You Stand Relieved

This flash fiction piece, while not based on any real life event I’ve experienced, is all too real all too often. This is my tribute to our fallen heroes and their sacrifice.

fallen heroAll she’d done since the doorbell rang a week earlier was sob.

As she sat in the cemetery, the tears continued to fall. She didn’t even bother dabbing at them any longer.

The twenty-one-gun salute still echoed through the valley when they folded the flag into a perfect triangle and presented it to her. A lifetime. He’d promised her decades together, but all she would get was this pristine piece of cloth and this final memory. It wasn’t enough.

She didn’t even get to see his face one last time.

The bugle player lowered his instrument after just twenty-four notes—the most difficult twenty-four notes ever played or listened to. The priest offered one last blessing. It was almost over.

It would never be over.

The captain stood at attention, his baritone voice breaking as he made his final salute. “We have assumed the watch. You stand relieved.”

This story inspired by the WordPress daily prompt: Relieved.

19 thoughts on “You Stand Relieved

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  1. OH, wow. I’m in tears now. What a powerful piece. A brief moment of time that will color this woman’s life forever. We owe so much to our fallen heroes, and to their wives and families who carry the burden the rest of their days. Well done, Staci.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Marcia. Your reaction is exactly what I was going for. I cried as I wrote it, and I don’t think I can read it again. I’m sure I didn’t do the situation justice, but I wanted to do my part to shine a light on something I think we tend to try and forget or ignore because it’s just too painful.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It would have made me cry while writing, too. (I’m very familiar with that, thanks to the Painter boys, MacKenzie Cole, and several others.) There’s no way, of course, that mere words can fully portray the emotional impact and damage from an event like this, but I think they can–and yours do–bring home the fact that this is a type of pain that’s nearly unbearable. That’s something we should be reminded of from time to time, lest we forget just what sacrifices have been made for the freedoms we enjoy. You did it excellently, in just those few short sentences. Bless you.

        Liked by 1 person

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