’s it like? Is it how we’d always imagined?”

“It’s wonderful! No clocks, so we don’t need to know the time, and in some parts, no windows, so we don’t need to worry about what’s going on in other places. Bright lights, dancing, lots of laughter, a few tears. So many interesting people too. Elvis, Frank Sinatra; well all The Rat Pack actually, and the food’s great!”

“Great food? In Heaven?”

“No you twit, what do you mean Heaven? I thought you were joking. No, I’m talking about Vegas!  I’ve been living there for the past year and it’s all I ever dreamt of! My idea of Heaven!”

“B b but I thought you were dead!”

“Dead? You numpty, I’ve never felt more alive! So alive that I thought I’d come back and tell you all about it! Well, what do you say? Fancy joining me in Paradise?”

– © Jan Strickland

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‘Scorton Spectre’ by lassfromlancashire

silver gown

Please welcome lassfromlancashire with the first entry into this month’s mini competition. She said that she wasn’t sure whether it counted as ‘spooky’, however I think it definitely qualifies!  Why not pop over and see what you think?………

© Esme

Posted in Flash Fiction Competitions, Halloween, Monthly Mini Writing Competitions, Online writing community, Spooky stories, Writing, Writing & other stuff, Writing Blogs, Writing Challenges, Writing Prompts | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Writing Prompt For October….

halloween

Thank you to AC Elliot who, as last month’s winner, has come up with this month’s writing prompt.  Given the time of year he has suggested ‘Halloween Night‘.  (I know, October already – yikes!)

As such, I invite you to submit a piece of flash fiction (under 500 words) or poetry on ‘Halloween Night’ and look forward to reading some spooky entries over the course of the month (lucky I’m not too easily scared ;) )

The closing date for submissions will be the 24th of the month as usual, and you will be able to vote for your favourite between then and the end of the month, with the winner setting the writing prompt for November.

Good luck to all who (dare to) enter :).

 

Posted in Monthly Mini Writing Competitions, Writing, Poetry, Poems, Stories, Flash Fiction Competitions, Poetry Competitions, Writing Prompts, Online writing community, Writing Blogs, Nature Writing, Nature Poetry, short stories, Writing Challenges | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments