A Thread For Fan Writing, Fiction or Non-

Review and discuss fan fiction short stories.
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A Thread For Fan Writing, Fiction or Non-

Post by kf6eml »

I have posted a couple things on the board, either directly or indirectly through web links, and it occurs to me that we might find good use for a thread just for the odd short-short story, observation, column-style piece, or other item that neither fits in any existing thread nor truly deserves a whole new thread. If pieces are put here that deserve special treatment, they can be moved to their very own threads at the discretion of the administrator.

Ortho, If this idea does not fit with your plan for the site, feel free to delete it, and we can go back to posting elsewhere and linking for review, or just emailing submissions. I know the potential for spam and inappropriate postings can be a headache, and I won't take it personally.
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Re: A Thread For Fan Writing, Fiction or Non-

Post by kf6eml »

On The American Way of Life
An essay for Memorial Day.

I am a soldier.
I have served overseas and I have seen the enemy.
I have been shot at, and have hidden in a bunker as bombs exploded all around me. I have talked with other soldiers at some length; soldiers who have also been shot at, bombed, and mortared.
Not one of us was ignorant of the American way of life when we enlisted. We all know about backyard barbecues, where people gather to drink cheap beer and eat disgusting hot-dogs and hamburgers that may actually contain real meat... Possibly.
We know about the commercialization, where shopping has become more important than honoring dead soldiers. (Or a living Savior.)
We know about American Idol, which people find more important than paying respect to - or even thinking about - those who have fallen in battle.
We are fully aware of the ungrateful, the disrespectful, and the actively hateful people who have no interest in or respect for what we do.
And yet, we still do what we do.
So why do we do it?
The answer is surprisingly simple.
We do it so that people can have backyard barbecues with bad hot-dogs, good shopping, and yes, even American Idol.
We fight so that people can live the lives they choose without fear that somebody is going to tear them from their homes in the middle of the night - or as happens all too often in parts of the world, in broad daylight. We fight so that children never have to think about the evils that men can visit upon each other. We do it so that people can have their toys and their beer, and can say whatever they want, without worrying that someone will come along one day, waving their AK-47s, and take away everything they have worked all their lives to attain. This still happens in many parts of the world, and we fight to keep it from happening to our own people.
Many people complain that by participating in these very American activities - shopping, watching TV, barbecuing, and so on - that people are somehow dishonoring or cheapening the memory of those who have fought so hard to make this life possible for them.
I disagree.
I believe that every time an American buys a cheap toy for his child, every time he pushes the button on the remote control of his 60" plasma TV, and every time he buys a beer at a NASCAR race, he is honoring those dead soldiers by taking advantage of the opportunities that they have spent so much of their blood to win for him.
Any parent who has worked to give his child a better life than he has had can understand this. The parent struggles and sacrifices so that the child will never have to know struggle and sacrifice. The parent takes some pride and satisfaction when he sees that his child has it easier than he ever did.
Why would it be any different for a soldier?
Many people make a lot of fuss and bother about how modest and humble soldiers seem. "The quiet professional" is considered quite a compliment.
But look at it from our point of view:
We do our job for the purpose of preserving what we already know. It was our way of life long before we decided to go out and defend it. We know what we are buying with our blood and sweat. When we come home and see how Americans behave, we take a certain quiet satisfaction in knowing that we helped keep people free to enjoy the beach on a saturday afternoon, or pay too much for cotton candy at a carnival in the park.
This is especially true when we have been to places where such things could never happen; Places like Afghanistan, where religious fanatics sweep through town and demand either your money or your children to fight their battles, and if you refuse, they kill you and take your money and your children anyway.
In places like this, there is no money to support NASCAR races or carnivals in the park, because warlords sweep in wherever there is any prosperity and take all of the wealth for themselves. In places like this, people have no time to go to the beach because they are constantly working to produce enough food to keep themselves alive. Often, after they have produced that food, somebody will come along and take it from them. For most of these people, there is no hope for a 60" TV, a nice car, or decent medical care.
Soldiers who have been there have seen this for ourselves, and when we get home, we know just how good the average American has it.
I am not proposing that we stop rendering honors to those who have fallen in battle; Indeed, we should honor them more often than we usually do.
What I am proposing in this essay is that it is not any form of dishonor to their memory when we enjoy the the things that make us so uniquely American. Do not worry that people go shopping on Memorial Day, or get a little crazy on the 4th of July.
These are the things which make us American, and it is for these things that we willingly offer our time, and occasionally, our lives.
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Re: A Thread For Fan Writing, Fiction or Non-

Post by cstasheff »

A very eloquent and moving essay, k6emfl. If you don't mind, I'll circulate that to some friends who don't watch this site.

Keep writing.
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Re: A Thread For Fan Writing, Fiction or Non-

Post by kf6eml »

Thank you. I'm glad you found something in it.

I wrote it as a rebuttal to the great many people I have heard expressing disgust for all the things I mentioned. How often have we heard people asking how cake, ice cream, loud music and those bouncy-house things are appropriate for celebrating veterans' day? According to them, we should all tear our clothes (which should be made of sack-cloth) and put dust on our heads and wail all day long. Nobody wants to live like that, and if that were what we were defending, I wouldn't want to defend it!

Share it as you like, submit it to the newspaper, if you want, with or without credit. I didn't write it so people would know my name, but so that they might lighten up a little, and enjoy the holidays we gave them.
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Re: A Thread For Fan Writing, Fiction or Non-

Post by kf6eml »

I don't know if I ever posted this here, so I'll put it up for review.
This was written for Halloween over ten years ago

An Old Man And His Memories

The old man sat in a creaky old rocker in his attic, listening to the soft whisper of the heavy rain on the roof.
His eyes wandered unseeing about the small room, lighting momentarily on each relic there. Memories fluttered in his head like moths seeking a dim flame in which to immolate themselves.
He sighed.
The calendar on the wall indicated December 22, a cheerful "Happy Anniversary" scrawled across its page. As the silent clock next to it was correct twice a day, so was the calendar correct this day, though it had not changed in twenty years.
Shadows moved slowly in the dim room, in time with the movement of the lonely street light outside the window as it rocked in the wind. Dust motes stirred gently in the yellow glow, vague movement in the quiet air.
His joints creaked as much as the chair's as he leaned to reach into the trunk at his feet.
He extracted a brown and crumbling rose from the mouldering chest and held it to his nose, smelling its faint perfume, still perceptible even through the dust of ages. A memory of its glory of long ago.

She had stepped onto the Red Car, struggling to corral the cans and vegetables that were spilling from a wet and tattered paper bag. Immediately, he had stood and offered her his seat, and in a fit of gallantry, his coat as well, to use as an impromptu sack for her wayward items. Her eyes smiled at him, as much in relief as in gratitude, even as her face betrayed the fatigue of a long day. They talked as they rode, and then he escorted her to her door, holding his umbrella over her and letting himself get soaked to the skin. On the short walk, he had picked this rose for her, risking the wrath of the crotchety Polish woman whose prized flowers he'd molested. He said goodbye at her door, then, but not without assurance that she would be on that trolley again the next day.
He walked her home several times after that, even though it meant passing his own stop, and walking a mile back to his home.
Eventually, he had asked her father's permission to court her.
Another sigh, for memories of simpler times.
Just over a year later, they were married, on December 22nd.

As he reveled in this precious memory, his moist eyes fell on an old pair of ragged shoes hanging on a nail.

They had danced long into the night, that night, even after the wedding guests had departed. He had held her close as they swayed to the music, first of the strings they had hired for the reception, then of their own passion as they danced, wishing the night would never end. He remembered the perfume of her soft hair, and her laughter as he fumbled through the unfamiliar steps, often to the peril of those shoes.

He replaced the rose in its special place and sat up straight. Knobby hands gripped the arms of the rocker, and his eyes closed.

Her mother had given her this chair - made by her own father - as a wedding present. Long hours his wife had spent in it, before the fire, reading her Bible or knitting an endless succession of slippers or sweaters that he had taken a special pride in wearing.
Sometimes he would sit in it, and invariably, she would come and sit on his lap. Those were his most special memories, of holding her close to him as they rocked there, before the fire, her sweet scent filling his head with dizzy joy, and his heart with love.
A love lost to him for these years.

Salty moisture stung his eyes.
He opened them again, and they came to rest on a glimmer of light. He saw, as through a foggy glass, bronzed baby shoes resting on the warped wood of an old end-table below her dance shoes.

Wet hair clung to her sweaty forehead, and her now peaceful face glowed with exhaustion and relief. Her bright eyes opened and gave him a weary look of love, even as the doctor laid the small bundle on her breast.
His eyes brimmed even these years later as he remembered the slight noises his newborn son made as he held them in a careful embrace. He had never before felt such perfect love and joy, though he had felt it twice since.
Even the sharp scent of her sweat of exertion and the pungent odor of the doctor's medicines and ointments were dear memories as he sat in the dark.
His first son. Only son. How he wished he could see him just once more.

He peered now into the chest, and reached up. The rusty chain of the light rasped angrily in the socket and the darkness retreated into flickering shadow as the naked bulb swung on its wire and cast a stark glare on the room.
He extracted a large photograph from its resting place, and wiped the omnipresent dust from the glass with fingers the same yellowed hue as the picture.
Her face, young and smooth, smiled back at him. She stood in her dress, as beautiful as ever, his memory lending color to her rosy cheeks as they posed, arm in arm for the portrait.

Tears spilled over onto a face of yellowed parchment, tracing tracks on its sere surface.
The darkness returned, more profound than before. The picture returned to its place, next to the equally yellowed newspaper clipping. He needed no light to read the familiar words.

That morning.
He had awakened early, and held her quietly for a long time before rising, carefully. He loved nothing more than he loved holding her, but there were things to do, and he knew she would wait. Wouldn't even know he'd left.
He went out to the store to buy some coffee and the morning paper, and when he returned, found that his son had come to borrow the car while he was away. He had left a note on the key-hanger, explaining that he would have it for some hours.

A knock at the door.
His world changed forever.
Her bridge club had been planning an anniversary party in their honor, and on the way to the club hall one of the members had discovered their car upside-down in the river. It had gone off the road in the rain, and come to rest there.
The police found his son's body a hundred yards downstream, but had found no sign of his wife. The search was called off after two days, and the flooding river eliminated any but the smallest hope.
His daughters flew in from the coast to comfort their father, and he enjoyed the visit, but College would not wait forever for their return. He was left alone again, in his house full of memories.
The paper had dutifully reported the story, and he had saved the article, though it pierced him to the heart to read it, as he did each year on this day. The day she had died.
Slowly, over months' time, the memories, memories of her, migrated to the attic. It became a shrine of sorts; a new home for her things. Now here he was, again in her company, amidst the relics of her life. Their life.
The paper broke as he fingered it, and he set it down and wept for a long while, silently.

"Oh, my dearest love." His thready voice broke the still silence.
He smiled, tearfully, as he regarded her face, staring up from the trunk in the darkness.
"How I loved you."
A long silence answered him.
He sighed, heavily.
"And they never did find you."

He reached into the trunk.
He took her into his arms.
And he held her.
Last edited by kf6eml on Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Thread For Fan Writing, Fiction or Non-

Post by puddley »

That is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing that I have ever read. Having lost my wife of 40 years, I can well relate to the thoughts you expressed. Thank you!
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Re: A Thread For Fan Writing, Fiction or Non-

Post by kf6eml »

Oddly enough, I wrote it before I was married.
Now that I have enjoyed 13 years of deleriously happy marriage, it does have new meaning, even for me.

It was intended to be creepy, but I'm glad you find it touching.

Glad... or creeped out. Not sure.
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