Friday Fictioneers – Blank Pages

Photo Prompt © J Hardy Carroll

Spuggy had run out of time. I don’t mean he was dying. At twenty-four-years-old he had decades ahead. But the age into which he went to war was dead, and his story had ended, leaving him nothing but trekking stubborn through the years, dragging the prosthetic leg behind him.

Once, in the pub, Spuggy spoke about how that hurt. “The only time they ever talk about ‘our brave soldiers’ is the sodding dead ones.”

As he spoke, he drank, like he was firing and reloading a number 8 rifle, technically, methodically. His was a journal of blank pages on which no more words will ever be written for as long as he lives.


Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

70 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Blank Pages

  1. His perspectives on life will become a book by itself. I know a guy in his twenties, who lost a leg due to cancer, then lost his job and girlfriend. Instilling hope in him was a tough task. Bitterness has seeped in quite deep. It is the Why Me syndrome.

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    1. That’s really tough for your friend, Reena. I had brain surgery in my mid-twenties with a similar result. However, while my work life was never quite the same afterwards, I went on to meet my hu/sband who accepted me as I was and also saw me improve and make giant leaps forward. Being young and having these things happen to you is very hard to deal with. My grandfather lost his leg to cancer when I was a child and it always terrified me. Somehow, i think we need to prepare people better for the terrible setbacks that do happen in life and that many people are dealing with something, but you can’t always see it. These are really hard and bitter pills to swallow but people can move forward.

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  2. Spuggy is right, we remember the dead soldiers, we have memorials for the battles, do we remember those that lived through it and have to carry on with life? The expectation that they should fit back into society as though nothing has happened is absurd.

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  3. Great story, Neil. You make the point that Spuggy has lost all that really makes life worth living with considerable force. Like Sandra, I liked the comparison of drinking and firing a rifle.

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  4. Well done, Neil, especially for the light you shed on the difficulties returned service people bring home, even though they’ve survived the war. My Great Uncle fought in New Guinea in WWII and returned an alcoholic and he was quite violent towards his wife. He was portrayed as the black sheep of the family because no one connected his troubles with the war. It was only after I met my husband who had two uncles who had also served in New Guinea and returned alcoholics, that the penny dropped. While more attention is now being given to PTSD among returned veterans, I still don’t hear anything about how PTSD has impacted upon their children, many of who deserve medals themselves in my mind.
    BTW, I particularly loved this line: “As he spoke, he drank, like he was firing and reloading a number 8 rifle, technically, methodically.” It’s brilliant!
    Best wishes for another week.

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  5. Great story and writing, sad and so true. I like how you let the loss of limb represent how he lost the will, the knowledge of how to live. I can’t even begin to imagine the horrors those on the front lines go through.

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    1. Thanks so much. I didn’t mean that the loss of his leg deprived him of the knowledge of how to live, but that the country no longer thought of the war in the same way as when he’d marched off

      Liked by 1 person

  6. wow – sad and then got sadder – and the ending line was despair…
    yuk – and in my mind I tweaked it…

    He felt like he was a journal of blank pages on which no more words would ever be written…but tomorrow was another day” (or not)

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  7. A powerful story, Neil, of the misery of soldiers who return and are expected to pick up life as normal. We pay tribute to and honor those who die (which we should) but nearly forget those who return broken. I wrote a similar story. Yours includes powerful imagery and I hope someday he finds something to fill those blank pages.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. i’m sure there are others less fortunate then him. all he needs is to find a purpose in life and stop feeling sorry for himself. of course, it’s easier said than done.


  9. Such a poignant tale. The way he recharges his glass like a rifle is a wonderful metaphor. His future of blank pages, so sad to think on.

    Liked by 1 person

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