Only the Flags Moved

He didn’t trust his his eyes. So he watched and waited. And when he was sure he called out, “Baba, Baba, it’s land. I see it.”

His father raised himself up on his elbows so he could see over the side of their dingy. He looked, then dropped back down, weakened by days of foul weather and lack of food. “I am glad, my son,” he murmured. “Now we can start to build a new life for you, to help you get a future.”

“And for you too, Baba,” said the boy, “For both of us.”

They were both quiet, both thinking about the terrible journey, how they had been cheated, how the rest of the family had been lost, taken by hunger, taken by the sea.

The boy watched carefully as the tide and currents slowly carried them towards the coastline, towards sanctuary. Eventually he could make out the crowd of people watching them. Standing and watching.

“They can see us, Baba. They have a telescope. They see us and are waiting. We are saved,” sang the boy.

And on the quayside, the people stood without speaking. Watching, waiting. Only the flags moved, blowing in the wind.

This for Sunday Photo Fiction 200 word challenge.

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20 Responses to Only the Flags Moved

  1. Oh, this is such a beautifully written, painful story! Those lines at the end, “And on the quayside, the people stood without speaking. Watching, waiting. Only the flags moved, blowing in the wind” chilled me to the bone.
    On a happier note, did you see these recent videos of how the people of Munich have been greeting refugees? Gives one hope.

  2. Thanks to your narrative, I can see the people, standing still and waiting, as if in a horror story. Perhaps they are simply waiting to help. But I have a feeling, that with only the flags flapping (nice touch of patriotism) there is no sanctuary for the young boy and his father.
    Wonderfully written and compelling. I hope my pod-people response is wrong.

  3. Al says:

    I like this. The question as to whether they will be welcomed or turned away. Good story, thank you.

  4. Good use of repetition – watching and waiting. I hope it is sanctuary awaiting them, but I have a nasty feeling it is something sinister.

  5. Steve Lakey says:

    I like the open ending. I hope there is a welcome waiting for them.

  6. Lyn says:

    Nicely written Patrick. I could hear the flags flapping in that otherwise silent final scene. I hope they made it okay.

  7. paulmclem says:

    Like the last bit. Have a soft spot for short stories which end with weather i.e. wind, cold rain, beating sun etc – leaves a clear picture in the mind.

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