Mid Somerset Festival 2013 - Creative Writing Short Story winner
Remember the future, by Eleanor Walker
“I think poppies are too red,” Isabella reflected.
Her brother, Thomas, sighed. “Do you know a war is raging?” he asked, sarcastically.
Isabella ignored him. “They remind me of blood.”
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“Do you remember John Smith?” Thomas inquired.
Isabella settled down into an armchair. She nodded.
“Well, he’s dead.” Thomas stood abruptly, folding his newspaper as he did so. “And he is not alone.”
“I am aware of that,” Isabella said, indifferent.
Thomas snorted. “You don’t act like it.”
Isabella knew what happened –how boys left home, how mothers wept and widows dressed in black. She felt the nation’s sadness as her own. It burned her. For that reason, she tried to not feel any anguish apart from hers.
“I act as I do, and I do as I act,” Isabella muttered.
Thomas continued on his tirade, complaining about his asthma and being the ‘only’ man not in France, fighting. Isabella focused on the street outside. Houses lined the pavement. The lights from the windows broke the evening’s darkness. Streetlamps radiated a faint yellow glow.
Everything was disjointed. No breeze touched her face from the open window. Thomas’ lips moved without sound. The colours mixed with each other, distorting what Isabella could see, turning it into different hues of scarlet. The visions were happening again.
Sometimes, Isabella saw things; incidents that were yet to happen, places that had not been built. Her parents dismissed it, but Isabella knew what she saw–no, for what she felt. Premonition: intuition or warning about future events.
Isabella blinked, but the picture did not fade. Or was it a picture? She sensed everything; Isabella smelt the neither sweet nor sour scent of the meadow, she felt the slight roughness of the petals with her fingertips, she heard the soft, constant hum of bees. Perhaps she really was in a completely different place. Gently, the presence of the meadow pressed down on her, making itself known. Like a fly caught in a spider’s web, Isabella sat, bewildered.
Thousands of identical flowers, their large crimson petals fanning open, faces turned to the sun, rose around her. After the longest, most prolonged breath, Isabella realised they were poppies. They spread out so far into the distance; they reached the horizon and continued beyond where the eye could see. Isabella froze. They remind me of blood.
Another breath -the scenery changed. The disturbing flowers vanished. A tall monument was formed. Words were embellished in gold on the coarse granite. Glowering down from the top was a cross.
Isabella moved forward. She realised the words were names. Her heart ceased to beat. Right in front of her was the name Thomas Kent. Her brother. She ran her fingers over the letters, disbelieving. The air caught in her throat.
“Isabella?” The voice breeched the solemn silence from miles away. “Isabella, what are you doing?”
She turned her head towards the sound. Thomas, alive and well, observed her with the most perplexed expression. He stood with his arms crossed, exasperated by her lack of attention. He was had finished his rant about how unfair it was he couldn’t join the army –he felt so ‘left out’. Anger boiled inside her.
Isabella rose to her feet so quickly the room spun unsettlingly, and jabbed a finger at Thomas. The menacing stance took him by surprise.
“You should be grateful you have a chance at a proper life here, rather than an awful death far form home!” she screeched. “Someone needs to carry on after this mess, this war to end all wars.” Isabella scoffed. “As if.”