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(A short story of 1872 words)



by Edward Cartner

A retired soldier and widower visits a war grave and so discovers the identity of his father.

Yesterday I had come to the end of a long road, a bitter journey, I now recognised, that began on the day of my birth. There along a neatly swept cinder path, was mute confirmation that possibly a closure was in sight.

In the course of my work I had visited many commonwealth war cemeteries and so became familiar with the standard shaped headstone. Unusually, however, this one stood alone with alien dignity amidst elaborations of carved angels, unreadable inscriptions and rusting ironwork. It preserved a crisp, clean-edged and disciplined presence close inside a low boundary wall that seemingly prevented the whole place becoming a part of the foreshore that stretched towards the low-tide margin of the English Channel.

At my feet a hero was represented. He had lain undisturbed for two generations, a warrior as brave as any of the thousands who had stormed those implacable beaches sixty years ago. Like them his approach to this place would have been as an enemy and the defenders would have received him accordingly...

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