Seeing the Elephant

“That was my Uncle Robert’s musket. He leaned it there in the corner when he got back from the war.”

At the time I was too young to have the questions I wish I had asked, that I come back to wondering about decades later. One of 35,000 Vermonters who had gone to see the elephant, surely her beloved uncle told her stories of adventure and strange sights, but maybe didn’t talk about the battles. Maybe he was as silent as the sentinel musket that he had returned with to the family home but would never take up again.


Robert was practically running now.

He would have missed sugar season, but his father would appreciate his help with spring planting. His father wouldn’t ask him, as the man on the train had, about the Battle of the Wilderness.

Soon he’d be eating Ma’s cooking, would tousle the hair of his baby brother, six now, teach him everything there was to know, would have him driving the team, set him up with his own team of oxen. Robert ached to again work the farm, to mesh with the seasons.

Almost home; soon he would set this damn musket down.


Written for Carrot Ranch November 16, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) use the word mesh in a story. Mesh is both an object and a verb, which you can freely explore. You can play with its sound, too. Go where the prompt leads. Respond by November 21, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published November 22). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


10 thoughts on “Seeing the Elephant

    • When I was maybe eleven I helped an old woman with spring cleaning and yard work. Her house wasn’t very different in it’s furnishings than if it’d been a hundred years prior. I asked about the musket in the corner. It was only later that it hit me that what I considered ancient history, the Civil War, she had a direct line to. I wish I had asked more of this woman. Her house was alive with her family that had built it and lived in it and whose artifacts she kept.
      I fictionalized her uncle’s homecoming. Charli’s prompt had me more on returning soldiers than mesh screen, I almost forgot to include that.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This reminds me of when my FIL passed. He’d brought home a trunk from WWI that his wife didn’t want to open. And so it had never been until after his death. Some wanted to sell the contents. But my hubby suggest it all stay together. Now it is in our home. I do wish that we had been able to ask about it when he was living. The only stories he ever did tell were the good ones…

    But I think it was also a generational thing. When another family member on my side had passed (when I was very young) it was as if they had never existed. No stories of their youth shared. Sad to think of all that was lost, good and bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a powerful icon, the musket abandoned in the corner, yet holding a place of respect. Like you, D. I spent time in the homes of old-timers in my town and soaked up plenty of stories, but wish I had more time now to ask questions. I really enjoyed how you crafted the telling of this story.

    Liked by 1 person

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