William and Joseph

This post is part of the 100 Word Challenge for Grown-Ups at Julia’s Place.

They met at the same time every year, William and Joseph, under the stone memorial – the one engraved with “lest we forget”.

William arrived first and set to work clearing up chip wrappers, cigarette ends and empty cans. Joseph arrived 5 minutes later, and looked in dismay at the graffiti-covered monument. He held out a newspaper to show William the headline: “Bomb in Baghdad Kills 8!”

“How many poppies this year?” he asked, lip quivering.

“A few. Fewer than last year.”

“How long has it been?”

“Not long. Less than 100 years.”

“William,” he said sadly, “I think they forgot why we died.”

While you are here, I want to ask you a favour. I’ve been short-listed for a prize in a writing competition at the Writers Bureau. They have published the 4 best entries and it’s now up for a public vote to choose the winner. Unfortunately this makes it less about the writing and more about a popularity contest, but with a writing course up for grabs I want to win anyway! If any of you have a Facebook account, please would you visit the Writers Bureau page, scroll down to find my entry (it’s the one about the pumpkin) and leave a comment (clicking Like doesn’t count as a vote). The four entries are only the length of 1 tweet so won’t take long to read and I would be really, really, REALLY grateful! My entry was just in the lead last time I looked, but it’s really close!

And finally, why not share the way you approach the 100 Word Challenge.
each week?

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31 Responses to William and Joseph

  1. Anna Halford says:

    This is a very moving piece Sally-Jayne. Let’s hope they are never forgotten. Reading and writing this week’s challenge has been uplifting and sad rolled into one.

    On a lighter note, good luck with the WB competition. 🙂

  2. Andy wts says:

    “I can see dead people, SJ” And I don’t think they’d be alone by the cross either. And who says they are? Poignant messages in this – “graffiti-covered monument, bomb in Baghdad, fewer than last year”. Ghost stories are FAB and, no doubt, Ian has plenty of material. You get my vote and so does the pumpkin 🙂

  3. I like your 100 word entry. Why do we forget so much? I tried to vote, but I couldn’t find your entry and ran out of time. Will look again, later.

    Great work

    • sjbteaching says:

      Thanks Lisa. It is sad that we forget, but I think the longer ago it was, the less real it seems to people.
      Thanks for trying to vote. Because the entries are so short it’s a real case of blink and you’ll miss them. They are quite a way down the page now, but all 4 are together which helps and they are all preceded by “Leave a comment if you want this story to win.”

  4. I love ghost stories – and historical ghosts tick all my boxes. A moving piece. And I left a message on the sinister pumpkin.

  5. Steve says:

    I love this one! Little humor and a little sadness, combined with a clever use of the prompt!

  6. Alison Green says:

    I love the way you described them clearing the litter. I could see these dear old gentlemen talking together. Poignant and lovely.

    • sjbteaching says:

      Thanks Alison. It’s interesting that you see them as old gentlemen. In my head they are just kids, killed before their time. William is about 19, and Joseph and his brother George (who I had to edit out) are a couple of years younger. I wanted to put the ages in but the word count didn’t allow.

      • Andy wts says:

        I thought they were old too, but how could they be, they died young? On reflection I thought twenties, as they must have fought. I assumed their names were on the memorial. I guess, since such a long time has passed, we all infer that they’re old.

  7. Dughall McCormick says:

    This is clever, SJ. I didn’t see the twist coming. It works really well.
    You have communicated some powerful and important messages in a very accessible way.

    • sjbteaching says:

      Thanks Dughall. That’s exactly what I wanted to achieve. I guessed there would be some real tear-jerkers this week, so I wanted to write something with a serious message but in a non-serious way. Well….that and the fact that I just can’t do serious writing!

  8. Lynda says:

    That was unexpected. What a lovely and different approach. Great idea, beautifully executed.

  9. Robin Hawke says:

    Cleaning trash has never been so poignant, Robin

  10. Julie says:

    An interesting and clever piece of writing. I see them as young men, questioning their contribution as we have over the last 93 years learn’t nothing which is tragic.

  11. says:

    I love this story. It moved me very much, and the deceptive simplicity of it’s structure enhances its powerful message.

  12. sjbteaching says:

    Thank you Robin and Julie.

  13. Bill Dameron says:

    Excellent surprise ending, like the sixth sense, and so poignant.

    I voted for your story! Looks like you are still in the lead.

    • sjbteaching says:

      Thanks Bill! I didn’t win in the finish, but I really appreciate your vote.
      Glad you liked the twist at the end. I thought people might realise early on, but it seems nobody did.

  14. Susan Mann says:

    Very beautiful. So well written, moving and very clever. It flows and reads perfectly.

    Also congratulations on being shortlisted. I am off to vote x

  15. Julia says:

    This is such a touching piece Sally-Jayne! I can picture the scene beautifully and the sadness in their eyes.

  16. gsussex says:

    Moving and clever twist at the end

  17. Susan Mann says:

    This is beautiful. So well written and so touching, I had tears in my eyes x

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