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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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Iraq

New Life – flash fiction

Trying to focus on paperwork in the Iraqi heat had Michael agitated. The only positive, he was inside. Then he heard the words, “The babies are out.” He grabbed his binoculars and joined the parade leaving the building. They raced passed a lone guy loading a truck, went to the far fence and raised their glasses. Michael enjoyed the moment then returned to the loader. “I’ll do this, you go have a look.”

“Thanks, Sarge.”

The newbie joined the group and after guidance, saw the hares playing on the burned remains of a jeep roof half-buried in the sand.

 

Written in response to  Charli Mills March 19, 2020, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a rabbit on the roof. Or many rabbits. Why are they there? Explain the unexpected, go into any genre. Go where the prompt leads!

The Yellow Flower – Flash Fiction

I was a reservist in Iraq, where everything inside and out of our barbed wire compound was sand colored, including the hazy air. One morning there was an unfamiliar excited buzz in the conversations. The words flower and yellow were prevalent. I listened for details. During the day I made it to the south side of the compound, where outside the fence, sprouting out of a pile of leftover razor sharp wire was a sorry excuse for vegetation. The weed wasn’t even green, but it had the most beautiful yellow flower on top. Hope growing out of the dust.

(Based on a memoir written by Army Sgt. John Steele, a member of the Rochester, NY,  Veteran’s Writing Group.)

In response to Charli Mills July 12, 2018, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a broken fence. You can mend it, leave it, or explain its place in a story. Go where the prompt leads.

July 12: Flash Fiction Challenge

Day of the Deployed and the Family too

National Day of the Deployed honors all of the brave men and woman who have been deployed, are sacrificing, or have sacrificed their lives to defend our country. The day also acknowledges their families who are separated from them during deployment and the sacrifices they make in order for their family members to serve our country.

WOW! A military recognition day that also honors the family left at home.  I’ve been in that position and it isn’t easy!  You function as a single parent the best you can (and get used to being in charge) then your spouse returns home, and thinks he is in charge.  It’s always an adjustment to relearn how to share the responsibilities of the family and household.  Today, it’s almost as common to have the Mom gone instead of the Dad.  I would guess that’s even more difficult if the separation is for a long time.

When my nephew was deployed during Dessert Storm, I sent him the Sunday comics each week.  I got more than one letter of thanks, and it is still mentioned at the holiday dinner table.  He laughs, “If I had been a drinking man, I would have charged rent on them.  As it was, there became a pecking order of who got to read them when I was finished.  They got passed along until they were tattered.”  Those funny papers were a touch of American life and home for the guys deployed.

I recently attended a church service where a young man was recognized before being deployed to Iraq the following week.  He told us he would be back in a year, if all went well.  I hate to admit, when we said good-bye to Dillon, we were all thinking, I hope you do come back.  It made sending him off a little harder to do.

These days the deployed can communicate much easier with home via cell phones and Skype.  I thought it would make deployment easier on both sides, but a good friend, a Captain in the Army, told me it makes it more difficult for some, because the parent at home shares all the troubles (car won’t start, mother-in-law didn’t send a birthday card, child is acting out because they don’t understand where Dad/Mom is) and the person deployed can’t do anything from so far away except feel guilty for not being there. As I said, it isn’t easy.

If you know someone who is deployed, may I suggest you take the time to send them a card or stop by their house and ask the family if they need something done.  I promise, they will appreciate knowing someone recognizes the sacrifice they are making for the U.S.A.

National Purple Heart Day

The first Purple Heart was created by General George Washington in 1782 to be presented to soldiers for “any singularly meritorious action”.  Since 1917 it has been awarded to any soldier, in any branch of U.S. service, when they are wounded or killed in action.  I happen to believe it should be awarded to every service member because of the wounds they receive to their psyche; the ones that another person can’t see.

I attend the local Veteran’s Writing group in the city where I live.  We met yesterday morning and I asked who had a purple heart.  Out of the three Viet Nam Vets, One WWII Vet, and three Iraq/Afghanistan Vets, no one had been awarded a Purple Heart for a visible wound to their body.  But, I know they all carry the wounds of being deployed.  Each one of them has lost a close friend, or wartime “brother” or “sister” during a combat related experience.  Each one of them admits to nightmares about something they were ordered to do, something they saw happen, or sometimes about the fact they couldn’t make a difference when they thought it was their duty to do so, or the fact they came home alive when their buddy didn’t.

I made the comment, “I was just a dependent wife,” because in my mind, that’s all I was.  I never had to face being shot at in a war zone, or hold my friend’s mortally wounded body while he took his last breath.  One of the Vets, Steve, told me after our writing session that if I left my childhood home to be the wife of a military service member, I too was a veteran.  If only for the fact I understand what sacrifices they make so the citizens of the United States can enjoy the freedoms they do.  I wish I had the capability to make eveyone understand what it does to any past or present military service member when they see someone disrespect the flag of this country.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am all for free speech and freedom of expression.  I just wish everyone could understand those freedom’s come with a heavy price for our service members.  Another point Steve made today is that military personnel are expected to be tough.  They go through a rigorous training to make them that way.  So when they realize they need help with some of their unseen wounds it is hard for them to admit it and seek help.

I have come to respect every person I’ve met in the Veteran’s Writing group, if not love them.  If it were up to me, they would all have a Purple Heart.

 

 

 

 

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