Bill Ryan was my eldest brother. He was a popular lad with a ready smile, always up for mischief. At twelve years of age, I looked up to him and adored him, as did my younger brother David and little George who was only three. Our universe was a tiny part of County Meath; our world a small farmstead handed down for generations. Mother worked hard and although she was strict, she was a loving and kind-hearted woman. My father, however, was a hard man. Often aloof, his stern gaze was enough to put the fear of God into you.
When Bill finally plucked up the courage to broach the subject of signing-up, he met with strong resistance. But he persevered. We must defeat the Hun, he said to them, his voice resonating with conviction. As David and I listened from behind the door, my heart sang. How brave he was! But father refused to listen – Bill was needed on the farm and that was the end of the nonsense. Mother pleaded with Bill as only a mother can. But in the end, he presented them with a fait accompli, arriving home one day in uniform.… The Telegram – a Short Story for Armistice Day