WAR, PETER AND OTHER THINGS.
During the war, Peter had incurred the most gruel of fatal attacks: a seven-bullet and bomb rupture on his left leg. He had been sent home and had the leg amputated.
A week after the surgery, his wife, Anna, had lost the fight to cancer. She’d died leaving Peter with their lovely daughter, Clara.
As the war had raged all around him, he’d longed to see his sweet family, feel the warmth of real “love- making” and have his nights spoilt by the persistent bawling from Clara.
But, Peter hadn’t cried after the burial. Instead, he’d spent hours away from the world, locked up in his home; seated by the fireplace, smiling to himself as he conjured up the perfect mental image of his wife. She’d always stood in a vast green field, almost naked, save for a flimsy white cloth provokingly hitched around her loins and her red flowing hairthat gave off an eerily exciting silhouette against the unreal outlook of frowning dark clouds.
That image was enough for Peter; it was always the same. He’d loved the beautiful absolute silence of the fields as he drank in his Wife’s fullness and she’d smiled at him fixedly for hours till sleep beckoned.
He’d done this every other day; A man who succumbed to the joy of his fantasies. His head was his escape; A path toward temporary peace until its shift ended and sleep takes over. He was a slave to his mind: unshaven, bitter and distant; a submissive servant to the domineering encroachment of a sad Man’s imagination.
He’d stay indoors for weeks at a time and only venture out as far as his front porch to drag in his food supplies which would have been left there by the inquisitive Army lads.
His daughter, Clara, who had gone to live with their Aunt Olive after Anna’s death was finally home. After months of back and forth heated phone calls and legal battles, Peter had won!
Clara had grown into a beautiful 10 year old with Puffy cheeks, curious eyes and her mother’s hair.
Aunt Olive and her 7 foot tall righteous husband had cast a disapproving eye over Peter’s face, their lips pursed in suppressed anger as they took in the litter-strewn parlor.
Peter had stared them down, walked her out and slammed the door in their face. He had his Wife’s company and could as well do with a little more touch from his Daughter.
Peter had limped up to his usual spot by the fireplace. He’d stared into the flames and started his route to peace.
Outside, it was drizzling as little Clara wadded into the room, feet thumping on the mahogany board floor.
Peter heard the sound in his head but shut it out as he focused on his wife. He didn’t want to miss today’s date. He’d never missed any and never will.
He will maintain his marriage pact: For better, for worse.
FRIDAY, 1947, 6:30 AM
Peter heard a crunching sound and slowly, laboriously, dragged his eyes from his wife’s hips and looked around. Little Clara was munching on one of the cold left-over crabs from yesterday’s dinner. She glanced at him, grinned, belched happily and went on chewing.
The rain had ceased.
The cold left in its wake was a mixture of blissful chill and longing silence.
Just like the war.
The chewing was unnecessarily loud. Every little crunch seemed to slam into his brain and rally along his train of thought disturbing his concentration.
Peter clenched his fists and tried to focus on his Wife but as Anna smiled, he could see little crab parts dangling from her lips which grew longer till they moved slowly towards Peter, aiming for his heart.
They were real.
He’d yelped and snapped around.
‘Go to your room! Clara, Now! ‘Peter had bit out through gritted teeth, his arms clenched on the sides of his chair.
‘Now, I say, now!’ He’d yelled at Clara, spittle flying from his mouth as her eyes widened.
She’d closed them, blinked up at him; her eyes glazed with tears, and started crying.
A loud sound that punished his soul. There and then, He hated her.
Yet, she cried: cried in a nasty way and ran to him, arms stretched out, her face was red and blotchy; Her Feet loud, too loud for a 10 year old. Every step she took brought Peter to his senses. His eyes widened and the blur in his mind gave way to rude clarity.
She was the enemy.
He grabbed his crutch in shaking hands, heart pumping. His throat was dry and he felt like throwing up.
…yells of terror,
“Attack!” he thought
She was a foot closer when the iron caught her legs. She was lifted off her feet, hurtled forward and hit her head on the iron armchair with a dull sickening crunch.
Her body thudded on the floor; her head slipped after, dragging and squelching down the chair’s handle and restedin drops of her own blood.
Her left eye opened and stared at Peter’s one leg.
‘Dada’ she whispered,
FRIDAY 1947, 6:40AM
Slowly, a sniffing Peter propped up his one leg upon a table. His shoulders were stiff with pride, his back straightened with expectation: A pat was surely incoming, or a bark of approval, for a job well done, an order carried out, a command obeyed…
He stared into the flames. This time, his Wife held a baby in her arms: Little Clara.
The fear and confusion eased from his face and he sighed in apparent satisfaction.
She looked so happy.
As she hugged her Mum.
His name was Peter.
A happy one-legged man in an iron armchair with nothing to do but stare at, spend time with, and protect his family from the war all day.
Eku Williams lives in West Africa, Sierra Leone. He writes poetry and short fiction. He writes about deeply melancholic souls, dark voids, and twisted themes. When he isn’t adding questions and suspense to his writings, he dreams of characters who seek to find comfort in their own little and weird worlds.