Second Campaigner Challenge (Three for the price of one)

Rachael Harrie’s Second Campaigner Challenge of her Fourth Platform-Building Campaign is a bit of a challenge. There are one text prompt and four picture prompts, and a number of different ways to do the challenge. One can write a pitch or logline for a book, write an unconventional poem, write a flash fiction piece of under 200 words, write a 5-sentence story, or write a poem or flash fiction piece describing one of the pictures without using key identifying words. For an added challenge, one may complete at least three of the challenges and tie them together with a theme, write in a genre one doesn’t normally do, and ask for a writing critique.

I was originally starting out with a flash fiction piece starting with the picture of kids in a garbage heap, during the first day my character Clementine Kevorkian (one of Cinnimin and Violet’s mutual granddaughters, born 1987) has in Nepal during her time in the Peace Corps (which would start in 2009). Then I realized it wasn’t going in the direction of a self-contained piece of microfiction, but read more like just part of a much longer scene, so I picked another of my characters to write the flash fiction about. Then I went back and used Clementine’s story for the 5-sentence story. For the poem, I decided to try my hand at writing a freestyle haiku.

My first story shows Jakob DeJonghe and his friend Dries Quackenboss in Holland during WWII, while they’re still just partisan fighters, probably sometime in 1944, which would make Jakob about 18. Jakob, a survivor of Westerbork, leapt from a train taking him and his mother to Poland, and landed so hard on his right ankle that he got himself a limp. He was found by Dries and three other young men in the partisans, nursed back to health, and accepted into their ranks after his recovery, even in spite of having a limp. In early 1945, Jakob and his friends are made official soldiers in the Princess Irene Brigade of the Dutch Free Forces, and Jakob earns the rank of a lieutenant, eventually rising to Major. After the liberation of Holland, they’re sent to fight the Japanese in the Dutch East Indies. By the time Jakob is honorably discharged, he’s been awarded a Bronze Lion and an Order of Orange Nassau. Dries and two of their friends receive the Order of William, the oldest and highest honor of Holland.

***

Jakob leaned against the rusty excuse of a support system for the bombed-out concrete bridge, his hair wet from sweat.  At least this time it was Dries and not Jakob who’d injured his leg.  Jakob didn’t know what he’d do if he hurt his gimpy leg again, or if he injured his left leg and had no stronger leg left.

“I don’t even know what cut me,” Dries gasped as Jakob liberally doused his wound with iodine. “I didn’t see any sharp objects or glinting metal when we were digging through the remains of that traitorous NSBer’s house.  All I was expecting to find were incriminating documents, money, stuff we could use.”

Jakob’s gaze drifted upwards. “Only a few years ago Emilia and I were playing kickball on top of the bridge.  I can still see my little sister in her shiny new red coat, running to kick the ball back to me.  Then after we got home our mother served candied pears to us on fancy wooden spoons.”

Dries fanned the iodine over his wound to try to get it to dry quicker and stop stinging, then pulled out his kaleidescope. “At least these patterns will distract me.”

***

Watching half-dressed ragamuffins digging through a garbage heap was not Clementine’s idea of a welcome to her Peace Corps assignment in Nepal.  They’d never known a carefree childhood like she and her siblings, had never just played ball on a beautiful promenade overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  Nor had they probably eaten healthy food like pears, apples, oranges, or tempeh.  As she followed her team leader to her new living quarters, she averted her eyes from two more children sitting under a partly-collapsed bridge, one of the children with a rather serious leg wound.  She could hardly wait for nightfall, when she’d be able to use her new portable telescope, a college graduation present from her gadget-loving uncle Robert, so she could gaze up at the beautiful, peaceful galaxies and try to forget she’d been stationed in the slums of Nepal.

 ***

Kaleidescope pear

Garbage heap under a bridge

Boy chases a ball

14 thoughts on “Second Campaigner Challenge (Three for the price of one)

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed your unique writing. Well done!

    Jakob didn’t know what he’d do if he hurt his gimpy leg again, or if he injured his left leg and had no stronger leg left. This was my favorite line.

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    • I have a limp myself (also in my right foot), so I was drawing on personal experience for that bit. (I was run over by a car and pinned underneath in August 2003.) It’s kind of eerie how Jakob and the primary antagonist in my Russian novels both received limps long before I got my own. Almost as if subconsciously I knew I’d one day have my own limp and be able to draw on firsthand experience when writing that part of their characters.

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  2. I really enjoyed this! I especially like how the mother served “candied pears on wooden spoons.” Clever way to use that prompt! 🙂

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