For June I’m continuing to pull from my short story collection, The Futility of Loving a Soldier.
It’s eleven stories about veterans and their relationships with family and friends.
Today’s excerpt comes from the second of five related stories, “A Family Tradition.” This one is about Maarten, a man who served during WWII and has spent his life battling his father Joos’s legacy, as conveyed by his single mother, Ophélie.
In this excerpt, continuing from last week’s, he’s just arrived home from a Scouting trip with his sons, to find a strange car in the driveway. Once inside, he comes face-to-face with his father, whom he hasn’t had any contact with in over thirty years – although his father claims to have written to him on a regular basis.
* * * * * * *
Was Joos really as bad as his mother had led Maarten to believe? He knew all about his temper and his cowardice in the First World War.
“He had the chance to save his family and he didn’t,” Ophélie had told her son. “And then he lied about it. He claimed he and his brother were war heroes, but they weren’t, they were nothing but cowards. Don’t you be a coward like him.”
Maarten hadn’t been a coward. He’d enlisted right after Pearl Harbor had been hit and had tried his best to serve, but he’d been sent to Algeria, not France or Italy, to work on trucks instead of shooting Krauts. He’d tried a second time, but Catherine’s cajoling had kept him out of Korea.
Now he was raising his own sons to be soldiers, to be tough, to be heroes—the opposite of that man in the living room.
* * * * * * *
Read more about Maarten’s and Joos’s struggles by picking up a copy of The Futility of Loving a Soldier, then post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.
And if you’re a writer, sign up to be a Friday Five author, which gets you and your latest work featured on my blog.
I still wonder if his mother was telling him the truth, or her own version of how she saw things.
I like how you describe Maarten’s military history in so few sentences. The last line is perfect! Makes me believe Joos is what Maarten’s mother says about him. Good snippet!
A lot of sadness behind this family history, I’m suspecting. Very engrossing excerpt and makes me want to learn more about all of them!
It’s tragic when people feel they’ve somehow fallen short in life, and expect their kids to compensate. Compelling snippet and story!
I still think there’s more to his father’s story than his mother is telling him, and I hope he gives the man a chance to tell it. You paint a good picture of his frustration, however, being unable to serve his country as he thinks he should. Eager for more snippets!
This sounds like the same dynamic as in Teddy Roosevelt’s life (I read about him recently) — determined not to a coward.
There is much more backstory here… Good snippet. Tweeted.
Not that people don’t lie about being war heroes… But what if he didn’t?
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