Innocents – A short story from the Rhodesian Bush War

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Innocents – A short story from the Rhodesian Bush War

The child lay in her habitual position under a slab of concrete, the remains of a tiny dam wall, blasted to smithereens in a long ago argument between neighbours.
Sheltered from the mid afternoon sun, her cheek against the cool, damp sand, she heard the man long before she saw him.
Tired beyond caring, lame and injured; desperate.
She heard his leg drag along the ground with every step; his laboured breathing.
The bank leading to the stream was fairly steep, the path cutting deep ruts, boulders holding the red soil alongside.
Watching him stagger into view she propped her chin under the palm of one hand.

Sitting on the soft bank, his bleeding feet trailing in the current, Julius drank with huge slurping gulps. The water, gushing down his throat, soothed him, filling his empty stomach.
He had to push on, his tired mind screamed, although he wanted to curl up and sleep for eternity.
Splashing the cold water on his face, he breathed deep, striving for energy and when he finally forced his eyes open, found the wide, dark gaze of the girl on him, less than two metres way.
She was a white child, he could see that much in the shade of the overhanging concrete. Eight, maybe ten years of age. Thick, straight hair, dark in the shade of the overhang, framed a pointy, pixie face.
Dread hit him square in his core; his immediate thought, “Oh no, not another one. Not another child…”

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10 responses »

    • Yes, it does bring back memories and I suppose they do depend on your age! Ive always been fascinated by the choices one makes. Sometimes, once a choice has been made, its almost impossible to change direction! And yet, in retrospect you can say to yourself…”I could have stopped here, or there…” Its like right and wrong.

  1. A fascinating story, Frankie, so well drawn. I really enjoyed it. Thank you. I hope to read more of your work. Stay well. Hilda.

  2. Hi Frankie

    this is lovely I love reading stories about Zimbabwe, I do miss Zimbabwe so much and I love Bulawayo where I grew up.

    take care and well done on the short story

    • Thank you! I still live here and I mostly want to write about Bulawayo. The book Im writing at the moment is set mostly in Bulawayo and seen through the eyes of a teenager who arrived here at fourteen years of age. So Im much more able to get all the little bits in that I didnt manage when I wrote Silk Threads

    • Thank you for that. Strangely, no one wants to engage me in discussion about this short story. Ive had long conversations about the others (which I love) and yet this one, for some reason, isnt the same. I wondered if perhaps, the subject matter is too over-riding and the underlying themes are missed. Or of course, it could be too obscure!

  3. I enjoy reading your work, especially given that stories of that time have not really being recorded they remain footnotes in the oral tradition of our past. Waiters wait, writers write. Keep writing!

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