Got started late today – somehow I didn’t get the notification of Rochelle’s post and it took until now to go and look for it. I blame the tech, but it’s just as likely to have been human error on my part. Anyway, I’m here now, my story follow the prompt. It comes with a ***Language Warning*** in case you prefer to know in advance.
Casualty of War
We climb through glassless window frames and scavenge among the detritus inside. People lived here once, made it a home and perhaps even a happy one. There are kids’ drawings scattered in the kitchen. Where were those kids now? Safe, I hope. And far a-fucking-way. If they’re even still kids?
Are any of us? I remember sitting at a table like this, struggling over algebra. What does that matter now? If the enemy has X grenades and you lost Y comrades in the latest push, solve for who gives a god damn. War takes everything, but it starts with childhoods.
First off, I’m trying to decide if this photo is a rerun. I hope it is because otherwise I’m struggling with a serious case of deja vu. Maybe I’ll go back later and look.
I went through a few options for this story, the prompt felt raw and naked and I started off going down that route. The narrator initially climbed through the window in giggly excitement with a potential lover for some illicit teenage fun, but by the time he was inside, he’d turned into a child soldier. Perhaps in Ukraine, although there are plenty (read: too many) other times and places where our youth have been put in these impossible situations where the algebra just doesn’t add up.
My kids and I had a chat about child soldiers this morning. Dominic (7) who is fascinated by the war in Ukraine and feels deeply the injustice of the Russian invasion, said that Sebastian (10) would be able to go and fight if he was just one year older. I’m not sure where he’d got that idea from, but I reassured them that no, the army does not take 11 year olds as a matter of course, but admitted that, horribly, in some countries of the world, boys as young as Dominic might be taken to become soldiers. Dominic assured me that if this happened he would hide in the soldier’s jacket and we somehow segued into beheadings and Henry VIII and how Jane Seymour had died. All before my first cup of tea. Parenthood is incredible. But anyway I digress. I am ever grateful to live in a time and a place where nobody wants to cut off my head or transport my sons off to battle.