Wayback Wednesday Photo Writing Prompt
Write a story, write a drabble, write a poem, write anything. If this inspires you drop me a link to your post in the comments, or send it to me on Twitter.
I love it when I learn something from a frivolous TV show. I was watching Dirty Money and the brothers went to a Military Shop. The shop owner had tons of these metal casings with designs etched into them. During WWI soliders used the shell casings to make Trench Art. Some of the ones the shop owner had were really amazing. This story is inspired by this part of history.
A Gift From the Trenches
The damp earth soaked into Peter’s wool jacket. It was morning, the smell of smoke clung to the air. He remained still, praying that when he opened his eyes he’d find himself lying in his mother’s rose garden at home. His memory could not dislodge their fragrant scent and softness. It lulled him back into the parts of his memories where Kate’s red lips, as soft and vibrant as rose petals, roused his heart. Gunfire and shouts jostled him out of his dream. A young man on a stretcher bobbed past him. Blood splattered all over his clothes; part of his leg was missing. Peter shied away from the vacant look in his eyes. In the trenches red meant death.
A young solider next to Peter tapped his shoulder. “Take a swig Pete. It’ll set you right.”
The cold liquid felt hot as it trailed down his throat. Unused to the burn Peter coughed. “Where’d you get this?
The young man looked at his wrist. His smile turned into a frown. “Doesn’t matter.”
“Thanks Tom.” Peter handed it back. He knew Tom traded his Grandfather’s watch, but kept it to himself. Tough times.
The ting of metal on metal chimed through the smoky air. Down the trench a ways Peter noticed a hunched over solider. Every time his shoulder rose a ping sound followed.
Peter half glanced a Tom. “I’ll be back.”
Dirty, pale faces with dull eyes nodded as Peter walked by. Peter avoided making eye contact. Half of them would be gonners soon and he’d rather not mourn them, too many of his friends had died already.
The solider didn’t noticed Peter was standing next to him he was so focused on placing the metal punch in exactly the right spot. Peter watched him for a moment and was surprised to see he almost appeared happy.
“What ya got there mate?”
Peter’s voice caught him mid-blow. The rock and metal punch landed on his foot. “Oi.”
The solider reached down to grab it, his hands shook so bad Peter thought he’d never be able to grasp them. Down here in the trenches plenty of blokes got the shakes. Thankfully that hadn’t happened to him yet. To Peter’s surprise the man’s thin fingers scooped them up and the shaking stopped.
The solider looked up. His eyes still had some life left in them. “It’s just something I’m working onto send off to my girl back home.” With the other hand the man held up a large shell casing. Stamped into the metal were delicate flowers and vines.
Peter touched the soldier’s back. “Tis’ a beautiful thing.”
The man’s eyes gleamed. “So is she mate.” He picked up a plain shell casing at his feet and held it out. “I’ll trade, if you got any cigarettes.”
Peter knew he could find tons of casing out in the field, but he wasn’t about to go get one. He jammed his fingers into every pocket he could find. Empty. Empty. Lint. Empty. Cigarettes! Peter held out three mangled cigarettes. Seconds later the cool shell lay in his hand. Kate’s smiling blue eyes and red lips flashed through his mind. In this land of cold dirt where death lingered he’d make her something beautiful. A piece of art she’d always remember him by, if the blackness came to get him.