Friday Fictioneers: Boots on the Ground

Posted: December 11, 2013 in Friday Fictioneers
Tags: , , , ,

We who participate in writing 100-word stories for Friday Fictioneers are endorsed by no less than Lord Polonius in Hamlet, who famously said:

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief:

And brief we are, although in some cases, the introductions and backstories more than double our flash fiction output!  To participate and get “the rules” as well as the prompt, go to the online home of Flash Gordon’s sister, Rocket Rochelle, and jump right in.  To dip your feet in by just reading, go to the end of my story (reading, liking and commenting fulsomely on it first, of course), then click on the blue critter at the end.  That will take you across the galaxy, through time and space, to a mad variety of stories all derived in some way, shape or form, from the photo prompt, although sometimes most tenuously.   Hold on to your hat and enjoy the ride.

Now before I reach “tediousness”, I shall end the introduction and become witty.  (I can but hope, right?)

Copyright Adam Ickes

Copyright Adam Ickes

Boots on the Ground

Alex being deployed overseas was always hard.  But those “special” postings meant I sometimes didn’t hear anything for days and, occasionally, weeks.  Whoever said “No news is good news” was clueless!   Always tamped down as deeply as I could squash it was the nightmare of two uniformed figures at the door, hats in hands, beginning expressionlessly, “We’re sorry to inform you…”

Walking back from the lake, I spotted an unfamiliar car in the drive. Deliberately stilling my mind, I turned the corner of the house… and spotted her boots in front of the door.   Thank God!  Alexandra was safely home.



As seems to be the story of my life recently, I’ll be traveling or out of town Friday through next Wednesday.  Being gone six of the fourteen days before Christmas means the others will rather busy, getting ready for family and a friend to be with us at Christmas.  That means virtually no time for reading/commenting, so if I don’t get to your story, it’s not because I didn’t want to.  It also means that I won’t be posting a story (same reasons) the next two weeks.  They will be devoted to family, friends and the celebration of the birth of our Savior.  Real life trumps the virtual, especially during this season.

May this be a time of blessing for you, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, a time to share with those you love, and a time of blessing both in ending this year and in 2014.

  1. Sandra says:

    This must ring true for so many families. Very well done Janet – I liked the idea of tamping down worries. If only I could master that…

  2. atrm61 says:

    What a relief to see those boots and I liked the lil twist in the end of Alex being Alexandra in reality:-)Happy Holidays and enjoy your family time:-)

  3. I stopped my breath before the last two sentences :o) I hope no one will get this sorry letter….

  4. Dee says:

    Still busy,busy !!
    Glad there was good news at the end, nice touch that Alex turned out to be Alexandra.
    Enjoy your family time, will catch up with you before Christmas.

    Dee 🙂

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the story, Dee. I’ve departed from my usual upbeat stories quite a bit, so thought it was time for one, especially given the season. As for family time, I’ll enjoy it and part of that is paying attention to them and not the laptop. But I’ll be in touch with my online friends, too, and feel free to touch base any time. I’d like that.


  5. high five and raspberries says:

    So many families will not see their loved ones home for the hollidays ..I am so glad that your fictional family did. I bid you peace and joy . Namaste

    • I feel bad for those who will not be with their families at Christmas for whatever reason, but especially those for whom a call or visit might mean something terrible. The families give so much as well as those who serve. Have a blessed Christmas season, filled with fun and love. Drop in to say hello at any time. You’re always welcome.


  6. Lynda says:

    Janet, I enjoyed your disclaimer as much as I did your story this week! Having been in the military in the 70s it is hard for me to envision a woman in battle fatigues, and yet it is a reality of our current time, and therefore your ending was a surprise.

    • Lynda, first of all, thanks for your service. Secondly, I have a hard time with women in combat because, and this might get me flamed from some, I believe men are hard-wired to take care of women, a good thing, and that can be a problem. The possibility of being captured and raped is another issue. Thirdly, glad you enjoyed the disclaimer as well as the story. 🙂 Always nice to see you.

      who’s working away, a story at a time

  7. paulmclem says:

    Reeled me in there. Reached the end and thought “Who the heck is Alexandra”…the penny duly dropped!

  8. Honie Briggs says:

    Happy holidays, Janet.

  9. draliman says:

    I liked the Alex – Alexandra twist at the end.
    I can’t imagine being on the receiving end of that dreaded visit.

  10. Ye Pirate says:

    Very clever, that was a surprise at the end causing reflection.

  11. Amy says:

    I don’t know how these families live through the holidays….
    Merry Christmas to you, Janet!

    • Same to you, Amy. I’ll still be blogging during Christmas, just not doing FF, so feel free to drop by. As for families with someone serving, Christmas/the holidays has to be so difficult. If I knew any of them personally, I’d try to do something, but there are always ways to help.


  12. i’m glad that the story turned out to have a happy ending.. also loved the double twist of Alex being Alexandra. Real life trumps the virtual, so true. have a Merry Christmas 🙂

    • Merry Christmas to you, too, kz. I’ll probably see you during the photo challenges. I was ready for a happy ending but had to get a twist in, too. I’m happy you like what I did.


  13. This was like a nice double twist.. first the joy that we were not in for a disaster and secondly that Alex was Alexandra…

    You take care and enjoy your time off.. will probably be a little bit less active myself

    • Bjorn, enjoy the season. I imagine you have plenty snow to put you in a festive mood. We have enough to be beautiful but not enough to be a problem–just perfect. Drop by any time, I’ll still be here, just not FF-ing.


  14. Rob says:

    Hi Janet! Thank you for visiting my blog and welcoming me to the Friday Fictioneers. I love your story. My heart sank when the unfamiliar car was in the drive – and yay – a happy ending 🙂

    A nice disclaimer. Merry Christmas!

    • Merry Christmas to you, too, Rob. Thanks for the return visit. I know we’ll be seeing each other again after Christmas because FF is an addiction. 🙂 I’m happy you liked the story, too.


  15. Enjoy your break and the celebration of Christ!

  16. Glynis says:

    I enjoyed this a lot, and like the twist at the end. Not many people think about our women in the armed forces putting their lives on the line right beside the men. They come back with the same injuries but not met with the same help. That should change. Nicely done.

    • Glynis, even the men don’t seem to get all the help they need, which is also sad. And mental injuries are sometimes the worst. I’m not a fan of women in combat for reasons I mentioned above, but I certainly respect and appreciate those women who serve in whatever capacity and agree that they should be treated equally when in need of help as well. Glad you liked the story, too.


  17. I’ll miss your stories, and feedback, Janet; but, happy holidays! This was a wonderful story that took me one way and happily delivered me another. So grateful for your ending, with so many less happy ones out there. 🙂

  18. emmylgant says:

    Very well done. And I like a happy ending!

  19. Jan Brown says:

    Janet, this was a lovely story. You perfectly captured the very real suspense that military families deal with everyday. And how nice that the twist at the end was a happy one!

    Hope you and yours have a blessed Christmas! Will be looking forward to your continued stories in 2014.

  20. Dear Janet,

    I’ll miss your stories the next couple of weeks but will be praying for your safe travels and happy times with family.
    I breathed an audible sigh of relief when the strange car didn’t bring two uniformed bad-tidings bearers. Loved that it Alex is Alexandra. True to life and well written.



    • Many thanks, Rochelle. I’ll miss FF, but as Ahhhnold famously said, “I’ll be back.” (Just can’t get the accent in here.) Thanks for the prayers. They’re much appreciated.


  21. J. Milburn says:

    Thank you for this story. It speaks to what so many families have to go through. Glad Alex came back home safe! Great work!

    • It’s my pleasure and I’m pleased you liked it so much. I have so much respect and sympathy for the families of those who serve. I wish I could do more.

      Have a wonderful Christmas and I look forward to seeing you here again.


  22. Enjoyed this…nice twist at the end. My heart breaks for all the boots that will never return. Have a Blessed, Merry Christmas, Janet.

  23. Flash Gordon’s sister? I think it’s time you came in out of the snow on your blog! Cool story, which had me fooled but reminded me once more that great sacrifices are made by men AND women in defending our country and other difficult duties that most of us don’t want. Have a great holiday and watch out for Emperor Ming’s sister!

    • Perry, all joking aside, I’m glad my story reminded you of what many give up so that we’re able to enjoy the many freedoms we do, including the time and wherewithal to have computers, be on the internet and do things such as FF. Happy holidays to you and yours, too.


  24. Bastet says:

    Great read…and a wonderful happy ending, this time, sigh.

  25. Hi Janet,
    You pulled off a double barreled surprise in that final line. More importantly, you captured the stress of those who have loved ones deployed in the war zone. Great take on the photo. Hope your time with your loved ones is special and magical. Ron

  26. brainsnorts says:

    i didn’t see that coming, so that’s my bias i suppose. did you think about keeping “alex” at the end instead of “alexandra” and letting “her boots” be the key? have to admit that i missed “her boots” the first time i read it, and i was going to suggest “she was home” at the end.

    • Rich, I did think about not putting in Alexandra, but decided to leave it. I thought about not having a name at all, but figured it was more misleading to have a name that could go either way. I don’t think it’s your bias showing; I hope it’s that I did a good job of bait-and-switch. 🙂


  27. plaridel says:

    it only goes to say most of our worries never happen. 🙂

  28. You totally nailed it again, Janet. That not knowing is definitely not easy! Love the unexpected reveal about Alex, too. 🙂 Glad festive, Christmas and New Year tidings to you and yours. 🙂

  29. Lovely story, Janet. Enjoyed reading it. Have a lovely Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

  30. yarnspinnerr says:

    Wonderful twist.

    Enjoy your trip.


  31. hugmamma says:

    A happy ending that every military family deserves…especially for the holidays.

  32. sandraconner says:

    A really good story, Janet. The buildup of emotion is there from the beginning, and the reader is so “with” the main character that the happy ending is a flood of relief. I hope a lot of military families get a similar gift for Christmas.

  33. JackieP says:

    Nice story Janet. A good twist in the end with the name. Seeing those boots must make lots of parents sigh in relief.

  34. rgayer55 says:

    Guilty as charged regarding lengthy introductions, although most of my pre-story rambling has nothing to do with the prompt or the actual story. I enjoyed yours tremendously and can only imagine the anxiety of those who have loved ones deployed and the joy and elation that comes with seeing them return home safely. Here’s wishing you, Bill, and the family a safe and happy Christmas season. Enjoy your loved ones!

  35. Great story, Janet. Have a wonderful Christmas! Enjoy your family and be safe.

  36. Joe Owens says:

    Yay for Alexandra! A nice and unexpectedly sweet twist.

  37. kerrieanns says:

    Great story! The fear that so many people have to cope with every day, when their loved ones are put in harms way, comes across well in this flash fiction.
    Happy holidays 🙂

  38. I can’t imagine what it’s like for families in wartime, always waiting for something and dreading that visit from sympathetic officers. I’m glad it has a happy ending here.

  39. Great bit of tension here and a clever ending.

  40. Well written, well developed, neat little twist.

  41. tedstrutz says:

    I liked this simple tale. Have a Merry Christmas, Janet.

    • Same to you, Ted. I’m looking forward to writing for FF again in 2014, although for several weeks I’ll be visiting my parents, who don’t have internet! Makes the virtual life much more difficult. 🙂