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.
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.