Concert by D.I. Jolly

The war started at 2:34 pm while George was at work. He wasn’t a simple man, but he enjoyed the simple life. He took pleasure in the small things, sunsets, hot coffee on a cold day, the high notes his wife Susanna could reach, when she’d had a couple of glasses of wine and decided it was singing time, and a well-deserved beer after a long day’s work. He’d spent his youth working as a handyman and mechanic until he’d saved up enough to buy a smallholding and rather than bring home the bacon, he farmed it. Susanna, on the other hand, worked behind a desk and between the two of them, there was always food on the table and money in the bank.

A simple life, that suited them both perfectly.

As the first few bombs hit, sending a chorus of explosions, screams and shattered glass across the city, George was inspecting the height of his barley and wondering if he’d finally worked up the courage to try making beer. It had been a dream of his ever since he’d bought the farm and he was finally starting to think he had the skill and knowledge to pull it off. As he continued to inspect his crops and feed his pigs and chickens, two more attacks were carried out killing a total of 675 people.

It wasn’t until he arrived back in the house that he, feeling a bit bored waiting for Susanna to get home, switched on the tv. The second half of the 6th repeat of the emergency newscast filled the room. At first, he thought some action movie was playing and it wasn’t until he realised it was playing on every channel that he started paying attention, and only then did he realise that something had happened. Something had changed. He watched in silence as he heard the president explain that a war had started. He watched in silence as brave news camera crews ran through a burning city to show the rest of the country what that really meant, and he winced when he saw one office block come crashing to the ground and the screen turn grey and then black.

He stood thinking about how much the world had changed while he was happily going about his simple life, when the door opened and a crying Susanna walked in and threw her arms around him.

Neither ate or slept that night, they just sat in silent embrace, connected to each other through fear and support. Each holding up the other. In the morning when the sun rose Susanna held onto George’s hand as he went out into the field to inspect the land and feed the animals, and when they got back into the house, he said the words she had been so hoping he wouldn’t say.

“I must help.”

A simple sentence, a simple idea that meant so much and for the second time in as many days, their whole world changed. They both knew, as if they had been sharing one mind for the whole night, that what they were saying in their silence was Susanna asking George to stay, and George telling her he had to go. In the morning she wasn’t just holding his hand, but learning how to keep the farm, and once that was done, he just had to announce what was happening. A short performance of what they had both known, but hadn’t said. After they had stared at each other for a long moment she went up onto her toes to kiss him, then let go of his hand, packed his bag, and drove him to the recruitment station. A kiss that was part permission and part promise, the acknowledgement that she understood and would be fine. A promise that he would do everything he could to come back to her, and after 7 years, he did.

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