The Lost Soldier

Short story Image 1James’ Literature and Composition teacher gave the students this picture and said “write a short story of no more than 900 words based on this image”. She is always challenging the students in creative ways.  It does remind me of some of the lessons James has done with Soma and other RPM practitioners. I think once people are fluent on the letter board it is a great idea to write stories based on images.  I have not met a person with autism who doesn’t have a great imagination. When James writes for school he has help editing and he gets feedback from his teacher on outlines and drafts. His short story below:

The Lost Soldier

The snow berates the men as they await the train, and it obstructs the view of the women, who stand sheltered in the nearby makeshift station. Weeping streams from the station and echoes through the otherwise silent evening. The men look onward, unable to utter an intelligible word, because their thoughts transfix them. They stand, listless, reminiscing their past, mourning their unborn dreams, and realizing their uncertain, but vicious, future. This night marks the beginning of the Civil War for this small town.

            Throughout the following months, the women romanticize the proposals of marriage made in haste before the men left for the war, but they also focus on their responsibilities at home. One woman, Nadia, becomes the town nurse as the doctors move to the battlefields.

When the first train arrives to bring home soldiers, all of the women gather at the station. They anticipate joyful reunions and celebrations of love, but instead only wounded men disembark. Nadia tends to the men and listens to their stories of comrades lost to war. Despair looms over the town like a dense fog, and it feeds on love and hope until none remain.

Nadia, however, awaits every train, even after the wounded stop coming. The town, shocked by grief, fail to realize that Nadia still waits for her fiancé. After the last train, the town dismantles the makeshift station. Still, on Sunday evenings, Nadia walks along the tracks and passes the old train that never stops.

Five years after the end of the Civil War, Nadia still walks this path, but now as a married woman. She leaves flowers by the old station in memory of her lost fiancé who never returned home.

At work one day, an unfamiliar couple walks into her hospital. They travel up from Georgia on their way home to Virginia, but the woman went into labor early so they stopped             in this small town. Nadia recognizes the man, but surely it must be a coincidence because her fiancé died in the war. She continues to think over the possibilities while helping the woman deliver her baby. Her musings cease when the baby fails to cry and the new mother pales. She shouts for a doctor and he whisks the baby away. Nadia remains with the woman and successfully stops the bleeding that threatened her life, but if the baby wailed it went unnoticed.

Finally, the man asks for the nurse’s name who saved his wife. She whispers “Nadia. My name is Nadia.” They both stare at the other, transfixed by the effects of time and experience now etched into their faces.

“I couldn’t return. Not after all I had seen.” The man’s voice stammers, “I thought you would move on without me.”

Nadia pauses a moment, and then replies, “I did I guess. I am glad you survived. I will go check on your baby so your wife can see him when she awakes.” Then, Nadia leaves the room.

Hours later, as the sun starts to filter through the darkness, the doctor carries a healthy baby boy to meet his parents. While the family reunites with smiles and cooing, Nadia wanders her path to the old train station. She stops to look at the flowers she left yesterday, and falls into a heap beside them.

On his morning walk home, the doctor, her husband, finds her cold body still curled by the flowers. The unfamiliar new family leaves town before the doctor can mourn his wife at the funeral.



3 thoughts on “The Lost Soldier

  1. Wow, Well done. He captures a lot of pathos in just a few words. He was able to enter into the grief of the era and communicate it. Submit it to some publication.

    Thanks for sharing.


  2. I evaluated James’s story and have a few suggestions for improvement. Don’t I always? 😉

    That said, this story shows how much promise James has a writer!

    BTW, the class will be assigned one more image story this year, but this second time with image writing, students may choose between writing a story and writing a poem — a rhyming poem. See the homework site; the image has been posted.

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