Rataplan

Avatar Author: lastsyllable Who wants to be a writer? I do! Read Bio

Reese’s body shook with staccato beats he could no longer tell apart. Rain rattled against metal sheets, thumped against tarps. Machine guns fired. Bullets struck concrete and sandbags, hard earth and soft flesh. His own heart drove blood through his brain, which pounded with the mother of all headaches. The world was a brass band with him nestled in the kettle drum.

Sergeant Green shouted at him, but he couldn’t hear it. All he heard was banging, booming, until an explosion behind him mercifully stifled all sound. Silence. Silence and a fiery pain in his leg—

“Grandpa?” a tiny voice said.

Reese looked down and there was Evelyn, her tiny hand folded into his. “Yes, sweetheart?” he said, voice catching in his throat.

“I said aren’t the fireworks pretty?” She smiled up at him, her dark eyes reflecting the brilliant colors overhead. He smiled back.

“They’re beautiful.”

A few minutes later the show was over, and Reese limped over to where the rest of his family waited with iced tea and hamburgers.

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Comments (17 so far!)

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  1. Avatar Soco

    Aw, I loved this.

  2. Avatar Olivaw

    I’d change the word “progenitor” to “mother” since that smacks a little of flaunting one’s vocabulary, but other than that, I liked it.

    Appropriate for the day, too!

  3. Avatar Centipede Damascus

    I really like it! The description of the battle at the beginning seems to have a lot of “blank and blank” phrases, which seems to break up the action. That’s the only real criticism I can think of.

  4. Avatar lastsyllable

    I had “mother” first but changed it because I liked the alliteration. Is it really too pretentious? Meh.

    CD, let me see what I can tweak there. Thanks.

  5. Avatar Yuriy Zubovski

    5S, very well themed with the day, and much closer to the reality of such holidays than what the commercialized populace is used to.

    I’d go with mother as well – the alliteration didn’t catch my eye.

  6. Avatar lastsyllable

    Mother it is, then. Thanks.

  7. Avatar Edcrab

    I like the rhythm of that opening, and the stark (but pleasant) contrast of the ending. Maybe it’s because I’ve got a few veterans in the family, but I really liked this one!

  8. Avatar A Dabble of Thelonious

    I dig it.

    Question/thought. How would you feel about breaking the opening up into even shorter bursts. The paragraph as machine gun fire. Explosions. Death. Words as warfare.

    Not saying change it. Just want your thoughts.

  9. Avatar lastsyllable

    Ed, I did worry about this degrading into something maudlin but I guess sometimes that’s okay. I’ve got vets in my family, too; my grandfather’s brothers all died in WWII so they did a Saving Private Ryan and sent him home, and my dad’s cousin went schizo after Vietnam.

    Thel, this actually started as a poem and I was going to attempt what you are suggesting but thought it would be too much. Let me mess with it and see how I like it. Danke.

  10. Avatar Anonymuncule

    You know it’s funny, fireworks and ordinance both put on spectacular displays at night. I’ve seen them first hand and I have to say I can’t watch either one without thinking of the other. The good thing about fireworks displays is that they rarely result in mass fatalities.

  11. Avatar Marli

    This was so dramatic and so sweet .Enjoyable. L.S.

  12. Avatar Wednesday [PJ] ((LoA))

    I agree with everyone above. This si stunning and painful and sweet and beautiful and everything you could want from a story.

  13. Avatar ElshaHawk (LoA)

    oh, this is so awesome! I’m glad its featured! Patriotic indeed. :)

  14. Avatar lastsyllable

    Thanks so much, everyone, I’m really glad you enjoyed it. DH, I hope I was able to communicate your experience effectively. The rockets’ red glare indeed.

  15. Avatar N. Robertson

    Comments agreed with. Only, the end seemed a tad rushed (the walking over to the hamburgers part).

  16. Avatar code dreamboat

    opening paragraph is really great. Hard to believe you can paint such a vivid scene so quickly

  17. Avatar Alexa Reed (LoA)

    Very nice dichotomy setup between his flashback & his current reality.

    Also made me think that maybe we should stop using fireworks to honor our vets.