Still Standing

old shed.miguel virkkunen

Photo credit: Miguel Virkkunen


When the drovers came, the survivors hid in the hills.  There was nowhere else to go.

They mourned, waited, rationed, hoped.

Finally, someone attacked the drovers.  The taen’s forces, presumably.  Although who the taen was now, nobody knew.

When it quieted, when the acrid smoke dispersed, they hobbled back.

Joenna and Yamaen stood before the barn.  The house was burned, the animals gone, the stores plundered, but the barn stood.

Yamaen growled at the vile words scrawled on the barn.  “Don’t let her see.” He limped closer, smeared the charcoal with his sleeve.  “Barbarians.”

Joenna let Peren down, but held her hand.

Yamaen sat, slumping, covering his face with bony hands.  “It’s all gone.  We have nothing.”

“Nonsense.  You have me, and I have you.”  She didn’t mention who they no longer had.  Focus on today.  Live for tomorrow.  She smiled until she believed it.  “And the late harvest, we have that.”

“Half the fields are ruined, you saw.”

“There are fewer of us to feed.  We’ll make it.”

He smiled her husband’s smile, nodded.  “My son chose well.”

“And we have Peren.”

“Yes.”  He reached out.

Peren staggered over, beaming.  “G’ampa!”

Yamaen held her tight. “That’s right.  See, you’re helping already.”


Inspired by this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge.  Thanks to Alastair Forbes for hosting, and for providing the photo prompt, below.  Click here to see the other stories, or to submit your own.


Photo © Al Forbes, A Mixed Bag


21 thoughts on “Still Standing

  1. A sad tale this time Joy. But I can imagine that this happened to people many times in history as well as in Eneana. Joanna has a great attitude and looks on the bright side of things despite the fact she lost her husband. But she has to be brave for her daughter’s sake and all they can do is the best they can do. I hope they have enough food. Well told story, I felt the emotion in this tale.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, I’m glad the emotion came through . Believe it or not, I really was trying to write a cheerful story this time! Ah well, I seem to be stuck in a tragic period in this region’s history. At least there’s an underlying idea of hope and perseverance in the face of tragedy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think Joenna’s perseverance is very inspiring. Maybe happy is hard to have when people are being killed and your life’s possessions, and your survival to a point, is in question. But I like the enduring spirit of your characters.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, reminds me of so many historical times. Daily event in Syria right now. Love how you hold us in suspense but then release the suspense later: the grandpa hint from the child’s mouth. Keeping going for the next generation. Great story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Heather! Yes, unfortunately themes like war and refugees and poverty have not become obsolete in the modern world. Luckily, neither have the themes of hope and love and supporting each other in the face of adversity. ❤


    • In the original version, they weren’t related — neighbors combining forces, and the child was a stranger’s orphan. It was hard to squeeze in the idea of people creating their own family units and how that had happened in the hills, though.


    • Thanks Sammi, I’m glad you liked it! Yes, another very emotional one, although at least this time I got in some optimism and love — our best weapons against those dark times.

      I really do keep meaning to write a light, funny piece again someday. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A sad event but with a very positive ending. Attacks of this sort on settlements have been common throughout history – and, unfortunately, still going on in some parts of the world (with modern methods of warfare to make the death toll even higher). I was surprised to find that Yamaen was the grandpa – cleverly brought out in the comment about smiling her husband’s smile. Nice twist there. Presumably, her husband was one of those killed. At least Joenna realised that life must go on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you liked it Millie, thanks for your comment! I experimented with a few relationships between the two before landing on this one — close enough that it makes sense they’re together, distant enough (especially if the marriage was somewhat recent) that they have yet to forge their bond. Before cutting it down to flash-size, it was more obvious that he was older and weak, and walking with a cane. And yes, life must always go on, but with hope or with despair? Joenna knows her husband would want her to care for his father. And for their daughter, of course!


      • It’s hard to cut down on a story, especially when you really like it with all the detail. I try to write flash with little detail to start with, although much of the advice about writing FF suggests ‘writing long’ and then cutting down.

        Liked by 1 person

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