This weeks fiction prompt for the Red Writing Hood was Music. Describing how a piece of music affects our character, in 400 words or fewer (The website says 400 words or less, but every time I read/type/write that, I hear my English major mother screaming “Fewer! It should be fewer!!!” in my ear.)
I almost didn’t make it with this one, but here it is, anyway:
Kieran stepped from the cool comfort of his mid-sized rental sedan and beads of sweat moistened his brow faster than you could say Celtic festival. He hated the heat and the sweat was an unwelcome reminder. Today, though, he ignored the heat, to get a taste of home and revel in his forgotten youth.
As he crossed through the rutted field of dry, matted straw, he absently touched his chest; his rough hand detecting the soft cotton fabric, but his mind’s eye seeing the McFlarity family crest circled in Celtic knot work tattooed on his lily-white flesh beneath. The closer he got to the festival gate, the louder the strains of stringed instruments became.
Passing through the festival booths and vendors, Kieran followed a direct trek straight to the center stage. As he drew closer his heart swelled along with the music. Memories of his youth in the hills of Ireland rushed into his thoughts, bringing a smile to his face as his feet tapped out a private jig, meant solely for his own enjoyment.
Kieran thought of the rolling hills on the edge of his village, Balbriggan. How he used to run on those hills with his brothers. And the water front at the edge of the Irish Sea as he watched his father and the men, boarding the fishing boats each day. Pa had always come home smelling of salt air and salmon, but his mother never seemed to mind; always happy just to have her husband safe and sound back at the family homestead.
As the music grew louder and the cymbals clanged together, Kieran flinched as his memories took a turn. When the war had finally come to Balbriggan there was barely time for planning. His parents would take the family away, to find a place of safety in the home of American cousins already living in New York City.
When suddenly the music softened, tears welled up in Kieran’s eyes as images of his last moments in Balbriggan flashed through his mind. His father, shot in the back, branded a traitor. His brothers dragged away by the soldiers and made to fight a war they could not understand, only to die pointlessly on the battlefield. And his poor, sainted mother, savagely beaten as she held the men at bay long enough for the fishing boat to set sail and carry Kieran away.