WWII Veteran

You’re walking through a cemetery and you pass the grave of a World War II veteran. Write a scene from his life story.

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  1. kathleenmagner

    Charlie woke with a pounding headache. The squawk of sea gulls and the ocean’s surge thumped in time with each throb against his skull. Dragging his bared arm from across his face, he squinted at the brightening predawn and silhouette of palm tree fronds. A breeze coursed off the water, weighty with plumerias and the expectations of another Monday.

    “Not yet,” he whispered.

    Sitting up, Charlie draped his arms over his bent knees and hung his head while his stomach lurched. After warding off a nausea, he dusted bleached grains from his calloused hands. His elbow knocked over the empty bottle of rum, the clear sides crushing the single red rose at its side.

    Petals fell away, dotting the sand like drops of blood before dancing in another onshore breeze. They swept past the adjoining dent in the sand, the one Liza had made.

    A sea gull’s call seemed to mock him with a rendition of her laughter. Raking a hand through his sandy hair, however, couldn’t quash the memory.

    “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

    The bird squawked in agreement and Charlie cast it a sullen glare while his hangover jackhammered his temples. With a tilt of its head and final call, the gull took to the air, soaring up and over the water. He watched it glide effortlessly toward the horizon until it became a speck among the expanse.

    “Good riddance.”

    Tearing his gaze from the envious flight, Charlie heaved to his feet. He dug his toes into the cool sands and caught his balance before shambling toward his bike lying in the sun-crisped grass. Uprighting the ten speed, he straddled the leather seat and stared down the single dirt lane leading south.

    Beneath his pulse, horns and shouts seemed to wail. With a scrub at his ears, Charlie resigned himself to his hangover’s din, leaned into the handles, and shoved the bike into motion. The pedals’ metal grates pressed into his soles and with each push the wind fluttered his hibiscus print shirt, drying the sweat earned from his ride along the coast, up though the cane fields, and along the roadways leading home. When he crested the last ridge, however, he pulled to a stop, the brakes screeching their protest.

    “What in the world….”

    Blackened plumes of smoke drifted from the harbor while oily smears coated the pristine water. The horns and shouts he’d mislabeled as his brains’ wail, bombarded him from the armada, and additional sirens punctured the early morning.

    Charlie cringed when an airplane swooped overhead, rotators rattling as the pilot angled into the devastation. The plane met up with a swarm of its brethren and in formation they soared through the explosions and out of sight.

    Secondary bombs boomed in their wake and Charlie’s gaze locked onto the base.


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