Saturday 7 September 2013

Short Story - Simplicity by Sarah Bird

Image Credit: Adam Woods
Sarah Bird was the second prize winner for August's short fiction contest. You can read here story in full below. If you haven't read the other winning stories yet then you can find them here:

I've created a new Facebook group for writers to share their short stories and flash fiction, it's also open for readers so they can discover the same. Come join the fun at:

Simplicity by Sarah Bird

I remember that night. October fourteenth, with the autumn winds whipping our hair and the leaves fading to brown before our very eyes.

Everything was simple back then. All that mattered was that I had you, and you had me. We laughed and ran through Papa’s fields, the bristles of rye sticking to our clothes. You chased me through those golden fields and every time you caught me within strong arms you treated me to a kiss then let me go to run off again.

The days felt as though they would last forever and the nights belonged to us. In the dark of midnight we would sit in papa’s barn, high up in the rafters with the hay and the machinery below. We loved best to talk about our future.

That night you had bold plans. Your conscription letter came, you trained and suddenly it was your last night, that fourteenth of October. We sat in the hay loft, the stifling warmth from the straw and the Indian summer we were having made my head fuzzy, or that could have been your kisses. You kissed me all night long then we lay in each other’s arms as you told me about your new future.

Instead of getting a farm of our own you talked about war. You talked about “the boys” and duty and honour. You were going to change the world and make it a better place.

All I wanted was you. I didn’t want you in the trenches on the front line. It was bad enough with the bombs that fell too close for comfort; I didn’t want you in their country.

But you had that light in your eyes and no talk of farms and marriage could change your mind. We spent that night hidden away from prying eyes and when I woke up in the morning the hay was warm but you were gone.

I went on as usual, how could I not? I cherished the letters you sent me and I always wrote back the same day.

Then the letters stopped. And so, eventually, did the war.

You never came back.

Papa’s health failed and we gave up the farm, but the new owners just let it go to rot. So on October the fourteenth each year I come back here.

Today is the fifth October the fourteenth since you left. The barn is falling to pieces; the roof has holes and the machinery is naught but rust. But I climb the rickety wooden ladder to the loft and I sit in the decaying hay and think about that night. When everything was simple and perfect and we had a future.

That’s when I see the bundle of letters tied with a ribbon. I pluck them from the mouldy straw; they’re the letters I sent to you.

‘Sorry I took so long,’ you tell me, from your hiding place in the dark shadowy corner. ‘But I’m ready to get that farm now.’

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