Going Home – Submit Your Fifth Short Story Today

It is June and we are freezing in the Southern Hemisphere, but while we are freezing we are also submitting our fifth short stories for the 12 Short Story Challenge. Congratulations to everyone who made it.

Please remember that I will not be accepting any stories on Facebook. All stories must be submitted on the new site:  12 Short Stories

Please read last week’s post if you haven’t created a profile yet.

Submission process: 

I will accept and approve posts for Going Home (Word count: 500 words) from 14 June 2017, 8:00 (Johannesburg time), until 15 June, 8:00 (Johannesburg time) on 12 Short Stories.  Please ask Google to figure out what time that will be in your part of the world.

Please use the correct format:

In the post title bar:              Story Title by Author Name.

Just above the story:             Prompt: XXXXXX | Word count: XXXXXX | Genre: XXXXXX

Warnings to sensitive readers can go after that.

Catch up: 

If you missed the previous deadlines you have until 30 June 2017 to catch up. This will be your only chance. Please make sure all your stories have been uploaded before then.

Here is the procedure:

  1. Read today’s post.
  2. Post your story on https://12shortstories.com.
  3. Read and comment on at least four other stories. Please spread the love. Look for stories that haven’t been read, instead of everyone reading and commenting on the same stories. If you want tips on how to comment, read this post: The Complete Guide To Evaluating Your Short Story.
  4. This is an exercise in discipline. The comments are a bonus. There is no prize because I want you to focus on writing for yourself and to try and take more risks.
  5. Be kind when you comment. Start with a positive comment, suggest an improvement, and end with something positive. We are here to learn.
  6. Our next prompt is at the end of this post.

A few more points:

  1. I will try to read as many posts as possible, but I do have a day job that I would like to keep.
  2. NO hate speak. None. If you see something nasty that I should be made aware of, please send me a message.
  3. Be careful of profanity.
  4. I need to approve every post. Please be patient with me. I am teaching during the day and I will approve them as quickly as I can. They will all go up.

You guys rock!

Here is my story:

Coming Home by Mia Botha

Prompt: Going Home | Word Count: 500 | Genre: Drama | Warning: Violence

You kick him off as you come up, sucking in big gulps of air, you cough and cough again, fighting with the covers on the floor and stumble after him into the bathroom, pulling at the shower curtain to regain your balance, but you slide down, gasping as your lungs beg for air with tears running unchecked down your cheeks. A merry string of red beads ring your neck, each embedded with his fingerprint. This wasn’t supposed to happen. 

O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming, 

He is on the floor dwarfing the pink, bobbly bathmat. You watch him curl into a ball, his head squeezed into the space between the toilet and the bath. His white vest soaked with sweat. He is clawing at the shallow grout between the stupid army-issue, green tiles. His shoulders shake with each heaving sob. Pity. Shame. Anger. Loathing. Terror. This morning’s joy, long gone.

Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?

You crawl to his side and he rests his head in your lap. His dog tags fall to the floor with a clink. He flinches.

“Shhhh.” You kiss his cheek. Smooth, cold and damp.

You fold yourself over, putting your head on his chest. You try to move. You need to face him, but your foot catches on the laundry basket, overflowing with uniforms and Afghani dust. You shove at it and it spills.

“I’m sorry.” He whispers and wraps his hand around yours, pulling it to his chest.

“We need help.” You say. “There are doctors, therapists…”

“I’ll lose my clearance.” He says.

You are going to lose so much more.

“Can we talk about it? Maybe if you tell me what happened?”

“It’s classified.” All gone. The tears. The terror. The soldier standing his ground.

And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thru the night that our flag was still there.

 “Mommy?” Jenny asks from the door, tugging at the bow of her nightgown. She looks at the two of you, next to a heap of dirty laundry on the floor, and you wonder what she makes of it. She’s not a baby anymore.

“We had an accident, sweetie. Don’t worry about it.” You run your hand over the short stubble on his head. He doesn’t even try to sit up.

You raise your voice. You know she is there, just outside the door. “Sally, please take Jenny back to bed. Mommy will be there in a minute.”

Sally doesn’t look, she just takes her sister’s hand. She has seen it too many times already. A veteran of this war.

Jenny’s voice finds you again as they walk down the passage, “What happened?” She asks her big sister.

“Daddy’s home.”

Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

And here is the sixth prompt:

If you want to learn how to write a short story, join us for Short Cuts. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.