Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Longest Day

This week at our Friday FreeFall the prompt was "The Longest Day," since Friday was on D-Day. Someone wrote about Dieppe, since it too happened, by military reckoning, on D-day at H-hour. It was a sad morning as many of us remembered our relatives... literally gone, or here in body but gone in mind... Freefall writing, as the name implies, is where you just write like mad after hearing a surprise prompt. It can be powerful because it is so messy; you just write your way into it, without any editing or inner censor.   

Prompt-The Longest Day
It’s a long day. The trick is to attack at high tide—for the brass, that means more clearance between the hulls and the obstacles. For us it means more chance to survive because if we can keep our heads above water there is less chance of drowning—not in water, anyway, maybe in the hot coppery stuff.

It was a long day because I was skipping out. I was miserable and depressed and I had no telephone so no one could phone me and they would have thought I was in school anyways. Like every teen I had a transistor radio and every hour I would hear the news of three guards held captive—or did we say “hostage” in those days? I later heard that my dad had to hold on with all his might to keep a knife from his throat. Luckily another con came and held the con’s arm away.

I don’t even know if I benefited, really, by staying away from school. I don’t suppose I got caught up on trying to understand algebra or cleaning up my place. Once I hallucinated that I heard my dad’s voice. But he wasn’t around, he was at work, at the penn, what we kids called the joint.
He didn’t get any extra money for being held hostage, but he did get an early retirement out of the deal—just try getting any favours from the department of soliciter general.

The hours trickled by, oozed by, stealed by like some digital clock that didn’t register seconds or minutes, only ticked over for hours.
I suppose I read. And at last I was at the armoury where everybody is devoted to excellence and luckily we didn’t have any drill training because my mind would have been too distracted. Or no, in those years I would have thrown myself into things. Today it is so easy to memorise a serial number, in those years we all thought our middle aged NCO’s were crazy to expect us to remember the number of a rifle we were issued for just one night.
The battalion orderly room had a telephone to the outside world, the phone was in the phone book, and the whole battalion learned that my father had been freed. Not like Mary Steinhauser. And we all climbed the long stairs to the mess and drank our manly beer and forgot about it. For we were strong and young and immortal.

My father landed ten days after D-Day, went to Bremmen, the furthest reach of the Canadian Forces, and got to come home soonest as he had been so long in the war. Now he’s in a wheelchair in Bamfield pavilion.

Sean Crawford

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