My tenth Button Flash evolved in an interesting way. The reader who sent it in told me that it is a brass button from a Reichs railroad uniform right before Nazi Germany. I’ve been holding it a while, waiting for the right inspiration because I know it’s a special button. On Ash Wednesday it occurred to me to weave the button into a piece about Lent. After that, the story pretty much wrote itself as a mood piece suggesting impending disaster. And I was stoked to find out that Ash Wednesday in 1930 was on the same date as Ash Wednesday this year–March 5. And, if that’s not enough, there’s hints of T.S. Eliot’s poem Ash Wednesday 1930.
Literary nerds, rejoice!
So here it is, Button Flash 10, 250 words written in one hour, all about a reader’s button. Thanks, Barbara B, for the historic button!
Lukas polished the buttons on his Reichs railroad uniform. He usually enjoyed performing this ritual, but lately it made him uneasy.
He heard the distant whistle of an engine heading for the station. It was a sound that used to bring him a sweet mixture of excitement and clarity, but now it made him anxious.
Something was wrong, but he didn’t know what.
Ash Wednesday had been last week, but he hadn’t gone. He felt it was discouraged although he didn’t know why. And now Lent was here with all its muddled irony—the denial and fasting even as Earth rejoiced. Soon the fruit trees would begin blossoming. Soon the grass would turn green. Soon the birds’ dawn chorus would wake him well before his alarm blared in the dark.
Change was coming—that was certain—and in the past this would have made Lukas happy. New things were on the horizon, new possibilities, new trains going new places.
But now the change carried an echo of rumbling, like the sound of an engine not quite in balance, a foreboding sense of future derailment. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but coming. It was a sound Lukas had learned to hear even when the mechanics did not, his unnatural ability.
Lent. Even though he’d missed Ash Wednesday, Lent had come. Good Friday would come, too, before Easter could arrive.
Lukas kept polishing his buttons.
Without warning, he suddenly knew: a day was coming when instead he’d be cutting them off.
Do you have a button with a story waiting to be told? Email an image of it to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do the rest. Click here for details and for more button stories, don’t forget to check out my book, The Button Collector.