Meet Me at Kings Park: An Anzac Story

This week I am using the suggestions of a friend of mine that were given to me a few months ago in practice of the Flash Fiction Challenge over at NYC Midnight. She’s a big fan of Jane Austen, so her suggestions were somewhat in line with that.

Genre: Historical Fiction.

Setting: A Park

Object: A Locket

This week, though, in the spirit of the Anzacs, I decided to base my story on that. It’s centered on remembrance and honouring the fallen soldiers at Gallipoli in 1915.

On 25 April, Australia commemorates 100 years since the Anzacs landed at Gallipoli during the First World War. It’s called Anzac Day, and it is perhaps one of the most notable days in the country’s history. I decided for this story, I wanted it to be visual, so for the first time, I have written a story with no dialogue. If this is not your thing, I can understand your aversion to reading it, so I made the story exactly 500 words long.

Mostly, though, I just hope it comes off as genuine and honours all that have fought in wars past & present.

Meet Me at Kings Park: An Anzac Story

Fiona watched as the dawn broke through the trees at Kings Park, her ascent along Fraser Avenue was nearing its completion. In the distance, she could see over 200 people standing listening to the final notes to “The Last Post” echoing from the bugle player. A single tear fell down Fiona’s cheek as she finished her contemplative stroll. Her hand unconsciously reached for the chain around her neck, carefully touching the locket at the end of it. She still remembered those final moments with Gregory over fifteen years ago.

The Head Nurse tendered Fiona a note with instructions to take some time off for the remainder of the afternoon, sorrow deep in her brow. Fiona only had to look briefly at the note to know what she must do. Removing her nurse’s cap, Fiona ran out to a Taximeter Car that was sitting outside the hospital with the driver hailing her from beside it.

They arrived at Kings Park 15 minutes later. She thanked the driver and provided him a high gratuity for his troubles before she ran to the tree where Gregory awaited her.

The tall tree was as lush and vibrant as ever, sitting between two park benches that looked out onto the Swan River.  He sat with his hands resting on his lap looking out towards South Perth. His posture was rigid, his hair shaved down to a number one, and his uniform finely pressed.

Fiona joined him on the bench, her hand reaching for his. He put his arm across her instead and stroked her hair. For a brief moment, she felt as if this was just a normal meeting. The restrained expression on his face denoted only his duty, though, and he spoke to her in hurried tones about 11th battalions and other-worldly destinations. His once jovial countenance now marred with the remorse of not knowing what the future held. They kissed passionately and completely, both knowing it may be their last, and after a few minutes of raw emotion, he gave her a final gift – a gold heart-shaped locket at the end of a delicate chain. Then he said as quickly as she had arrived, he was saying his goodbyes.

Fiona let a few more tears trickle down her cheeks. She had sat down in that same park bench now, looking out along Swan River and South Perth. The world had changed; she had changed. Gregory lost his life on 25 April 1915 at Gallipoli, but she had helped saved countless others, volunteering the day after he passed.

Fiona sighed deeply, startled back to reality as a man hobbled past to sit down beside her, his war wounds a permanent reminder. He was followed by a trio of children who sat down in front of the two as they all listened in silence at the final words of the service.

“Lest we forget.”

With heads bowed, they sat quietly together with gratitude in their hearts. “For all who have served, thank you,” Fiona whispered.

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3 thoughts on “Meet Me at Kings Park: An Anzac Story

  1. I thought I try some constructive feedback. From personal experience I know that can be both rewarding and painful, so hoping it is more in the former camp. I am not sure how useful the feedback will be – some of it is obviously about personal styles, but I hope it is useful

    There are two aspects that really stand out strongly for me. The first was the way you handled the subject matter – this is something particularly sensitive to Australians (and us Kiwis) and could have ended badly but I think you nailed this pretty good – Aussie is rubbing off on you (although Americans have there own equivalents). The second is the way you fit the story in such a small place – it works really well.

    Some (constructive) suggestions/comments.

    This is just a style suggestion, but you could put a bigger gap (maybe even add something like “* * *”) to break the front, middle and end. These are separate scenes and a bigger gap might highlight this difference, particularly between first and second paragraph.

    I thought the Head Nurse statement was interesting and perhaps deserved another sentence (whereas the Taxi was actually longer). The question in my mind was what was important about her giving leave and why was the head nurse sorrowful – she could be a martinet caught up in the nationalistic fervour, or perhaps she remembered sending off her own lover to the Boer war 15 years earlier.

    The Taxi seemed prominent despite only being a way to get from A to B. It could perhaps stick in her mind because the day was so important trivialities stuck in her mind, or it could be handled a lot simpler. There was a lot of patriotic jingoism at the time and this could also have been reflected. You might want to just use the word ‘cab’ instead of taximeter.

    I really liked the contrast between her focus on her lover and his focus on, what to her were trivialities like his battalion. Note that he was leaving before anyone knew how terrible the war would be and while she would naturally be fearful, his emotions might be more on the excitement and adventure and his comrades – and of course missing his lover. You could bring this contrast out more.

    For an emotional story stating the date seems too factual (dry). Perhaps say ‘first day of the battle’. There are a couple of possibilities you could touch on – he could have simply disappeared adding a faint/desperate hope pathos, or he could have sent her a letter from one of the hospital ships. You could tie these contrasting options to why she volunteered (I favour the idea he just vanished on the first day).

    I thought ‘number one’ haircut was a little jarring – I don’t think they actually had to do that, but perhaps she could run her hand through his shortened hair and be sad that his beautiful hair had gone as a symbolism of what she was about to lose.

    I am not sure about the saving countless lives statement/position. This is probably style but there is a timing aspect her – she might not have known he was missing/dead until weeks or months later. I suggest putting the volunteering first, once she got the news, and then saying she saved countless lives after, perhaps seeing each one she saved as a counter (or victory?) against the grief of her own personal loss?

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    1. All very great feedback, Pete! I think the parts you mentioned felt the most forced to me when writing it, but couldn’t think of a better way to get the ideas across. Australia has rubbed off on me a bit. hehe I’m glad it came off genuine, tho! Thanks so much for reading it and giving such great feedback!

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