By Romana Guillotte
Her mother would say it was her idea,
but Rebecca had been laying the groundwork for months: pamphlets here,
novels there, and casual articles on the anniversary of the war. A
travel brochure marking the war anniversary was the icing on the cake.
Now Rebecca was squishing around in the green fields of France on that
misty November morning. She wasn’t entirely sure how she picked that
particular brochure--so far the tour hadn’t impressed her.
“All this was a battlefield for World War I, called
the Great War at its time.” The tour guide struggled with syntax, but
Rebecca let it slip, considering she did too. While all around her was
green, the only colors she knew about World War I were gray, tan and
brown. Dreamily she gazed over the long stretches of grass.
“The trenches were said to stretch for some
kilometers on both sides.” The tour guide motioned in strange parallel
manner that must have been cultural. Rebecca gave a small humorous
shake of the head and saw a nearby tree. She wondered if it had
witnessed the horrible carnage—it certainly looked old enough. Slow
motion images of men in tin helmets, blowing whistles and charging out
onto No Man’s Land played before her eyes and made her blink. With a
frown, Rebecca wandered toward it, and realized something was urging
her forward to touch the tree. Something...she wasn’t sure what,
but it had been a long trip and searching for the right words seemed
extra difficult at this point.
On the other hand,
and on the other side of time, you had Daniel. Or Lt. Daniel Reed.
Either way, he hadn’t wanted to join the Army, but everyone was doing
it and he didn’t want to look like the patsy, so he did it. His
mother was surprised when he emerged from father’s library, on his last
day at home, in uniform. Then off he went despite the tears in her eyes
and his sister’s eyes.
Now he was stuck. Stuck with a shoulder wound,
stuck in France, stuck in No Man’s Land – or the edge of it. He slinked
to a nearby sapling just out of sight of the enemy and leaned against
it, a miracle it survived. What could he do? What do they do that was
so noble and heroic in all those books he read?
Rebecca stopped at
the tree. Her fingertips barely touched the bark when there was a
spark. When her palm met the surface, she saw something hazy out of the
corner of her eye, flickers of light. Both hands on the tree now, and a
whole portal into another world opened. A soldier leaned against it.
And he was in full WWI soldier regalia. She took a breath.
For a moment,
Daniel thought the air had gotten to him, perhaps it was a gas attack,
for he swore he saw a girl standing next to him in a smart coat and
Wellies. She looked as surprised to see him as he was to see her.
Daniel reached out in curiosity and their hands met in a comfortable
and congenial handshake. She was real all right, but what she was
doing on the field might take some explanation.
“We’ll be continuing on,” A French voice called in
She sighed. “Thank you, whoever you are.”
Daniel, taken aback, said, “Thank you, angel lady.”
Then the woman was gone. Daniel slumped to the
ground, just in time to miss a bullet in the shoulder. And to hear a
nearby whisper for help. Slowly he slinked toward the wounded
soldier. They crawled to safety together, or what they hoped
would be safety. Hard to tell in a war.
Back on the bus,
the tour guide flashed a smile as she handed out thick cards written in
French, English, German, and Japanese. “Please let us know about your
experience, we could use suggestions, as our tour is new.”
“New?” Rebecca blurted for some reason.
It caught the young guide’s attentions. “Yes.”
“Oh…well nice job.”
The guide looked to pat herself on the back. “Merci,
Rebecca smiled and pulled out a pen.
© 2015 Romana Guillotte
Guillotte is an MFA Screenwriting Candidate at UNLV, though more
importantly a terribly average cellist and a ginger that loves dragons.
She writes reviews for “Marc Gunn’s Celtic Music Magazine” and had
flash fiction shorts appear in “Foliate Oak Literary Magazine”, “Slink
Chunk Press”, and “Grievous Angel Magazine.”
E-mail: Romana Guillotte
Comment on this
story in the Aphelion
Return to Aphelion's
Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum
Return to Aphelion's Index page.