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DESERTER

Finalist at the Wandsworth Arts Festival, 2015

400-word short story with the theme "Pied Piper"

 

 

“It’s nearly dawn”, said the priest when Lennox was full of brandy.

 

They walked single file into the woods. The twelve with rifles, steady on their feet; Lennox stumbling; the priest a little behind, with a blindfold heavy in his pocket.

 

The brandy made Lennox think of home; the day he’d enlisted. He’d searched the crowd for Crawford’s face and seen posters of Kitchener instead. When Crawford had placed a hand on his shoulder it was as though the sun had come out.

 

“I want to see every man from this village in France by September.  We’ll all be there together and I’ll see you’re looked after. What do you say Lennox?” Crawford had smiled and Lennox had nodded and thought only of Crawford’s warm arm around him.

 

But it hadn’t been like that. Crawford, who owned half the village, was made a Captain. He’d not seen him since training. Lennox only knew he was in Belgium somewhere.

 

It was weeks before Crawford heard the news. He sat in a rain-soaked tent and read Lennox’s last letter, understanding more than was written there. Then, after tucking the letter deep inside his jacket, he led his men over the top.