Ruth Remembers

Ruth Preston squinted her eyes against the beams of sun penetrating her worn curtains.  Her inclination was to pull the comforter over her head and hibernate, but despite the aches, she had to rise.

Every day, she mechanically lived the same routine.  Bitterly, she wondered if her mother destined her to a difficult life, like her biblical namesake.  Unlike the biblical Ruth, Ruth Preston had faith in no one.

In 1954, her fellow Americans enjoyed prosperity, the atrocities of war a distant memory.  She resented how easily they could forget.  For her, war would always feed the root of her misery.  Sometimes she wondered if she would be so broken if she’d never felt happiness at all.

She still heard his voice.  “Four years, and then I can get a better job,” Robert had told her.  When he shaved his head, signed the enlistment papers and kissed her goodbye, he was supposed to come back.  Instead, two years later, the USS Delphy ran aground, along with six other ships.  Her Robert had been one of the casualties.

Their two-year-old twins, James and Joseph, didn’t understand.  Each night at bedtime, she had to break their hearts again by answering their questions with, “Daddy is in heaven.”  She never admitted her doubts that such a place existed.

Seventeen years later, her sons surprised her with the news they had enlisted in the Navy.  She never had the chance to talk any sense into them.  One week later, they left for training.  As she hugged each, déjà vu overwhelmed her.

After the bodies from the USS Arizona had been recovered, Ruth buried her sons.  They had followed their father’s footsteps all the way to the grave.  She resented that death had not come for her as well.

For thirty-one years, she had placed flowers by polished headstones.  She needed the world to remember those markers were more than stone; that someone cried for them.

Ruth knew recollection was necessary to stop repetition of past mistakes.

11-11 Arlington National Cemetery11


TrifectaPicture11-1This is my response to Trifecta’s weekly prompt, which was to write a piece between 33 and 333 words using the following word/definition:

Remember (verb):  3 a :  to keep in mind for attention or consideration <remembers friends at Christmas>; b :  REWARD <was remembered in the will>

This being Veteran’s Day in the US, I couldn’t help but write of military service.  If we aren’t touched by loss, it’s easy to not think about the families that are without loved ones.  Although this story is fiction, the deaths on USS Delphy in 1923 and USS Arizona in 1941 are real events in history.

I wish you peace on this Monday.


71 thoughts on “Ruth Remembers

  1. Debbie November 11, 2013 / 9:34 AM

    This almost breaks my heart, Janna. To think that this poor woman had to suffer *three* losses because of war! What a timely reminder of the courage and sacrifice so many have made that we might live free!

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2013 / 8:31 PM

      I’m glad you felt something after reading the story. It was a bit obvious to write about this on Veteran’s Day with the prompt, but I couldn’t help it 🙂 Thanks for taking time to stop by and read it, Debbie!

  2. theinnerzone November 11, 2013 / 10:45 AM

    Heart breaking post! The last line sums it all up, beautifully.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2013 / 8:31 PM

      Thanks for reading, Theinnerzone – I appreciate it!

  3. Quickstepp November 11, 2013 / 10:53 AM

    Wonderfully touching and heartbreaking. Very apt for today.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2013 / 8:32 PM

      Thanks, Quickstepp! I see you have another segment in your creepy series…I can’t wait to see what happens next (or maybe I should read it in the daylight?M:))

  4. Imelda November 11, 2013 / 11:17 AM

    This is so poignant and touching, Janna. I feel for Ruth.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2013 / 8:33 PM

      Thanks, Imelda. I appreciate you stopping by to read it!

  5. J. Milburn November 11, 2013 / 12:21 PM

    Beautiful and sad. It reminds of the story of Mrs. Sullivan, who lost all five of her sons at the same time when their ship sank. Instances like that and the one you point out in the story are why family members can no longer serve together on the same ship. So at least one lesson was learned. Hopefully the most important lesson will follow…someday. Wonderful work!

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2013 / 8:39 PM

      I heard about that- such a tragedy. I can’t imagine that woman’s heartache. When I was looking up information for this piece, I read that there were 23 sets of brothers died on the USS Arizona. So yes, we’ve learned some lessons, but as you note, more follow! Thanks for your thoughtful comment, J. I appreciate you taking time to read it.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2013 / 8:39 PM

      Thank you for stopping by to read and share your reaction, Kathy!

  6. ym1611 November 11, 2013 / 12:50 PM

    Oh wow, this is beautiful! I love how everything is, just as: the war, the twins, the heartbreak. Ruth is probably one if the strongest women I’ve read about 🙂

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2013 / 8:41 PM

      You’ve mentioned part of the irony about Ruth – she thinks she’s the opposite of her because she has faith in no one, but her courage is just like biblical Ruth 🙂 Thanks so much for reading, YM!

  7. philosophermouseofthehedge November 11, 2013 / 12:52 PM

    “For thirty-one years, she had placed flowers by polished headstones. She needed the world to remember those markers were more than stone; that someone cried for them.”
    Heavy words of great importance.
    One of the best posts I’ve read today. Well done

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2013 / 8:43 PM

      I appreciate you reading, Phil – and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. We need to remember.

  8. nrhatch November 11, 2013 / 4:17 PM

    I have conflicted feelings about Veterans Day ~ in WWI and WWII, I’m convinced that we fought a necessary evil and the world is a better place as a result of crushing Hitler and bombing Japan. We were standing up to the BULLIES.

    But since then I feel that most wars are fought for profit due to the Military Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned us against.

    I often wonder at our motives at continuing to engage in wars.

    I would like the focus of Memorial Day and Veterans Day to be PEACE.

    • nrhatch November 11, 2013 / 4:19 PM

      Also, I have more sympathy for people who are DRAFTED and then killed. People who enlist voluntarily “assume the risk.”

      • jannatwrites November 11, 2013 / 8:46 PM

        I can see your point, Nancy. I don’t know that all young people realize the magnitude of war when they sign up for for the military (my cousin didn’t.)

        • nrhatch November 11, 2013 / 8:52 PM

          They probably don’t realize its magnitude because military service is “glorified” with words like courage, honor, valor, patriotism, etc.

          What kid wouldn’t want to go play with guns and tanks and come home to a hero’s welcome? 😐

        • jannatwrites November 11, 2013 / 8:57 PM

          Haha, true enough, Nancy. And it doesn’t help that in the video games, you reset and everyone gets back up to ‘fight’ again. There is no preparation for watching a friend die or living with the guilt and “should’ve been me” feelings…

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2013 / 8:44 PM

      I would agree that some of the wars were for reasons other than defending our freedom or keeping peace. I think the motives have become about personal profit for those in power. I’m with you on PEACE 🙂

  9. Eric Alagan November 11, 2013 / 4:54 PM

    What terrible hell on earth for Ruth. So sad.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2013 / 8:47 PM

      Yes, it would be a horrible thing to live through. Thanks for reading, Eric!

  10. Lance November 11, 2013 / 6:59 PM

    sad, poignant and well-written

    Congratulations on another Gold Medal at trifecta. Your writing gets stronger and stronger every post. attagurl, janna

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2013 / 8:49 PM

      I’m glad you ‘felt’ the story, Lance! Thanks for your compliment of my writing – I’m glad it seems to be getting stronger 🙂 I was blown away by the win last week, but am honored that people voted for my story.

  11. pattyabr November 11, 2013 / 7:34 PM

    very nice piece for Veteran’s Day, Janna. We must remember lest we forget.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2013 / 8:50 PM

      Thanks, Patty. I couldn’t help but do this one today, obvious or not. I’m glad you stopped by to read it 🙂

  12. Momo November 11, 2013 / 8:57 PM

    Beautiful writing, Janna, as usual. This was a really moving piece.

    • jannatwrites November 12, 2013 / 12:38 AM

      Thank you so much for reading, Momo. I appreciate it!

  13. Deborah November 12, 2013 / 2:40 AM

    I don’t think there is a subject you can’t write about! I always enjoy your writing, but this just jumps right off the page. Bravo!

    • jannatwrites November 12, 2013 / 10:00 AM

      What a nice compliment, Deborah – thank you! I’m so glad you ‘felt’ this story.

  14. Tara R. November 12, 2013 / 6:21 AM

    There is a military cemetery near me aboard NAS Pensacola. Whenever I visit the base, and see all those uniform, white crosses… in uniform rows, it tears at my heart. This was beautiful.

    • jannatwrites November 12, 2013 / 10:05 AM

      Thanks, Tara. Those large cemeteries are sobering to look at. Arizona has a memorial cemetery as well (my grandparents are there) but was nothing compared to Arlington.

  15. Annabelle November 12, 2013 / 8:41 AM

    I like the choice of the name; it gives even more weight to the burden life has given her, and her lack of faith makes it more poignant. Well done.

    • jannatwrites November 12, 2013 / 10:14 AM

      Thanks, Annabelle! I felt the name mattered too, so I’m glad you saw it as well 🙂

  16. steph November 12, 2013 / 11:33 AM

    You are on that proverbial roll, Janna. I loved your winning entry last week. And this one is wonderfully and poignantly written. I also agree with Annabelle about the name’s significance. That’s a nice touch.

    • jannatwrites November 12, 2013 / 9:46 PM

      I’m glad you liked my story last week, Steph. I was (am) surprised at the recognition it received! I appreciate you stopping by to read this story, too.

  17. Renada Styles November 12, 2013 / 2:11 PM

    “that someone cried for them”…i think that says it all, we have to remember that it’s not only the soldiers that suffer, it’s their families as well, and sometimes it is the families that suffer more. truly a heartbreak tale for this week of remembrance.

    • jannatwrites November 12, 2013 / 9:47 PM

      That’s the angle I was going for this week, Renada. Thanks for taking time to read it!

  18. Dhriti November 12, 2013 / 3:00 PM

    Hi Janna, sad but very true. Great story for veteran’s Day

  19. KymmInBarcelona November 12, 2013 / 4:20 PM

    You nailed Ruth, Janna. All that biblical suffering revisited over and over.

    • jannatwrites November 12, 2013 / 9:50 PM

      I’m glad you recognized the ‘Ruth’ aspect when you read it and that it fit well. Thanks for reading, Kymm!

  20. Valerie November 12, 2013 / 7:42 PM

    What a wonderful Veterans Day tribute, Janna. All that was sacrificed, by so many. We must remember. Well done!

    • jannatwrites November 12, 2013 / 9:52 PM

      Thanks, Valerie. Yes, we must remember. I liked your tribute to your uncle as well!

  21. Kalpana Solsi November 13, 2013 / 4:20 AM

    This woman is all left alone to mourn and remember her close one going to a place which she doubts exists and its really hard on her. very well-written story.

    • jannatwrites November 13, 2013 / 11:57 PM

      You ‘get’ her pain, Kalpana. Thanks so much for reading!

  22. joetwo November 13, 2013 / 9:39 AM

    How tragic! But very well written.

    • jannatwrites November 13, 2013 / 11:57 PM

      Thanks, Joe! I appreciate you taking time to read it!

  23. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) November 13, 2013 / 11:58 AM

    I wonder how you really manage to pull me in as a reader and taking me right into being Ruth.. so many details … a perfect heartbreaking story really

    • jannatwrites November 13, 2013 / 11:58 PM

      It is definitely a depressing story, Bjorn. I appreciate you reading it!

  24. TNT November 13, 2013 / 12:17 PM

    Another excellent piece. This was one where the characters really seemed to want to grow. I think you could create a longer writing from to develop this powerful line “She needed the world to remember those markers were more than stone; that someone cried for them.” Great stuff.

    • jannatwrites November 14, 2013 / 12:01 AM

      Thanks, TNT! I can see what you’re saying about feeling the opportunity for expansion. I actually had to cut (a lot) due to word count restrictions and I wondered if it made the last part feel a bit rushed.

  25. trifectawriting November 13, 2013 / 7:05 PM

    Heartbreaking and a reality for many, I’d think. So sad. Thanks for linking up.

  26. C.C. November 13, 2013 / 9:52 PM

    This is the kind of story that prods and moves the heart in such a way that it stays with a person, burrowing deep into the soul, long after the words are no longer visible on the page in front of us. Excellent post 🙂

    • jannatwrites November 14, 2013 / 12:02 AM

      Your comment is a huge compliment – thank you, C.C.! Writing something that stirs emotions and is memorable is always a goal 🙂

  27. atrm61 November 14, 2013 / 1:05 PM

    “They had followed their father’s footsteps all the way to the grave.” What a terrible path to follow:-( A powerful piece of writing my dear Janna-a great tribute to those who gave up their lives for one’s country-appropriate for Veteran’s day in the US!

    • jannatwrites November 18, 2013 / 12:52 AM

      Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts, Atreyee! I appreciate you taking time to read it!

      • atrm61 November 18, 2013 / 5:34 AM

        Thanks Janna:-)Did you not participate this weekend?Hope you read mine -would love to hear what you think of it;-)

        • jannatwrites November 18, 2013 / 7:12 AM

          No, I didn’t participate this weekend. I saw erotica and figured it wasn’t the challenge for me 🙂 Maybe next time!

        • atrm61 November 20, 2013 / 8:36 AM

          Ahh…am sure you would have done an excellent job had you ventured-it was my first too 😛

  28. Brian Benoit November 14, 2013 / 2:24 PM

    “She needed the world to remember those markers were more than stone; that someone cried for them.” Incredible! A really well told story Janna. I enjoyed every word.

    • jannatwrites November 18, 2013 / 12:53 AM

      Thanks so much, Brian! I’m glad you enjoyed reading the story 🙂

  29. margitsage November 14, 2013 / 6:44 PM

    Well-written, and terribly sad.

    • jannatwrites November 18, 2013 / 12:53 AM

      It’s not a pain I would want to endure. Thanks for reading, Margitsage!

  30. pattisj November 14, 2013 / 11:42 PM

    How many wives/mothers know this all too well. Very touching read.

    • jannatwrites November 18, 2013 / 12:55 AM

      Thanks for taking time to read it, Patti. Yes, this was a sad story that is, unfortunately, reality for some.

  31. Ivy (Mommy Dourest) November 15, 2013 / 5:53 AM

    I could really feel how she has given up. She might still be alive, but she has certainly stopped living. So sad.

    • jannatwrites November 18, 2013 / 12:56 AM

      Yes, you interpreted her state well, Ivy. In a sense, the cemetery visits gave her something to live for while she waited for death.

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