While we were eating breakfast, the letter was delivered. Its packaging looked intimidating with an official government seal. The postman seemed to be standing nearby at parade rest as my dad sternly signed for it. I lingered behind him, beneath the stairway, trying to be as invisible as I’d managed to become during those last several weeks. I heard my mom drop something in the kitchen behind me as it clattered to the floor, breaking my barrier of silence. Dropping and losing things was all she did anymore, whenever she wasn’t crying. I had been unofficially assigned as her sitter and finder and keeper of all items. I wished I could find her happiness again.
A few weeks later, there we were, standing in the middle of some barracks after sitting through a series of exhausting ceremonies and meeting with some of the surviving soldiers. I held my brother’s flag, hugging it close to my body, as my mother sat on the cold floor weeping over a foot locker with our last name etched upon it. My father never spoke, but I could tell he was taking it all in.
Carefully, she laid out items, as if cataloging them for Brad, as if he was going to need them again. I, on the other hand, began bagging them up to either give them to his buddies or throw them out. Among the disposables were flip flops, an LED light, insect repellent, hair gel, vitamins, trail mix, an empty container of sunscreen, and…I stopped paying attention. Wait, a digital camera. I stuck that in my own bag for later. Good thing too. Not sure Mom and Dad could’ve handled some of those photos.
Life’s a funny thing. Up until that year, I always thought I’d end up being an elementary school teacher or something like that. Here I am, though, standing at parade rest. Mom just dropped a wad of tissues out of her purse. She’s crying. Dad’s looking across the field at me, sternly, but his eyes say it all. His heart is full of purple pride. I guess Brad’s got the best seat in the house for my ceremony today. Silently, nearly invisibly, I glance up and toss him a quiet grin and salute.
Brother of my flesh,
from my heart, you’re never far.
With this, I battle.
© 2013 jody love
Wow, there’s a lot going on at the Speakeasy this week. As usual, there’s a photo prompt which you see worked into the story above. Also, as usual, there’s a primer sentence prompt: “While we were eating breakfast, the letter was delivered.”
Sentence provided by speakeasy #103 winner Deana Burson.
But wait! There’s more! (This is beginning to feel like an info-mercial, isn’t it?!) As part of NaPoWriMo, I’ve thrown in a poem (a haiku, to be specific) at the end. And then…
“In celebration of the first two years of yeah write success, we’re introducing a theme. This week, your story or poem should focus on the past. Past life, the past five minutes, time travel to the past, yesterday, the thing you wish you could go back and change, the thing you wish you could go back and re-live over and over, whatever “the past” means to you. This, with the photo prompt and sentence Deana wrote for you to use anywhere in your post, should be enough to get your fingers flying across your keyboard.”
My contribution this week is a work of fiction. However, I wrote it to honor those true brave men and women who have served our country freely in both past and present, aware of their continued influences upon all of our futures.
“Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.”
― Douglas MacArthur