Readers, I hope you love this as much as I did. Amazing how 10 minutes of work by one writer can turn on the waterworks–as well as the legit appreciation–of one reader. Anyway, without further ado, I present to you Dennis P. McGeehan‘s contribution to our 12 Days of Fiction. Grab the tissues. Thank you, Dennis!
Eleven Pipers Piping
A young boy stood alone on the grass of the cemetery. He raised his Flute to his lips and began to play. He played a Hymn to honor those resting in their graves, his ancestors and strangers alike. Most of the graves were marked with military insignia and crosses and stars of their faith. His lone flute sent notes through the cold winter air, Amazing Grace how sweet the sound.
A teen appeared dressed in a torn uniform, a bandage on his head. He too raised a Flute and joined the boy in a tune. The boy did not know where he had come from but he was grateful for the company. The teen’s Pipe added to the boys, That saved a wretch like me.
A man in a kilt appeared with a Bagpipe in his grasp. Around his waist was a sword, he was dirty and sweat poured down his face and steam rose from his forehead. How strange thought the young boy, he was so hot on such a cold day. The Pipe played loud and clear, it notes echoing from the tombs nearby, I once was lost.
Three men marched out of the nearby woods. One wore an Army uniform, another a Navy and the third a Marine. They carried Fifes and the trill of their instruments lifted high above that of the Bagpipe and seasoned the Flutes. The Army Fifer hands were bleeding but he kept playing. The Navy Fifer’s uniform was water soaked and his face was ashen grey. His face and head were covered in oil. The Marine’s whole body was burned as if it had been on fire. His Fife now was on fire. The Navy’s Fife surfaced loud and clear joining the Army’s full hearted proclamation , But now am found.
Five others marched across the cemetery. One wore the turnout gear of a Fireman, another a Police Officer. A third was a Nurse her uniform stained with smoke and blood. A Priest marched with them, a Crucifix in his hands and his cassock bright red with blood from his neck and next to him a woman hobbled with great age and grief. They all carried Pan Flutes and joined their music to the others,Was blind but now I see.
The boy paused and when he ceased to play so did the others. He looked at the teen who had first joined him and asked, “Who are you and who are these Pipers?”
The teen replied, “I was the Piper when our Army fought on this ground in our fight for freedom against the King. The Scotsman is a member of the troops in the War of 1812, the three from the woods, the Soldier, the Sailor and the Marine all fought in World War 1 and the Fireman, Police Man, Nurse and Priest all gave their lives fighting in our war against the Terrorist today.
“But who is the old woman, surely she did not fight, she can barely walk.”
“She is everyone’s mother and grandmother who fought in every war with their prayers for their sons and their sons companions. Their prayers filled the heavens like our music filled the cold air of this hallowed ground.”
The cold winter evening came on and the light grew dim. The boy raised his Flute and began to play and one by one the souls departed,
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.