A NOS MORTS

The bugle sounded, the flag was lowered. Feet shuffled on gravel.

The silence was broken by the diesel engine of a barge. They didn’t close the canal anymore.

Some her mother had nursed back to full health, some never recovered. One her mother married.

Twenty years later she was alongside her mother as men repeated the same mistakes. She remembered the faces, the blood, the screams. The cost of war.

She was the last of them, the nurses of the Hôpital Temporaire d’Arc-en-Barrois.

Would anyone remember those men once she was gone?

The barge carried on along the canal.


crook-building
Copyright Sandra Crook

Written as part of the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (more details HERE). The idea is to write a short story of 100 words based on the photo prompt (above).

To read stories of 100 words based on this week’s prompt, visit HERE.

104 responses to “A NOS MORTS”

  1. Beautiful and haunting, Iain

    Liked by 2 people

      1. neil had the two words I was feeling – beauitful and haunting…
        I also loved the bit of meter in the flow here –
        would make a great read aloud…
        slowing down with
        ” She remembered the faces

        the blood
        the screams.”

        long pause – and look around
        and quietly saying:

        “The cost of war.”

        so good!!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you so much, appreciate the detailed comment 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Lest we forget. Hopefully, they will be remembered as will she. Excellent Iain.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Intriguing piece. I like the language.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Dear Iain,

    Tragically well written.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rochelle.

      Like

  5. Lovely story Iain. Yours is a historical fiction too. I think you should add this link to the hospital’s name https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%B4pital_Temporaire_d%27Arc-en-Barrois

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you – I did read the same link, but didn’t want to link to it as I’m not sure it is the exact same place, but now you have provided the information 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Superb piece of writing, Iain.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. So it really was a hospital? Good story, Iain. The true tragedy of war is that it is forgotten, or glamorised and sugar-coated.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It had that look to me so I went with it. I agree, feels like we have completely forgotten the tragedy of it at the moment.

      Like

      1. The commemoration industry has taken over, seems to me.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Gripping and tragic, well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. We run in circles and repeat our mistakes. Well written.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Very well written and thought out. I really loved it and found it very touching.
    xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rowena, very kind, glad you liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Very nicely done. I could almost hear that barge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I imagine you were steering it down the canal Sandra 🙂

      Like

  12. There’s great ambience feeling to this. You express such sorrow well, along with this hopeless dream that no one will forget those sacrifice in war; we always do at some time. Great piece!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, it feels like we have forgotten it at the moment for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow. The same mistakes repeated again and again. What sorrow. Great writing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I love the writing in your story. It’s simple, clean, elegant. Absolutely direct and to the point, choosing such good little incidents to convey the atmosphere. The barge was a particularly good touch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Penny, so pleased you appreciated it.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Beautiful tone in this tale, Iain. Nice piece of historical fiction.

    Like

  16. lain, I think this is now my favorite of your stories. Such a haunting sense of sadness, at the same time shwoing compassion. Really well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, a very kind comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. So well written, Iain. Such a tragedy, beautifully told.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Dale 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Iain, you have conveyed so much with just a few words. Very moving.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Oh, Iain. I love where you took this! I do believe it’s one of your best. My heart is breaking ~ just a little.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Alicia, such a nice compliment.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Love it—who will remember? it’s like those barges passing….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Bjorn, that was the little connection I was trying to weave into the story, so glad you saw it.

      Like

      1. Ha.. being a poet I always spot the metaphor.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. A beautiful memorial.. who will remember, indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. A moving story, Iain. So very well written. I love the powerful imagery of people passing by regardless, so cleverly personified in the indifferent movement of the barge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Edith, I’m glad you appreciated that image.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. In the long span of history, how many such barges have passed?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An interesting thought, thank you ALice

      Like

  24. A beautiful story Iain. The cairns might make some wonder and find out but over time so much is forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Brilliant, Iain. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Such a powerful piece of historical fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much.

      Like

  27. I liked how you made the connection to the wars. There was also a reminder of the futile idea that WW! was the war to end all wars.
    I enjoyed reading this.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. A very grim tale, very nicely written.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. A good tale you spun here. War generates so many memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. For a few years I worked in a ‘former’ WWI hospital, built using wooden huts. Now that hospital and its memory are long gone. In years to come it may be completely forgotten. Your interesting story delivered memories. Thank you

    Like

    1. Thank you Michael, it’s important we don’t completely forget the places and the people from the past.

      Like

  31. A beautifully written story, written with a delicate and elegiac touch, so expressive. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, a lovely comment.

      Like

  32. Ghosts of the past and the circle repeats. Great themes in this one Iain

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Laurie 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  33. war does represent the best and the worst in mankind.

    Like

  34. Great the way you pack so much in. This has an overwhelming weight about it – the barge representing life going on, almost as a disrespect to those who have died. Definitely a story that lingers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, very kind.

      Like

  35. A moving take on the prompt. Traffic doesn’t stop on Armistice Day in London either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve noticed over the years that less and less people stop what they are doing to observe the minutes silence.

      Like

  36. How very sad and how very sad that this is very true – a lot of people tend to forget about what they don’t experience first hand or learn through family members. Very nicely written 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Lest we forget. I once observed a service at one of the WW2 cemeteries in France. A moving experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure it would be. Thank you Patrick.

      Like

  38. Lain, wow! An excellent gripping story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Dan, much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  39. Beautiful tale of the cost of war, the love and respect of a woman for her mother and the passage of time. All in 100 words. Marvelous!

    Liked by 1 person

  40. History repeats itself as men never learn from their or other’s mistakes. very subtle language.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, glad you appreciated it.

      Like

  41. I must agree with all who have left comments before me, Iian.
    The build-up to the ending is superb. I enjoyed reading very much.
    Isadora 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Isadora, much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  42. While most of us were writing about castles and princesses, here you come with another unexpected twist. Superb story telling as usual!

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Beautifully done, Iain. This feels like one of your more thoughtful pieces.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Nicely crafted, Iain. A point of view we don’t often think about–or perhaps choose not to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you – I think we choose not to imagine what a lot of people went through in those times. and still currently are around the world.

      Like

  45. Well written story Iain. I love that image of the canal barge, life plodding on regardless as men die in their millions. Wonderfully done

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Beautiful piece of writing and a deep question which we may never be able to answer. I hope we never forget.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. A very beautiful story.

    Liked by 1 person

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