The Bicycle

Photo Credit:  Keith Channing

Photo Credit: Keith Channing

The bicycle rests against the wall, a mute witness to the heartache inside the house of another English family.

The rider, just a boy, has once more delivered a telegram that will change a family’s life. Someone’s son, someone’s darling, has died today, this time in a town in North Africa, thousands of miles from English soil.

It’s a job the boy has performed with increasing frequency as the war continues to grind on. His hard news is always dispatched with grim respect and quiet sympathy. Once delivered, the boy thanks the family for its sacrifice. Another hero for England, another strike against the Nazis. With solemnity, he then mounts his bike, a young grim reaper cycling on to the next house.

But not today.

Today the bicycle continues to rest against the wall.

Today the boy becomes a man. The words he speaks are more than earnest platitudes.

The telegram, that constant harbinger of bad news, mocks him as he brokenly shares with yet another family notice of a son’s heroism.

He breaks down, looking into the mother’s eyes.

My brother…

In the stillness of a moment, one bicycle, resting against a wall, bears testimony to the cost of war.

Word Count: 211
Author’s Note: This flash fiction was written in response to Keith Channing’s photo challenge, found at Keith Kreates (here). I don’t think this photo was taken in England, but as soon as I saw it, it made me think of WWII and youths who may have delivered telegrams announcing the deaths of soldiers to soon-to-be grieving parents.

About Kate Loveton

Aspiring novelist. Avid reader of fiction. Reviewer of books. By day, my undercover identity is that of meek, mild-mannered legal assistant, Kate Loveton, working in the confines of a stuffy corporate law office; by night, however, I'm a super hero: Kate Loveton, Aspiring Novelist and Spinner of Tales. My favorite words are 'Once upon a time... ' Won't you join me on my journey as I attempt to turn a hobby into something more?
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33 Responses to The Bicycle

  1. Pingback: Kreative Kue – 2 | Keith Kreates

  2. Lucy says:

    Okay. You are over the top. Lucy

  3. Pingback: A week in the study | Our parking space on the Information Super-highway

  4. willow1945 says:

    Beautifully done, very touching, Kate.

  5. I think I’d rather you were scaring me, Kate. This is so well done, sad, but perfect. xx

  6. stacilys says:

    Wow Kate. You have seriously outdone yourself with this one. Bravo. Standing ovation on my part. I literally felt goosebumps down my legs. What aren’t you publishing something woman?

  7. Lovingly written, Kate. As a mother who has always worried about an unknown car pulling into a driveway and two uniformed men getting out, this hit home.

  8. Stunning work Kate. I welled up reading this; my heart aches for that young boy ❀

  9. How tenderly you’ve painted this picture, Kate, in delivering the worst news of all.
    Heartbreaking and haunting story. πŸ˜‰

  10. sknicholls says:

    Tough thing to be faced with, but his strength shines through.

    • Kate Loveton says:

      He did need to be strong. I see that young man as eventually getting back onto his bike and going to the next house – but perhaps with a better understanding now of the feelings his news will create in his listeners. Thanks, Susan. πŸ™‚

  11. Lovely words. I like that it’s emotional without being sappy. Keep writing!

    • Kate Loveton says:

      I very much appreciate your mentioning that while the story was emotional, it didn’t veer into sappiness. With each story, I increasingly try to modulate the ‘tone’ – it seems to me that understated emotion often delivers more of a wallop than something that is excessively overstated. Thanks, Nicholas – that was the best compliment you could have paid me!

  12. What an emotional and brilliant piece! Really tugged at my heart strings on this one.

  13. gpeynon says:

    Superb! But not what I needed to read first thing in the morning. You kind of tricked me with that ‘becomes a man’ part and I thought we were destined for a happy ending. I should have known better, eh? πŸ™‚

    • Kate Loveton says:

      I admit, I don’t write too many happening endings, do I? I’ve a few on my blog, but not many. πŸ™‚ While not the best story to start one’s day with, I’m glad you enjoyed it nevertheless. Thanks for letting me know! Your ‘tricky’ friend, Kate. πŸ˜€

  14. Very moving, Kate, and a splendid response to the prompt. Thank you.

  15. Kate,

    this is exquisite and i more than welled up, i cried..
    for loss, at the madness of war, the pain of grief..
    and the poignancy of your expression.

    Bless you, Kate, for this.


  16. Bruce Goodman says:

    That’s wonderful and sad.

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