The Aftermath – Friday Fictioneers, July 2020

Copyright Na’ama Yehuda

The crops are ruined.

The marauders demolished all that grew above the surface, and now worms and insects continue their mission below.

Still every day he comes, grading the soil between leathery fingers, searching for something, anything to mark his labours.

Today it’s a potato – large and unsullied.  There’ll be no butter.  For a moment’s gratification the witless savages slaughtered the cow that would have provided milk, butter and cheese throughout the famine to come.

He tucks the potato carefully inside his jerkin.

Elfreda will be pleased; she may even smile.

But she’ll probably never speak again.


I saw autumn, and thought of harvest.  We harvested the first of our early potatoes this week – small, perfectly formed and practically flavour-less. 😦   Our small, perfectly formed hostess (see what I did there?) Rochelle leads the Friday Fictioneers out on this first day of the month.  Thank you, Rochelle.


About Sandra

I used to cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and wrote fiction and poetry. Now I live on the beautiful Dorset coast, enjoying the luxury of being able to have a cat, cultivating an extensive garden and getting involved in the community. I still write fiction, but only when the spirit moves me - which isn't as often as before. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
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57 Responses to The Aftermath – Friday Fictioneers, July 2020

  1. neilmacdon says:

    I loved “grading the soil between leathery fingers”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ceayr says:

    Fabulous as ever, with nailer of a last line.
    Love your comment about our hostess, even if you don’t mention her flavour…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Sandra,

    Love where you went with the prompt. Such desperation in 100 words.



    Moi? Perfectly formed? 😉


  4. Iain Kelly says:

    I hope your own potato crop isn’t a portent of this famine to come!


  5. Tannille says:

    I can only imagine how dire and terrifying it would be to rely on failing crops.


  6. Such a sad story!


  7. Beautifully crafted story, Sandra. And what a last line.

    Susan A Eames at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos


  8. Beautifully told.


  9. Living in hope even though there’s very little.


  10. Dale says:

    I really enjoyed this, Sandra. The old hands that can go by feel rather than by instruments… old school. Sad state of affairs, though.


  11. granonine says:

    I’ve seen farmers do that–rubbing the soil between their fingers, smelling it, even tasting it. Brought some vivid pictures to mind.


  12. wmqcolby says:

    Fine wine flavor in this story, Sandra! Always superb. You know, I remember as a kid growing potatoes (well, my MOM grew them) and I had to go dig them in the heat during a drought! They all baked black in the ground. Its took me a long time to like potatoes again, we had so many of them! 😀 But, still, you can’t miss with the homegrown stuff. Hope the crop gets better for you.


  13. msjadeli says:

    So much said. So much not said. A wonderfully balanced dystopian tale.

    If your potatoes have no taste, I wonder if they still have calories 😉


  14. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Sandra,

    I like the way you got to your story via the picture. I cannot put words to it, but feel I know exactly what led you there.

    You write the way a good farmer can read the soil by hand. Experience, knowledge hard won and freely given to all who will spend some time looking outward from between the lines.

    Enjoy the days,



    Liked by 1 person

    • Sandra says:

      Thank you for your compliment, Doug. I’m missing your contributions to the ether. Hope all is well and under control once again. Take care.


      • dmmacilroy says:

        Hi Sandra,

        Well, yes. Under control? God only knows. We’ve had some ‘border’ bungles that boggle the mind but seem to have found a sort of equilibrium again. It feels to me to be akin to a mail sitting in a row boat in the middle of a lake, going nowhere because he needs both hands to bail the water from his leaky craft. The bucket he uses to get rid of the water covers a hole where water gets in while he’s bailing. Strange world. At least the boat is afloat and high in the water. Small miracles. Australian security guards feeling the need to practice social distancing in reverse have toasted that country’s good record and caused a re-lockdown of at least one city. As I’ve said before, humans make me pro-nuclear.

        I find I can only write when the muse strikes. I’ve learned that people mostly respond to good news and upbeat posts. I do love reading your stories. They are so head and shoulders above the herd. You are unique.

        Stay well and send a few of your muses to the antipodes. I’ll put them up for a night or two.




  15. Well and tastefully crafted, my friend!


  16. Wow. This is beautifully written.


  17. Liz Young says:

    Sorry to hear about your potatoes – try steaming them with a sprig of mint. My first carrots were delicious steamed.


  18. What a fabulous line is this _grading the soil between leathery fingers…A dark sad tale, too.


  19. draliman says:

    A chilling story of things perhaps to come… and the witless savages are going to wish they hadn’t destroyed all the crops and killed all the cows pretty soon.


  20. plaridel says:

    a portent of things to come and it doesn’t look good.


  21. doodletllc says:

    I love how through all of this, he still has hope and is trying…a light within the darkness…well done.


  22. Bill says:

    So few words to say so much. Well done.


  23. James McEwan says:

    I sensed his feeling of hope amongst the sadness and his love for Elfreda.


  24. Mike says:

    I do agree my early potatoes are lacking flavour. O well back to the writing.


  25. This line “Grading the soil between leathery fingers” created such a strong visual that I could see him holding the potato. Powerful story, Sandra. There’s so much pain yet a glimmer of hope. Bravo!


  26. ahtdoucette says:

    There is so much depth in this story. The descriptions make you feel it, like the very earth is wounded. Very well written.


  27. Beautifull written, Sandra, as always. His tireless farmer’s work ethic still serves him even in these tragic times.


  28. I really like the way you evoke a ravaged country, in contrast with the homely gardener, both so clearly.
    Last line is very powerful.


  29. Nobbinmaug says:

    I’m glad you explained your inspiration. The whole time I was reading, I was wonder where you saw crops and potatoes in that picture.

    I’ve thought about how much more one can get from a live cow or chicken than the gratification of the meat. Good story. Well told as always.


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