The Welcoming by Sue Maynes

My eyes filled with tears. They were back, our men were back. Our heroes, our warriors. 

All the left-behind men and women of our village had met at the tarmacked road to greet them on their return to us. Everyone had dressed in their finest, as though to a grand ball. We wanted our men to feel how important they were to us.

Candles were flickering in the darkness. Everyone held a taper and the fluttering, sputtering lights painted the night as they were waved by a multitude of arms.

We heard the roar of the trucks and saw the head-lights at the same moment. The cheers and emotion were exhilarating. Laughter filled every ear, although a quick glimpse could catch a strained smile on many faces. 

We knew not which men would return, had not been told the numbers, no details shared. So the gaiety was hopelessly optimistic.

The trucks stopped in front of us, facing us, their lights still blasting into the night. Our cheers and cries slowly ebbed, as no men left the trucks, no officers snapped orders. Nothing. Just the engines and the lights.

The engines stopped, the joy ebbed, hands holding candles lowered, a few sobs shook the people’s bodies.

Marta stepped forward hesitantly. She reached toward the lights and the unseen driver, and all heard her hesitantly call, “Ivan?”

The lights dipped from high to parking. She was no longer harshly illuminated, now softly swimming in the misty glow. A truck door opened, slammed shut. Abrupt, harsh.

A voice in the darkness spoke, “Mothers. You must be brave…..”

The screams cut him off, he needed to say no more. The men were home, but would sleep tonight and forever, in the earth.

Such is war.

***

About the author: Sue Maynes

Lives in country New South Wales

Has an amazing family

Runs a facebook group The Commonwealth of Australia

Writes a huge amount of factual legal documentation for that group

Creates Paper Portraits

Has one writing award under her belt  – the CWA of NSW Garry Prize for an Essay. 

Is very new to fictional writing, currently testing all the Flash Fiction genres.

Is extremely new to poetry, having only discovered the New York School on the 24thNovember 2018.

Aussie Speculative Fiction published Sue’s poem ‘Luring‘ in December 2018, and her flash fiction pieces ‘Come and Get me‘ and ‘Just a Misdirection‘ in January 2019. 

***

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