Rainbow snippet – Home Fires Burning

A suitably sombre snippet for today, from Home Fires Burning.

“Good God, no. If it wasn’t for this,” Paul tapped his gammy leg, “I’d have to find some other way to avoid it. I’d drive ambulances, or crack codes, run messages night and day if I had to. I couldn’t go and fight.” The sea-green eyes looked straight into Nicholas’s deep grey ones, hiding nothing, baring Paul’s very soul.
“Why?” Relieved that their friendship hadn’t fallen at the first hurdle of his clumsy questioning, shocked at his friend’s uncharacteristic candour, Nicholas rushed in again.
“I couldn’t shoot another man, or bayonet him.” Paul’s face, normally ruddy from fresh air and exercise, had turned as pale as the hawthorn blossom they’d collected as boys. He ran his fingers through his fine, dark hair.
Nicholas tried to keep his eyes from admiring those long slender hands. Hands he’d seen wring the neck of a critically injured bird caught in the raspberry netting. Hands which could knock out, behead and gut a trout in thirty seconds. Hands which had tipped blossom into his, the gentle brush of fingers on palm remaining in Nicholas’s mind long after the flowers had faded and lost their odour. “I see. I think I understand.” He didn’t, but he wouldn’t judge out of ignorance or misapprehension. If Paul had his reasons, that was good enough.
“Do you? Then you see more than I do.” A sad smile crossed Paul’s face, like a cloud over the sun. They stood a while in silence, watching a kestrel quartering the field the other side of the beeches, both wary of words which could build a wall between them.

Find more at the Rainbow snippet group.

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