Tag Archives: Soldier

The Hot Summer Flash Blog Hop! #free #stories #flashfiction

Hi, everyone! Today is the House of Manlove Flash Hop! So exciting! A group of authors have each written an original flash piece, 1200 words or less, and are posting them on their individual blogs today. Some may be characters/worlds you are already familiar with from previous works. Some, like mine, may be brand new.

There are two types of stories floating around for this hop: Fourth of July– The Freedom to Marry (established couples) and Midsummer Madness (summer flings). For my 900+ words (I’m tired of recalculating my word count every time I tweak it), I did an established couple, of sorts. Read on to find out what I’m talking about. 🙂

 

Black Granite Wall

By K. Vale

Copyright Kimber Vale

 

Left. Left. Left, right, left. The cadence was stilted and sluggish, a lifetime away from the march of his youth. It was the subdued shuffle of a sixty-three-year-old man, made all the less brisk by the ancient knee wound that hurt worse on rainy days such as this. Still, cane in hand, Gary listened to the drill sergeant in his head, his destination calling forth memories from decades ago. Basic training. Boots and uniforms. Good times, and then guns. Bruce. Bruce. Bruce.

How they’d played at being men, before the war taught them that being men was an ugly job. It showed them that staying young meant you didn’t have to kill or be killed. You didn’t have to wake to the sound of shells and screams, whether real or only—blessedly—in your dreams.

Bruce.

You didn’t have to die in a tomb-dark jungle lit only by the violent back and forth of F1s and M26s. You didn’t have to take your last breath with swarms of mosquitoes angling for a sip before your blood thickened too much for their greedy tastes, and they flew off to the next course in their ample buffet.

The sole good to come of those two boys playing at men was that they had loved like men.

You go, I go. Gary closed his eyes against the steady mist and remembered touching Bruce’s youth-soft face as he made the promise. And then Bruce had gone for good, and Gary had gone home with a shattered knee.

The wall seemed to go on and on before bending at a right angle. As if the world couldn’t hold all those names in a straight shot. The black slab would fall off the ends of the earth before the last martyr was carved into it. Too many. Far too many.

Oh, the stories those voices would tell. All different, but all with the same tragic ending.

He ran his hands over the names, knowing he could search for many with whom he’d shared canned meals, borrowed time, and kid fears. The ones who had come home to their mamas in a zippered pouch instead of a wheelchair, as he had.

Bruce Klein. Tears filled his eyes and spilled down already damp cheeks, mingling with the rain like long-lost lovers. He traced the name with his finger as he’d traced Bruce’s lips so long ago, and then placed his palm flat against the stone.

Wet and smooth, like Bruce’s helmet had been when Gary found him and lifted it off to cradle his head in his lap. Life had already guttered out—no time for goodbyes and deathbed promises. But his skin was still warm. His eyes still vibrant blue as Gary gently lowered his lids and showered him in grief.

Time heals all wounds, or so the saying goes. Maybe that was true, but the scars never disappeared. They’d been etched in his heart as permanently as the fallen had been inscribed on this wall.

He stood for what seemed like years, leaning on black granite instead of his cane, replaying the flash of too-brief time he’d had with his best friend. His first love.  Finally, he felt as if he could speak.

“Bruce.” It was a whisper nearly lost to the patter of rain, but Gary knew the intended ears could hear him. Somewhere. Somehow. “I came to tell you my news. See, we’re here on vacation. Mostly, so I could come here, but D.C. has a lot to do. Got a nice little suite in a bed and breakfast, and we’re just takin’ it easy for a week. It’s our honeymoon, B.” His voice broke and fresh tears burned, flooded, and dropped.

“Who would have guessed, right? Way back when we were sneaking around? Now guys like us are gettin’ married all over the place. It’s a new world. You would have loved it. You would have loved him.”

Gary tipped his head up and stared into vast gray clouds, letting the heavens cry down on him, feeling washed clean by it all.

“That’s really all I came to say, B. That, and I miss you. I love you. I always will. And Glenn? He’s good with that. I think he loves you in his own way, too. Loves you for the stories I’ve told him.” He patted the stone with a wet slap. “Loves you for making me the man I am.” He swallowed over the lump in his throat. “Loves you just because I do.”

He stepped back and kissed his palm, placed it over Bruce Klein with a sniff and a soggy smile.

“Wherever you are now, buddy, they’re lucky to have you. I was so lucky to have you.”

Gary raised his right hand sharply, index finger barely touching his temple, and elbow at a 45-degree angle. He stood there, back straight and chest puffed out for only a moment before he dropped the salute.

“AMF.” Gary smiled with the derogatory goodbye. Adios, motherfucker. It was slang their unit had used heavily, as normal as a pat on the back and a see ya. Bruce knew. Somewhere, he was nodding, that old childhood scar on his cheek creasing as he grinned down on Gary and then pulled a Lucky Strike from behind his ear and lit it up, squinting as smoke curled toward his eyes.

Gary turned and picked his way back through the rain, gauging each step on the wet stone. The slick grass. Slow and steady as the hands of a clock.

Left. Left. Left, right, left.

——————–

 

Don’t forget to check out the other flashers! 🙂

 


Release Day! Coming Together: In the Trenches

Happy Veterans Day, everyone! I’m so pleased to announce the release of Coming Together: In the Trenches today. This story collection is chock full of delicious tales involving military men and women.

From sweet homecomings, to high-octane battlefronts, and everything in between, In the Trenches is sure to be a thrill ride you won’t soon forget.

All proceeds from this spicy anthology go to Protect Our Defenders, so what do you say? Buy a hot read for less than the price of a hot coffee, and help raise funds for a worthy cause. 🙂

In the Trenches

CONTENTS: Once upon a Thursday (Robert Buckley); Half a Day from the Front (Skilja Peregrinarius); This is Me Holding You (Annabeth Leong); When He Comes Home (Di Topaz); Report on the Heart (Yvette Hines); A Problem with Authority (Lucy Felthouse); Comando Especial (Kimber Vale); Dutch & Lobo (Aliyah Burke)

An excerpt from the book:

Introduction

When people imagine what it might be like to be a soldier—or a sailor or an airman or a Marine—what often comes to mind is the picture of a highly-trained, self-sufficient, aggressive Type-A personality machine. This image, fed by Hollywood and shaped by years of headlines with foreign datelines, is only half the picture.

There is another side to the military man or woman. That is the side that wakes up in the morning missing someone. That is the side that pauses in the moment you put on your helmet, to let your gaze linger on the picture stashed within. That is the side that waits days, months, years to be with someone. That is the side that makes the soldier whole.

The stories in this anthology show that side of the soldier. First, we take a trip back in time to an ill-lit path in the woods, wherein lies a secret respite from the world, in Robert Buckley’s “Once Upon a Thursday.” Skilja Peregrinarius continues this theme with his “Half a Day From the Front,” in which a young woman gives comfort to those she can, and is in return comforted and protected.

Romance—bittersweet, hot romance—comes to the fore in Annabeth Leong’s story of a soldier leaving her husband and daughter behind as she returns to the combat zone in “This is Me Holding You.” Themes of love and reconnection, and the special challenges military relationships entail, are highlighted in Di Topaz’ “When He Comes Home,” and Yvette Hines’ “Report on the Heart.”

And yet, we shouldn’t forget that there is something about the warrior’s heart that places him or her outside the everyday. In Lucy Felthouse’s “A Problem With Authority,” two soldiers cross a few lines of military discipline to be with each other. Kimber Vale takes us deep into the South American jungle in “Comando Especial,” in which a dangerous mission becomes deadly personal. And in our final offering, “Dutch & Lobo” by Aliyah Burke, two warriors take on all comers—and each other—to save the life of Dutch’s fellow Marine.

Each of these stories presents a different facet of the military; each presents a different interpretation of the theme. These authors have come together to donate their stories to a cause that benefits yet another, often hidden, side of the military. A salute to them in thanks for their time and effort.

And last but not least, I want to raise a glass to our veterans, past, present, and future. Wherever you are serving tonight, I hope you wake up soon with the people who complete your picture.

~ Lady Grey

Find Coming Together: In the Trenches at All Romance and Amazon, and probably some more places if you look. 🙂

-Kimber

 


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