No Answers: Prosery

Edward Hopper, “Automat,” 1927

We heard about D-Day, of course, we heard. It was the beginning of the end, though we didn’t know it then—not for certain. We didn’t know if it was permanent. I was cut-off from information like everyone else. In the ensuring months of battle, I faced uncertainty—and fear. And then, finally, I was safe in body, if not in mind. I still didn’t know if I’d been betrayed. What was I supposed to do with that? Finally an end to war, yet amidst the cheering for liberation, there was still devastation and loss. What were we to do with our ghosts? What were we to do with starvation, the many who traded sex with strapping American soldiers for a meal? These are the things they don’t tell us. I went home, but the past is a hunter, stalking us, taking us unaware.

For dVerse Prosery, Lisa has asked us to this line:

“These are the things they don’t tell us.”
– Girl Du Jour, from Notes on Uvalde

She has posted the poem on the prompt page. I’ve used the line to continue my Prosery spy series. Today, June 6, 2022, is the 78th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces landed in Normandy, in the invasion that led to the end of the Nazi occupation of France. This year, 98-year-old American veteran Charles Shay said:

“Ukraine is a very sad situation. I feel sorry for the people there and I don’t know why this war had to come, but I think the human beings like to, I think they like to fight. I don’t know,” he said. “In 1944, I landed on these beaches and we thought we’d bring peace to the world. But it’s not possible.”

65 thoughts on “No Answers: Prosery

  1. Merril, I like the image you chose to go with your prosery. Perhaps it is the uncertainty that keeps us paralyzed to take action. When I read the Charles Shay quote, it pulls me in two directions. One is to just let it take its course. The other is to do everything in our power to save who can be saved. And there, in the center, a small figure, caught in paralysis’ web 😦 Thank you for your thoughtful prosery on a vastly important day in world history.

  2. An amazing response to the prompt….written in first person so it puts the reader right into the scene. This reminds me of the PTSD my cousin had after serving in Viet Nam. He was never the same vibrant young man who went off to serve.

    • Thank you so much, Lillian. I think I’ve written all of this series in first person. I’m pleased you think it’s effective.
      I’m so sorry about your cousin. Unfortunately, I don’t think they knew how to treated veterans for PTSD then.

  3. Your spy series keeps expanding. History shows us it took several years to begin again after WWII. I wonder how long it will take to rebuild Ukraine; if they “win”. Hell, part of New Orleans were never rebuilt.

  4. You pulled me in and made me contemplate humanity once more, after reading the quote from Charles Shay. There truly are no answers, as your title states, but if we don’t reflect, we won’t learn our lessons. Great post!

  5. The melancholy here feels so real. They teach the glory of war, but anyone who as been a soldier, or known a soldier, knows better. The image of the past stalking is so apt for both your character and this world we live in. (K)

  6. A sad and timely continuation of your spy story, Merril: it feels like there is a different mood to this piece, perhaps reflecting the sadness of our times…

  7. Your story brought the tears, thank goodness. I thought they had dried up.
    What were we to do with our ghosts?….yes…and the past is a hunter..stalking…the words you researched and found from Charles Shay were numbing, wise, many gave so much….

  8. Thanks for remembering what June 6 signifies. Every year it gets less attention. No, the war in Europe was by no means over. It went on for another year with atrocities committed as the German army retreated. Then hunger and exploitation as in the wake of every conflict. You brought all of that into this short piece.

    • You’re welcome, and thank you very much.
      I read something about how some US soldiers were surprised that they weren’t greeted by smiles and cheers in Normandy right away because they didn’t understand the people were being cautious.

      • They had no notion of what it was like to live under nazi occupation. On the other hand, why did they think they were there? There were a lot of people in rural Europe who were terrified that the Germans would be back and there’d be the usual reprisals. It’s so awful the way war distorts the way human beings look at one another.

      • Yes, for the most part, they didn’t, though there were a few US soldiers who were immigrants who had escaped Nazi Germany and some who had family in occupied areas. And of course, the D-Day was important, and did spell the end. . .but no one can see the future.

      • I read that German Americans were allowed to fight in the Pacific rather than fight Germans. Strange to think that in the 1940s there were people who felt as much European as American.

      • It’s shameful when we look back at the numbers of Jews who were denied visas to enter other European countries and the US compared with the numbers of Ukrainians who have been welcomed everywhere. I didn’t realise the numbers were so small. There were only ever half a million Jews in Germany and only half of them were allowed into other countries over the whole decade of the 30s. Sickening.

      • 300,000 across the whole world in ten years! I think it was only in 1939 that the US even filled its standing immigration quota from Germany and Austria. Everybody bent over backwards to keep the Jews out.

  9. How incredibly sad that someone who fought in WWII and believed he was bringing peace to the world should now believe it’s not possible. It’s not just sad, it hurts, but I appreciate you sharing the quote. We need this long view.
    Like everyone else, I am so taken with the image of the past as a stalking hunter. Also, how much history you packed into this very short piece.

  10. This was, of course, a fabulous excerpt. I love how you have created this story with bits and pieces going back and forth in time, filling in as you go along. Such a wonderful use of the prompt.

  11. Oh all the questions! Love the way they broaden the content…especially ” What were we to do with our ghosts?” The ripples of war seem endless…

  12. Well done, Merril.
    I’ve been listening to “The Face of War” by Martha Gellhorn. I have to wonder what she would think of you piece. We do have a strange relationship with war and violence.

  13. I felt Ukraine in this write, even though it’s about WWII.
    Still, every war is any war. It’s a horror perpetrated on humanity.
    Some want to take, some must defend.
    It’s true heartache.

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