six sentence story.jpg Robert reckoned that the man sitting across from him on the train couldn’t imagine anything worse than The Battle of the Wilderness. He allowed as how he’d fought in the Wilderness, then, feigning sleep, closed his eyes on the questions, tried to close his mind to the answers, tried to bring his thoughts to the family farm, to his apple trees, to finally returning home.

But even now, on the train that chugged steadily north to Montpelier, his thoughts went, as was their habit, back to when he had worked in the field hospitals. There were indeed horrors greater even than those of battle; sights and sounds and smells that Robert sorely wished to forget. Robert wished to forget putrid air thick with the smell of filth and gangrene, ringing with the sounds of delirious men screaming and moaning; wished to forget gathering amputated limbs from the dirty blood soaked floor where they fell, stacking them like cordwood on the wagons or just chucking them in a pile outside the makeshift hospital.

Robert forgot how he’d left Vermont with his regiment four years back with a notion of returning as a man, a hero, for now he just wanted to run to his ma and his pa like a little boy waking from a terrible nightmare, in need of comfort.


The prompt word for Six Sentence Stories this week is “habit”. Thank you Denise from girlieontheedge  for the prompt. Go to the link up to participate or read other responses. My entry this week features a character seen before in  Seeing the Elephant and in Scion.

17 thoughts on “Reckoning

  1. Good war story. (Not that you asked, but! I really find Civil Re-enactors (or, rather their activity) offensive. (But then again, they are mostly rogers, so let them lose their souls.*)
    Even without having served in the military, it doesn’t take a huge leap in perspective to appreciate that there is nothing good about war. Absolutely nothin!**
    (Maybe if I keep writing I’ll run out of cultural references and have to come up with something original.)
    Surely if knowledge was the apple in the Garden, it’s use in perpetuating the notion of war having qualities of honor or virtue is the work of a very real devil.
    Kinda of what I find… not necessarily offensive in and of itself, rather its the lack of discrimination on the part of the person perceiving that re-enacting war to be a worthwhile and worthy endeavor. At least the way they do it on weekends. Probably hardly anyone loses a limb to gangrene while camping in some State park full of blue porta johns and wifi.

    So heres a question totally un-related. I’ve gotten it into my head to try to write a Y/A novel. A murder mystery (social misfits bond and solve adult mystery). Is it the rhythm of the narrative that makes Y/A or is it language and context?
    I could look it up but reading about how to write depresses me lol

    *yes, Godfather I
    ** Edwin Starr

    Liked by 1 person

    • What do I know? Not much. I am not even sure what age group is targeted by “Y/A”.
      I’m guessing rhythm has to help, like it has to be readable and appealing to the inner ear and voice, but what “makes it”? Story itself? (Plot, pacing, tension) Characters that are believable and endearing? Young adults need and demand a good story as much as the next reader and are very savvy to writing that is not relevant to them, that is inauthentic or overwritten. Read YA stuff, go to your local and even school libraries and check it out and see what they are reading.


      • Yeah, makes sense. Have started sampling through kindleville for top sellers. (‘Course I’m of an age that seems to retain a bias against indie publishing, at least compared to traditional.)
        I will maintain the double conceit that I remember (what it was to be a Y/A) and that it (those experiences) are universal, at least from a chronological perspective. It’s just a question, as with any genre, of developing the skills to match the story.
        Will be interesting, both in my writing and sampling of current examples of the genre, is that matter of relative sophistication vis a vis points in time for a culture. My memories of Y/A are of Tom Swift Jr, the Hardy Boys, Bullfinch Mythology and, of course ,L’Engle and CS Lewis. (That might be the answer, the reader, Y/D or O/C will seek stories appropriate to satisfy their nead to read, irregardless (lol) of their age group.
        To paraphrase Castanada, as long as I produce a ‘story with heart’ they will read it.
        Thanks for the suggested reframing of my question, that always seems to help.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So much history tucked away in your six sentences. Reading a SSS like this makes me think, what am I even doing here among writers who obviously have so much more talent. However, if you don’t mind, I want to keep learning from such as yourself others in this blogging world, and to keep trying, one word at a time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pat, I am not sure how to respond. Thank you for the compliment, and know how grateful I am to you and the rest of the gang who let me in and write and read every week. We are all learning from one another. I have certainly enjoyed your six sentence stories every week and marvel that you have managed one every week. I have not.
      I am glad if you think this story works. This one arrived in fits and starts and do-overs.


    • You’d think any one of them would be enough to learn from. The Red Cross, ambulance services, and improved hospitals and sanitation were developed and improved during the Ciil War but really, it wasn’t so civil to have that kind of supply and demand for those services.


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