Freedom - entry July by Carin Marais

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SUMMARY: Entry for July Flash Fiction Contest.


(For Piet)

He stared out to the horizon as his few possessions, stuffed in a duffle, were unceremoniously dumped beside him. The wagon that had brought him this far rumbled on, the other few passengers silent, their eyes cast down. For a moment he remained standing in the dust. He slowly swung his bag on his shoulder and strode to where the house used to stand proud against the sky. The ground beneath his feet had the look of new life about it. New, green shoots of grass contrasted with the burned clumps of grass and burned fields that stretched as far as the eye could see. It would take more than one season to get the fields back to what they once were. If it could ever be done.
The small group of people huddled in front of the burned house at first looked like emaciated strangers. Until he recognised his wife's eyes. The were filled with life, once. Lifeless now. His family was destroyed. His house burned. His fields trampled to dust that blew, swirling, in the eastern wind. He put his pack down. Maybe there would be better chance of surviving on the rolling plains up north.
Should he kiss his wife? She looked so different now.
His older brother stepped forward, holding out a calloused hand. He took it in silence.
"You're back," his brother stated the obvious.
"Aye. A free man, now."
His wife nodded her head, stepping towards him. She only kissed him on the cheek. Like a stranger.
She spoke softly. "War's over."