Having finished a first draft of my middle-grade novel, I am awaiting editing comments from a beta reader. I’m not ready to delve into another large project, but I do enjoy continuing to write fiction. Thankfully, there are some great short fiction challenges out there. I am eager to try the 5-Minute Fiction challenge that Leah Petersen hosts every Tuesday, but once again I have taken on a Flash Fiction challenge from Haley Whitehall.
Here are the rules:
- You must start your story with the sentence: ”He should have never been there in the first place.”
- The story must be 500 words or less.
- Your story needs to have a clear beginning, middle and end.
The challenge ends June 1st.
He should have never been there in the first place, Matthew thought, holding the cloth tightly against the wound on his brother’s leg. The Conscription Act of the Confederacy designated eighteen as the earliest age to serve, but Matthew was seventeen – old enough to know what he was getting into.
Meanwhile, Edward was only fourteen – still growing so that his pant hems now grazed the top of his lace-up boots. Why had Edward followed Matthew? Why was he there? The question plucked at Matthew’s mind for the one-hundred twenty-third time since they had left home three months earlier.
Thus far, they had encountered brief skirmishes with Yankee soldiers, and both brothers had held their own with rifles wielded from childhood. Of course, shooting a deer and a man had a different feel. But day-to-day concerns of eating, staying well, finding a place to relieve themselves, and more deflected their thoughts from the three adversaries who had died at their hands.
Matthew yelled over the clamor, “Don’t move! The doc will be here soon!”
The handkerchief was scarlet-soaked, and blood oozed through Matthew’s fingers. He pulled the cloth away briefly to see Edward’s shin ripped open like a blossom of flesh with muscle and bone exposed.
The cannon boom echoed to the right, and rifle blasts, battle cries, and wounded screams cut through the smoke-filled air. Just feet away on either side, gray-uniformed soldiers fired at others once deemed fellow countrymen. A navy-clad combatant over the hill had sent the bullet that had blown Edward’s leg apart and had him gushing and mumbling incoherently in the ditch.
He should have never been there in the first place, he thought again. Number one-hundred twenty-four.
Matthew knew that nothing could be done until the fighting ended. He couldn’t carry his brother off the battlefield, and medics wouldn’t arrive until the exchange of gunfire eased. Yet every passing minute meant greater blood loss and the likelihood of losing limb or life.
“C’mon, c’mon,” Matthew muttered through gritted teeth, wringing out the cloth. Then tossing aside his hat, shotgun, ammunition, belt, and jacket, he wriggled out of his shirt and balled it up to the wound. Edward muttered under his breath, reached out, and pulled Matthew close to his face.
“We are foolish, brother,” Edward breathed with a crooked smile on his face.
Matthew crinkled his brow and checked the wound again. It continued to flow.
“Foolish,” Edward whispered. “We don’t even have a slave.”
“What?” Matthew asked.
Edward chuckled. “I just lost my dang leg to keep a slave we don’t own.”
Matthew rocked back on his heels, reapplying pressure to the small bleeding crater.
The sound of gun shots subsided. Was one side winning? Was the fighting nearing an end? Or were soldiers merely reloading?
Matthew considered the words Edward had choked out amidst his pain. He thought once again, He never should have been there in the first place. But then, should either of them have been there?
Round of Words in 80 Days: I haven’t given a decent update in much too long! So a reminder of my goals, along with my progress:
1. 5,000 words per week on middle grade novel. I kept up fairly well with this goal, especially thanks to wordmongering, and completed a first draft.
2. If first draft finished, edit through once. I edited through once and sent my manuscript this week to my wonderful beta reader, Alison. She will read and comment on whether my story is worthy of America’s bookshelves or Gallagher’s Sledge-o-Matic.
3. Three blog entries per week. If you follow me, you can see that I’m doing okay with the deadlines here. Like it or not, you are hearing from me three times a week!
Best wishes to all of the other ROW80 participants!