The Shelter Half


The canvas smelled of mothballs and faintly of old fungi.  Time yellowed the cloth and made some of the threads brittle.  The buttons threatened to fall off their fragile threads. He unfolded the cloth and saw the old twine and stake, still dirty from when he’d used it.

After placing his own shelter half down on the table, he looked at a second half he’d carried – against regulations – through the muck and rains in Northern Virginia.

Brown spotted this yellow canvas, and holes had erupted where it’d got the bloodiest.  His brother’s canvas had failed to stanch the wounds.


This week, I chose to work with Charli Mills’s weekly prompt – Yellow Tent.  Her weekly story took a dark yet hopeful turn this time, and I hoped to accentuate the soldierly feel by creating this story.  I’m also exploring my Southern roots this month, and here I use the Civil War as the backdrop.

The image is of Brandy Station from the Library of Congress. 

5 thoughts on “The Shelter Half

  1. Charli Mills says:

    Great use of a tent to explore a soldierly experience. History comes alive when we can see our own roots in past events. The character of Cobb McCanles I often write about is from my family history. His wife, Mary Green, had seven brothers in the Confederacy, yet her husband’s family were Unionists from NC/TN. The two families fought against each other during the Civil War. Have fun researching and writing! Be sure to put this in the form, too. I’d love to publish it in the collection!

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      Drat – I forgot about the form! I think it’s too late now…

      If the family you write about was from NC/TN, they were probably mountain folk. Appalachian people were much more divided over who to fight for, often because they had no stake in any if it (you probably already knew). I have a novel odea that plays on the idea that the mountaineers wanted to be uninvolved; we’ll see if that ever gets written.

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