Thursday, April 10, 2008


The small town day was soggy in the endless rain. Men had wandered around aimlessly, pausing at times with their hands stuffed in front pockets, stooping at the ruffle-edged curtained window above the kitchen sink to peer out into the gloom, irritating the wife, wishing they could be outside adjusting throttles on their riding mowers. Or at least mixing fresh gas/oil combos at their work benches.

The soldier carefully descended the deep rubber steps off the bus, balancing his over-stuffed duffel bag swung on his back. The town looked smaller than he remembered from just a year ago. The bulging, uneven sidewalk in front of his mom and sister's house looked narrower. Nervous, he looked down at his boots, rocking them slowly to an fro in the puddle like a little boy with nothing else to do. He couldn't bring himself to go in the front door.

She was doing evening dishes at the kitchen sink in the rear of the house with her back to the door. She knew without turning or feeling the cool waft. She dropped the plate.
"My baby. Promise you won't leave again," burying her tears in his chest.
"I promise." He kissed her again.
"It's good to have you home," she said over and over.

About an hour before sunset the sun broke through the clouds and threw long shadows. A few cars began straddling the center line or weaved as unprepared drivers reached to the glove compartment for relief from the glare. If you were standing on the corner observing you'd of thought every driver was answering their cellphones at the same time. Men dropped the evening paper beside their favorite chairs, struggled to their feet and went to their front windows. It looked like a whole new day out. Now, hands went in the back pocket and they rocked expectantly on the balls of their feet.

He was asleep already as his little sister delicately pulled the tattered blue and white diamond afghan up under his chin. She tiptoed to her room and flipped through the blank pages of the black leathered diary he had 'waa-laa'ed! out of his duffel bag like a magic trick. Out on the empty wooden swing rocking in a fresh-chilled breeze on the back porch, clutching her rose-colored sweater close to her neck, she considered the first entry in those last moments before sunset. And she would read those first three pages out loud, slowly, to him, nodding approvingly, in the morning as the steam was still spinning upwards from his tall stack of wheats.


Blogger Blog Princess said...

I just checked your blog before retiring to bed. What a wonderful goodnight story. You really are a wonderful wordsmith Phil. Thank you and good night!

4/11/2008 12:12 AM  
Blogger the drifter said...

Glad you liked it, bp.
Thanks! :)

I suppose that's as close to an anti-war vignette I'll ever write.

4/12/2008 9:18 AM  

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