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The whole town was quiet, except for the solemn ringing of church bells. As he walked through the streets, he saw countless windows with the curtains drawn tight. Kids in their Sunday best, even though it were Wednesday, being dragged along to church to pray. Women in black, looking daggers at him.

He knew what they were thinking.

He walked on.

Everywhere it was the same picture. He stopped by the door of the pub. It was open, but no laughter came drifting out. No singing. Inside there was nothing but empty chairs and empty tables.

He walked on.

His own house lay just ahead. The curtains were drawn just as tight as anywhere else. He paused with his foot on the step. The ghosts at the pub almost seemed like a more attractive option.

He opened the door and walked in. It was silent and cold, despite the summer heat. He stopped and looked at the black-edged cards displayed along the mantelpiece.

He sat down with a sigh and pulled his boots off.

Why him, he thought. It was the question those women in black were asking, with their sharp eyes and jealous hearts.

Why, of all the men who’d marched away four years before, was he the only one to come home?

Why, when he was the only one that had nothing to come home to?

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: I think I have to apologise for the depressing nature of today’s story. If you find something cheerier to read, please let me know as I think I should be reading it!)