An Autumn Day

May 16, 2011

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The following is a work of fiction.

Jonathan heard the blue bird long before he saw it. There it was, to the left in that old pear tree, or maybe it was a plum tree. It was hard to tell from this distance. There were so few leaves left on the branches. He turned slowly to get a better look. He did not want to frighten the bird away. The song was so beautiful and peaceful. It was a song that brought joy back to life.

Jonathan looked up into the sky. The blue as almost the same color as the bird’s fine plumage. High thin clouds were a bright white contrast to the strong blue. His eyes dropped back to the bird. It seemed nervous, like it wanted to fly away but did not know what direction was safe.

Jonathan scanned the wheat field. It should have been ripe enough to harvest, but no one was working on the field. It was just a beautiful day in France. Jonathan had never dreamed he would ever be in France. Not in a million years. Heck leaving Nebraska had never even entered his mind, except those fantasies of space flight, but that was only in comic books. But here he was laying in a wheat field, in France, in September, listening to a blue bird sing.

He tried to remember the songs the blue bird songs from back home. They seemed warmer, friendly back home. This bird seemed lonely. There also seemed to be so many more birds back home, all competing to see who had the best song. Then there were the crickets. Jonathan had not heard a cricket since he had arrived. Did they even have crickets in France? Fireflies were missing, too. He remembered lazy September evenings with the fireflies and crickets and the distant call of an owl just waking up. Now those were the days.

The ground rumbled, then again but stronger. They were getting closer. “B Company, keep your heads down,” hollered the sergeant. Jonathan stole a look at the blue bird. It was still clinging to the burned branch. “Fly away. Get out of here,” Jonathan whispered. “Save yourself. Men are here and they will hurt you. Please go away.” He wanted to run over and shoo the bird away, but the artillery was getting too close. Soon, they could see the clouds of smoke, then the actual explosions with dirt flying high. “God save us,” Jonathan prayed as the shells marched closer.

He ducked his head even lower into his fox hole. The world exploded in noise and dirt. He was pushed left then right as the earth crushed against him. Clods of dirt hit his helmet. The noise was behind him now. He wanted to get out and run. “Stay, stay until sergeant tells you what to do,” Jonathan repeated the mantra to himself. It was how he had stayed alive. Sergeant would keep you alive if you listened to him, did exactly what he said. One more shell hit near by, but all the rest were far behind them.

“B Company, UP!!!” came the order from sergeant. Jonathan pulled himself up and out of his hole. He looked around. Where 50 men should have been forming up, only 20 were standing. The wheat in the field was flattened. He started running around a massive crater where he knew Jethro had been dug in. Jethro was from Oklahoma. He had a fiancé. His daddy had a thousand acres of land to raise cattle on. Jonathan hesitated just a second, then saw sergeant waving to him. Before joining the rest in the mad charge forward, he looked back to see the bird. It was gone … so were the remains of the tree.



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