Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Porch Swing

photo: theclassycottage.com

Another month is about to close. This means it is time for me to try my brain at a short story.  This is  month five of the Write and Link challenge sponsored by Natalia at In the Writers Closet.  Natalia provides a phrase, and the challenge is to work it into a short story.  This months phrase is "as leaves turned yellow."  I hope you like this.

The Porch Swing

Alice closed her eyes for a few moments, letting the early fall cool breeze wisp past her face and kiss her cheeks.  She opened her eyes slowly, taking in the surrounding hues as leaves turned yellow, leaving the remnants of summer behind. She thought about the news report, and wondered again why if she read headlines back in May saying "The War Has Ended in Europe", why Charlie was still not home on October 10? Still his last letter said any day now, so each afternoon, after all her chores were done, all her errands complete, and before she had to get ready to take her shift milking the cows, she sat on her parents porch swing, waiting and listening for the familiar tune, "I'll Be Seeing You " that Charlie used to hum when he would wander over from his parents farm to spend an afternoon with her.

 Charlie knew he was going to enlist as soon as he turned eighteen.  He turned 18 in  July, 1943, Alice having reached the milestone eight months earlier. When they were kids, she always tried to boss him around because she was older and knew more than he did.  As they grew out of childhood, she started to feel a little awkward being older than him most of the school year, particularly when they became a real couple.They were to be married when Charlie got home. Their engagement was going on two years now; still before he left, and in their letters, they planned.They were going to have four or five children and continue to work on one of the family farms, either Alice's parents or his own. At 18, Alice could already see her children, and even her children's children. She pictured a fair headed grandson being named after Charlie.

Charlie's older brother by two years Vince, drove him to the recruiters office the afternoon of his birthday. Vince was left home from the war because of a bad hip, broken when they were kids and the tire swing over the swimming spot gave way and he crashed down over a log. That evening, Charlie proposed on the same swing Alice sat upon now. He was soon off to basic training, and within six months, he was sent to England, and then to where, Alice never really knew. Letters were spotty and then they would come in batches. Charlie, while not formerly trained, was an excellent marksman, skills learned hunting with his grandfather, father, and brother. This meant he was moved more frequently, and was not always in the same unit. When the letters did come, Charlie wrote about his fellow soldiers. He wrote about unfamiliar countryside, and unfamiliar languages. He told Alice that he would like to visit these places again someday, when the world was at peace again. Some of his letters were melancholy, almost asking the question, would there ever be peace again.

Alice hadn't realized she had fallen asleep during this latest think. A lifetime of dreams and a future with Charlie was in her head. She saw them saying their vows at the little white Lutheran church in town. She saw herself bringing a lunch box out to the field as Charlie took a break from plowing the fields, getting the land ready for planting. She saw her own children playing, and swinging on the same tire as their uncle, but with a new stronger rope, and landing in the cool water. She could see her life behind her closed lids, and smiled a dreamers smile.

When she heard the familiar tune, she was still in the wonderful dream.  "Charlie," she thought, "you're home."  Then she felt the rugged hand on her own delicate one, and slowly awoke, knowing it was not a dream. She looked up at the strapping young man, taller and darker than she remembered. She looked down at her own hand, looking frail and pale instead of strong and young. Yes, now she remembered. Charlie," she said out loud, "you've come home!" And with a laugh, the young man, said, "Yes grandma.  I'm home!"


2 comments:

  1. What a wonderful, wonderful story, Sam! I really loved it and will be reading it again. Very tender, loving, a little bittersweet, but with a promise of happiness... and such an unexpected twist at the end! Bravo my friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I'm a fan of nostalgia so have been thinking about how to tie the yelliw leaves to a porch swing for weeks. I'm glad you think it works.

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