Friday Fictioneers–Homecoming

Posted: November 20, 2013 in Friday Fictioneers
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Each week I wonder:  Does Friday Fictioneers need an introduction and an explanation?  It’s really rather simple:  riff off the photo prompt with 100 words that make a more-or-less whole tale. Go to Hostess Twinkie Rochelle’s site, link up and start reading like mad to see what everyone else has created.  It’s an addiction, but there are many worse.  So join in or just read, it’s all up to you.  The linky guy can be found after my story.  Grab a cup of your favorite brew, sit back and enjoy the ride.  But be sure to expect the Spanish Inquisition, because nothing in FF is certain except death, lots of death.  Very few taxes, though.

Copyright Sean Fallon

Copyright Sean Fallon

Homecoming

The sirens wailed again as Annabel hurried through the darkness toward the air raid shelter at the children’s school.  Common sense dictated staying in a shelter near work, but she wanted to be with her family.  The harsh sound of the Junkers grew louder.  London glowed with fires, smoke drifting through the bomb-lit air, but the hellish picture was somehow imbued with a strange, terrible beauty.

Reaching the school, she slipped through the doorway with a sigh of relief, moving around people in the semi-dark, heading toward “their spot.”

Overhead, the whine of the bomb grew louder, piercing the air.

……………………………………….

The London blitz was a terrible time, but Londoners stood resolute against everything Hitler threw at them (or dropped on them).  The worst single incident was the bombing of a school being used as a shelter, where 450 were killed.  An episode of “Foyle’s War”, one of the best programs on television, called “The Funk Hole”, shows through a heart-rending story, a tiny bit of what that time was like and when I watched it again for the ??-th time, I knew I had to use that idea in a FF story and the photo of the mannikin in parts brought this scenario inexorably to mind.  My attempt is but feeble compared to reality, but then 100 words can be somewhat limiting.  🙂  A bit of description of the Blitz  can be found here: http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/blitz.htm and I urge you to look up “Foyle’s War” at the library or Netflix or wherever and watch every episode you can.

Comments
  1. Dear Janet,

    A wonderful use of the prompt. I always love a history lesson and this one takes the cake. You’ve spoken so much about Foyle’s War that I really feel the need to look it up. In any case, you’ve captured the moment in time well. I felt that I should run for cover.

    shalom,

    H. Twinkie

    • Dear H. Twinkie,

      Coming from a writer of historical fiction, I cherish the compliment even more. I certainly urge everyone to watch “Foyle’s War” for an in-depth look at the impact of the war on everyday people in everyday, yet extraordinary situations.

      Enjoy the sweetness of the day.

      Peanut Butter Cup

  2. Bastet says:

    I shiver to think of the constant bombings that people had to live through during thos years…great post, and very well written, thanks for the extra info too.

  3. I’m still shocked when I remember the cruelty things what happen in war. Together with the picture this story is worth to ponder about things what happened and people did.

  4. This is a touching and tragic story, and quite macabre when you take the picture into account. I enjoyed the historical aspect.

  5. denmother says:

    Such an interesting take on the prompt and I really enjoyed the picture you painted of the fear and determination Annabel was experiencing running through the streets.

    • Thanks very much. I started out with the idea of ending with a broken heart to go with the broken bodies, but veered towards the more subtle end. If I conveyed even the minutest bit of reality of the day, I’m pleased.

      janet

  6. elmowrites says:

    A horrible ending, Janet. As you say, always expect death. In the end, I think she would have been glad to be with her children at the end, but oh what a horrifying position to be in.

    • Is it better to die with those you love or continue on, mourning, but living? I think that’s a classic question and one difficult to answer. Answers vary, but those who choose the first, can’t weigh in.

      janet

  7. kz says:

    you did a marvelous job with painting the scenario. also grateful for the history lesson 🙂 and when i looked at the picture, the images became more horrifying.

    • If you get a chance to watch “Foyle’s War”, even one episode, you’ll have a much better story than I could ever tell (but then they also have 90 uninterrupted minutes.) 🙂 I’m glad the story worked!

      janet

  8. misskzebra says:

    “Nothing is certain in FF except death…” How true!

    Also, ghost stories, but I guess that links into death.

  9. Adam Ickes says:

    Brilliant story. I’d likely have done the same thing to be with my family.

    Love the last two lines of your intro also. 🙂

  10. Dee says:

    Janet, your tale brought back my grandmother’s stories of the bombs falling on her home in Hull. She braved air raids, the destruction of her home and the death of a sister before being evacuated with her children to a place of safety, she never lived in Hull again.
    London suffered dreadfully in the Blitz,but the ports also took a hammering.

    I’m with you on ‘Foyle’s War’ – Michael Kitchen plays the lead so well. I’m a huge fan of his. Thought you might like this – http://www.foyleswar.com/ and filming starts next year on the new series.
    Dee

    • Hurrah!!! I don’t ever want the series to end, although I’d prefer ten or more programs for each series rather than three. But I’ll take any number I can get. I’m off to check out the link. Thanks so much and thanks for the story about your grandmother’s experiences.

      janet

  11. H. Ken Abell says:

    You’ve created a very visual scene. Brilliant.

  12. claireful says:

    A great story. I’m sad that is seems it has a tragic ending. Well told.

    • I debated having her live and the rest of the family die or having them all die, but yes, to the extent that there is death, it’s tragic. It’s an unfortunate ending that was all too common during the Blitz.

      janet

  13. That was very well wrought. Not over wrought. I have just finished reading a fantastic book by Kate Atkinson, called “Life After Life” – It is about trying to change the world, but half of the book takes place during the blitz. It is heart breaking, but so realistic! Like this was.

    • I’ve read some books by Atkinson, but I haven’t read this one yet. I’ll have to get it at the library. To have my little story compared in an infinitesimal way to the realism in her work is quite a compliment. Thanks.

      janet

  14. Sandra says:

    A measured rendition of what must have been a terrible nightly experience. Well done, Janet.

  15. vbholmes says:

    A well-written vignette, Janet, about the horror families faced (and still face) during wartime. I’m a Foyle’s War fan as well–good show.

  16. draliman says:

    I’m glad she made it, especially since she risked her life to shelter with her family. I guess in such times things like family are what pulls people through.
    Well told!

    • I think you’re right about family. I think you’re the first person who didn’t assume that the bomb hit the shelter which, although I intended the latter ending, could still be gotten from the story, as I didn’t specify that it hit. Glad you liked it and hope your Wednesday is going well.

      janet

      • draliman says:

        Hee hee, it’s not like me to look on the bright side!

        Not a bad Wednesday I guess, thanks. Nearly over now, though 🙂
        Enjoy the rest of your day!

  17. DCTdesigns says:

    I always love the use of historical fact inside fiction. And here in the midst of the thundering madness she could be comforted in “their spot”. Beautiful.

  18. You conveyed it well, despite any limitations of space. I don’t know how people live through such hardship when I whine when I get a cold sore. “A strange terrible beauty” indeed!

    • I think hardship is relative, Perry (not “relatives”, although that might apply, too.) Things that we complain about during good times become trivial when life itself is at stake. Of course, there are always those who complain no matter the circumstances. 🙂

      janet

  19. Steve Lakey says:

    Your story illustrates the dangers on the “Home Front”, a part of the War that has received little coverage. I’m tempted to have a look at Foyle’s War thanks to your recommendation.

  20. This is superb writing. I followed her to the shelter with my heart in my mouth. I felt her relief. I now have to go and lie down after the shock.

  21. I enjoyed this story very much., Janet. Foyle’s War is such a great series. I think we’ve watched every episode twice. 🙂

    • We own all of them except for season 7, the most recent. Don’t know how often we’ve watched them but Bill and i are in the process of re-watching yet again. Just watched one tonight! So happy you liked the story.

  22. tedstrutz says:

    Your 100 words were just fine, Janet. I did not have to read past them… chilling.

  23. Linda Vernon says:

    That must have been such a scary time. You did a really good job of re-enacting it for us. This is a really good story!

    • Linda, I just caught your comment before heading off to bed and it’s a lovely one for my last comment of the day. I think they were scary times but people for the most part just went on living because what else could they do? I pray we never have to face anything like it.

      janet

      • Linda Vernon says:

        Oh me too Janet. And when you consider all the horror that people have had to live through in the past, it’s a good reminder for us to appreciate how nice we have it right here and now!

  24. Jan Brown says:

    Janet, well done!!! Not only do personal stories make history lessons more spellbinding and more profound; the horror, heartbreak and inhumanity of war and other societal actions (or inactions) are more clear to the student if they befall characters he has come to cherish.

    • You’re so right, Jan. History sans people is dull recitation. People make history and make it interesting and hearing or reading real stories about real or fictional people is really the only way most people will ever identify with and “get” history.

      janet

  25. hugmamma says:

    Takes me back to Greer Garson and…Mrs. Miniver. Love it…

  26. mike olley says:

    The trouble with bombs is they not only kill but leave a shockwave that lasts decades. And some of the WW2 bombs in London haven’t even exploded yet. Every so often we find another one of these past relics buried deep under foundations. As your story brilliantly points out, we could go at any time.

    • One of the Foyle’s War episodes included a story line about sappers, those brave or perhaps crazy men who went in to disarm unexploded bombs. Not a job for me, that’s for sure! Then there were bombs; now we have mines. So sad.

      janet

  27. Janet, such a compelling, powerful piece. I ended the story hoping against hope that she had found safety with her family… your history lesson, of course, dashed that hope. That said, the added history really gives new weight to the story. Really well done! Loved this one. Now I’m off to google some things. 😉

  28. Janet,
    Like you, I’m a history lover. I’ll check out your recommendation. And one for you, if you have not seen it yet, Oliver Stone’s The Untold History of the United States. I learned so much new history I didn’t know from this series. Great to incorporate a true story into your Friday Fictioneers contribution. Loved it. Ron

  29. Helena Hann-Basquiat says:

    You really immersed me in the scene as a reader — I didn’t feel lost or out of place, despite the unfamiliarity of the scene. I’ve never been in a bombed out city, but you made me feel that fear — the constant wails of sirens, the harsh sounds of the Junkers. Very nicely done.

    • Your compliment is much appreciated, Helena. Fortunately, I’ve never been in that situation either, and there were many Germans who suffered the same way during the Allies bombings. If I conveyed even the slightest bit of what it would have been like, I’m content.

      janet

  30. zookyworld says:

    She just made it! Wonderfully written to capture the reader — I was drawn in immediately. I like that you added a complexity when the character saw a “strange, terrible beauty” to London glowing. On a completely different note, great line about Hostess Twinkie Rochelle!

  31. I’m really impressed at the way you managed to conjure up such a powerful atmosphere

  32. brainsnorts says:

    how dare you not finish and leave me hanging!! well done. also – “their spot”. period inside the quotes.

  33. Kent Bonham says:

    Good job, Janet. A wonderful use of the prompt.

    You ever see the movie Mrs. Miniver? Great bomb shelter scene.

  34. My Nan used to talk about the blitz when I was young – thankfully for us kids, not in too much detail. Your story captures the essence of it beautifully.

  35. rgayer55 says:

    I’ve watched a few documentaries and read some about the blitzkrieg, but not in great detail. The Brits are definitely a tough people and I admire their grit and determination. Great story, Janet.

  36. julespaige says:

    Thank you for another glimpse into the war that my Father-in-law and some other relatives lived through. The ones who saw the worse spoke the least… about the horrors.

    Thanks for the visit – not sure if ‘David’ actually comes to life… left that bit to the imagination 🙂

  37. Well written atmospheric tale.

  38. Glynis says:

    This was well written, I joyed it as well. A fan of “Foyle’s War” myself!

  39. Janet, you certainly captured a startling account of history here. Remarkable piece.

  40. What an excellent take on the prompt… the bombers coming on schedule… an experience I would never want…

  41. emmylgant says:

    I winced and closed my eyes after reading the last line. Great story.

  42. sandraconner says:

    Really good job on the story, Janet. And it’s so important — maybe now more than ever — for people to be reminded of the horror that was WWII and the even worse horrors that made it necessary.

  43. annisik51 says:

    Foyle’s War is being repeated now on UK TV. It was a favourite of mine when first out. You touch on my personal history, Janet! My mother was shot at by a stray German airplane once as she returned home alone from school. (She was 14). Food was still being rationed when I was born and housing in short supply so my parents hopped from one in-law to another until our first house, which would have been considered uninhabitable today. These were my pre-school and early infants’ school years. I refer to that house as the ‘house of horrors’! It’s a wonder I am not permanently psychologically scarred. (Wait a minute, I AM)! Millions of pre-fabricated houses/bungalows sprang up. Relatives lived in one. I recall visiting. There was a documentary about pre-fabs on TV recently. People didn’t want to leave them in the end – they were detached, they have gardens front and back. They went into modern blocks of flats, with less space and no garden. And I have not forgotten WWI. My grandfather saw to that.

    • Ann, thanks so much for sharing that. How fascinating! We’re in the process of watching all the “Foyle’s War” episodes yet again and we love them just as much now as when we first watched them. I hope you enjoyed the story.

      janet

  44. jwdwrites says:

    Hi Janet I enjoyed your story, it reminded me of my childhood. Not because I was there (I am far too young!) but because when I was a little boy of 5 back in 1970 my parents took me to a city called Coventry where many of my family were from. As we approached the town we passed row upon row of derelict bomb damaged houses. I remember asking my dad what happened to them and he told me they had been bombed out during the second World War. The devastation was a moment frozen in time for twenty five years and gave me a lasting impression of the effects of war, if not the actual experience.

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