The Leither Magazine, issue 87, has just been published in Edinburgh. Amongst the customary fusion of entertaining and invigorating writing there is a short story of mine.
Apples is a short piece of fiction (circa 800 words). The entire story unfolds in the space of two minutes as a World War Two veteran remembers shocking events while he stands in tribute to fallen colleagues.
In the fiction, this elderly Scot is casting his mind back to 1945. During the closing stages of the war in Europe the last remnants of the Wehrmacht were fighting a desperate rearguard action while the Allied forces closed in. His unit capture two Volkssturm - Home Guard - a rag tag bunch of hastily conscripted youths and veterans.
The event which inspired this story was real enough except the roles were reversed. My mother Mamie lived right through the war (she was seven when war was declared). She had an older cousin, Billy, who served with the British Army at the Normandy landings. During a German counter attack Billy was captured. At that stage in the conflict, escorting Allied prisoners hundreds of miles to the Stalags in Germany was seldom considered. Billy was officially listed as missing in action but in reality he would most likely have been summarily executed in some French ditch. Billy was 18.
His elder sister Blanche had been a member of the Young Communist League in the 1930s. She was there protesting outside the Usher Hall on June 1 1934 when Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts held an infamous rally as the fascists mobilised in Spain, Italy then Germany. This event degenerated into rioting and is described elsewhere in this website: Blackshirt rally.
Apples is all about how the past can resonate with the present. Edinburgh's teenagers faced traumas in the 1930s and 1940s that few of us today can begin to comprehend. But their stories remain crucially important.