|Woe & Wonderment
Author: MeredithGreeneWriter PM
Megan Tembler's had cancer as long as she can remember. When her parents die, her only living relative is her grandfather Ron, a curt retired Marine. Unable to continue medical treatments, Megan settles in to greet Death. But Ron steps out of his comfort zone to help, placing in her hands a reason to continue on: his '42 Martin guitar. Formerly Notes of Life.Rated: Fiction T - English - Family - Chapters: 14 - Words: 78,072 - Reviews: 49 - Favs: 11 - Follows: 13 - Updated: 03-20-13 - Published: 05-29-12 - id: 3027117
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Woe & Wonderment
a novel by Meredith Greene
(Reading enjoyment note: this chapter is especially enjoyable listening to
"Out Of It All" by Helen Jane Long. Medium volume; set on 'repeat.')
"Mr. Tembler? Are you there?"
The woman's voice-coming through the phone receiver-crackled, slightly. Ron Tembler twisted the phone cord a little to one side and the crackling stopped. He cleared his throat.
"I heard you," he replied, gruffly. "My connection's bad."
"I see," the woman told him. "I'm sorry to have to bother you, but we need someone to come pick up your granddaughter, Megan... today."
Ron's eyes narrowed. Turning his head a little, the aging veteran glanced at the sideboard table, some ten feet away from his recliner. Amid the many framed photographs of various soldiers-in group shots-stood one picture of his son, Michael and his foreign wife, holding their new little baby, Megan. The picture had come in the mail over a decade ago.
"Whaddya mean I need to pick up my granddaughter?" he hazarded. "Where's her parents? How did you get this number, anyway?"
There was a pause.
"Sir, you are listed as Megan's next of kin." The voice seemed gentler now. "Her parents, unfortunately, were killed in a car accident... just a few hours ago." The wrinkles of suspicion at the corners of Ron's eyes relaxed, immediately. His mouth went dry.
"Dead?" Ron did not recognize his own voice; it sounded weak. "Both of 'em?"
"I'm afraid so." The woman waited a moment before continuing to speak. "We can keep Megan here-at the hospital-for a few more hours, but she needs to be picked up by tonight." The sound of his granddaughter's name seemed to shake Ron out of his stupor.
"Doesn't she need to stay there... for her treatments an' such?" he asked, clearing his throat sharply.
"You haven't been in touch with Megan's father and mother lately, have you?" the woman asked. Ron snorted.
"What's it to you?" he returned, sitting forward in the recliner.
"I don't mean to sound impertinent, sir, but... Megan was discharged from the oncology wing six months ago. She's been at home, with her parents since. My sister worked in Oncology and knew Mr. and Mrs. Tembler very well."
"Didn't know that. Does that mean they cured her?"
"Uh, if you like... I can put you through to her oncologist, Doctor Lee. She may be able to tell you more than I can, sir. But, I do need to know if someone is going to come get Megan, or I'll have to call Child Services..."
"Don't do that!" Ron stood up, a bit too quickly. His back popped, sending twinges of pain through his right hip. Ron grimaced but walked over to his kitchen table, searching for a pen. "I'm her only family for god's sake... I take it you're in Denver. Which hospital is it?"
"St. Anthony. Just come to any service desk and they'll direct you to the Trauma Center waiting room."
Writing down the information, Ron looked up at the clock and tapped one forefinger on the table, his lips moving silently.
"I can get a flight today," he said. "I'm in California so it'll be about four hours. Tell her I'm... on my way."
"I'm so glad to hear it, sir!" the woman replied; relief resounded in her voice. "Who knows where Megan might have ended up in Child Services. She's such a little trooper." The woman sniffled on the other end of the line. Ron took in a long breath and let run slowly out.
"Lemme talk to that Doctor Lee, if you can do that," he said, sitting back down.
"I'll transfer you now, sir, to her cell phone. Good afternoon, Mr. Tembler... and thank you." Ron grunted in reply, listening for the 'on hold' music to begin.
The doctor answered after two rings.
"Miranda Lee," a crisp, professional voice announced. Ron cleared his throat.
"I'm Ron Tembler," he said, flatly. "Megan's grandfather." Ron thought he heard a slight catch of breath on the other end of the line.
"Oh, I just heard about her parents," the woman said. Ron detected enough sadness in her voice to warrant credibility. "They were on their way here, to pick up Megan. Thank God she wasn't in the car... did one of the nurses in Trauma contact you?"
"Yes. I didn't know that she wasn't getting treatments anymore. When I asked about it, they switched me to you."
"I see." The doctor let out a small sigh; Ron detected frustration in her voice. "As you may know Megan was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was two years old. She's been in a hospital ever since."
"I'm aware of that," Ron told her. "That's why her folks never brought her to visit. She was too weak to travel, I guess." He heard papers shuffling in the background on the other end of the line.
"The information in her file is quite outdated... are you still in the military... living on the marine base at camp Pendleton, in California?"
"I'm retired. I still live near the base, though, in Oceanside." Ron cleared his throat. He hated talking this much, especially on the phone. "Look, enough about me... why was Megan discharged from the oncology wing? Is she cured?" A short silence followed.
"I wish that were the reason, but no," the doctors replied, gently. "The simple answer is her parents ran out of money, and then out of options." Ron didn't have a reply to that. The doctor went on. "Their insurance was canceled about five years ago. Megan was in the middle of treatments so-like most people in their position—Michael and Fiona mortgaged their house to pay for her to continue receiving them. When that money ran out, they applied to every non-profit they could think of, and it worked, for awhile. Megan was at St. Jude's Research Hospital for three years. She's been through almost every possible type of treatment modern medicine can offer, but the cancer has not responded. She came back here for some final tests, and that's when we had to discharge her. I had her in again yesterday for the night, but it only confirmed that… well, there is simply no more that we can do for Megan, here."
Ron felt at a loss for words. He rubbed one hand over his forehead, brow drawn. Not a peep of any of this had filtered down in the annual "Happy Birthday" and "Merry Christmas" cards from his son's family. The little notes and drawings from Megan were present, but no pictures. Certainly no requests for help.
"I take it, from your silence, Mr. Tembler, that all this comes as a surprise to you. As you can imagine, I've come to care very much for both Megan as well as her parents, and I can assure you that we've done everything we can."
"What about one of them bone marrow transplants?" Ron asked. He remembered hearing something about such a treatment-vaguely-on the news. He couldn't remember when. "Has she had one of those?"
"No. Megan has a very rare blood type."
"How rare?" Ron asked. He knew his own type was the most common, type O. Not much help.
"Well, let's just say she'd have a better chance striking gold in Antarctica, than finding a match."
"I see." Ron blew out a short breath, through his nose. "Well, thank you for the info, doc. I've gotta go catch a plane to Colorado. I'll be there by tonight."
"I am very glad she had some family left, sir," the doctor replied. "I'll be keeping her company until you arrive."
"I'm sure she'll appreciate it. Goodbye."
Ron hung up the call. Dialing another number, he waited patiently as the phone rang.
"Ronnie?" came a friendly voice. "You old badger... how the hell are ya?"
"No time to chat, Johnny," Ron interrupted him. "Just got word that my boy's been killed, and his wife. Car accident."
"God... Ron! I'm so sorry..."
"Me too, but I need to go get my granddaughter, pronto. She's in Denver. Whaddya got going out today?"
"Well... uh, gimme a minute on that one." Ron tapped his foot on the linoleum floor in the silence that followed. "Ok... got a C-130 flyin' out of Munn in an hour."
"I can get there in time."
"Sure you can. I'll getcha a pass—we're sending some boots to LeJune... but they'll make a quick detour, if I ask them to."
"Brass has its merits."
"Yeah, but they won't mind if it's you. Might talk your ear off, though. The jockies'll get a kick out of holding everybody up at DEN just to deliver one retired war hero."
"I appreciate it, Johnny," Ron said. He let out a breath of relief. "You can scratch one off the list."
A chuckled sounded out, on the other end of the line.
"I should take off two. I'll get you a civi pass for your granddaughter too, and get you a ride back home."
"Scratch off two, then," Ron replied tersely. His fellow marine chuckled again.
"Still the same old badger. Well, what's her name?"
"Megan. She's almost..." Ron did a quick calculation in is head. "Twelve."
"Well, bring her by the house when you get settled in. My girls are near enough in age to keep her company."
"We'll see. Gotta go.. but, I... thanks, Johnny."
"Anytime. I'll let 'em know you're comin' at the East entrance."
Ron absently set the phone back on the receiver. The conversation with the doctor repeated in his mind as he packed a duffel bag, checked his wallet and showered. Tossing his bag in his truck Ron started the motor and backed out of his garage. Less than half an hour had gone by since he received the first phone call.
"MEGAN?" CAME a familiar voice. Huddled up in one corner of a waiting-room couch, a twelve-year-old girl in a pink hat turned towards the door. Doctor Lee stood in the doorway. She walked towards the girl at once, her arms open. Megan got up and wrapped her thin arms around the woman's waist with an unexpected fierceness. She buried her face in the clean, white coat and promptly broke out sobbing. Doctor Lee's face twisted with emotion. She caressed the girl's back in a motherly gesture, wincing at the feel of the prominent ribs beneath the girl's sweater.
"I'm so sorry Megan," Doctor Lee whispered. "Words fail to express just how much." The girl's hold on her relaxed, slightly. "I just spoke with your grandfather; did they tell you he's on his way?" The girl nodded. Doctor Lee softly patted her head; through the thin material of the pink bucket hat she could feel a small amount of Megan's hair had grown since she last saw her. "Have you eaten anything today?" she asked. The girl shook her head, her face still pressed into the white coat. "I know you don't want to, but the last thing your parents would have wanted is for you to give up now. You need your strength, Megan." Doctor Lee glanced up at the clock. "Will you come and eat lunch with me?"
Sniffling, the girl stepped back a little ways, drying her eyes with her sleeve cuffs. Megan's eyes shone out large in her thin face, and luminous with tears. Doctor Lee never ceased to be struck by their unusual hue—a bright silver-gray-like two pools of mercury on an ashen plate. No metallic coldness resided therein, however; Megan's eyes held warmth and life, constantly darting glances hither and yon, observing as much of her surroundings as humanly possible.
Taking the girl's thin, little hand, Doctor Lee opened the waiting room door again and led her out into the busy corridor. As they walked towards the cafeteria, Megan silently watched patients being transported up and down the corridor, some on gurneys, some in wheelchairs, a few accompanied by a nurse, rolling an IV stand along with them. The large cafeteria was packed with staffers, residents, relatives and friends of patients. Doctor Lee managed to secure a small table for them by the kitchen doors. The humid smell of cooking food rushed out the double doors every time a staffer emerged. Megan sat down without complaint.
"Do you want your usual?" Doctor Lee asked her. Megan looked up at her, nodding once.
"Thank you," she said, speaking for the first time in hours. The words were barely audible over the noise and chatter of the cafeteria, but the girl's trembling voice struck her friend clean to the heart. Doctor Lee gave her a faint smile before quickly turning away to the buffet line.
Late morning sunshine poured in the full-length windows across the room. Though the view was obscured by the many tables and people in between, Megan knew the view by heart.
"The garden courtyard," she whispered, staring down at the table; the clean plastic surface partially reflected her wan face. "Four Japanese maples, one in each corner, with ruby red leaves in the fall. Twelve benches surrounded by asters, blue, purple and red, edged with white Alyssum and blue Lobelia." Reciting the numbers and details seemed to help lift the anguish in her heart. Megan cleared her throat a little. "Four-hundred and fifty-six granite paving stones in the walkways. Four white birch trees in the center, around the gazebo. Sixty-four tulip plants, all white..."
The barest hint of a smile hovered over Megan's mouth. Her mother grew to be great friends with the elderly head of grounds-keeping, a man whom Megan had always referred to as "Mr. Timothy." The courtyard was his especial realm. He did not mind Megan following him around—when she felt able—asking him interminable, quiet questions about the flowers, the shrubs, the soil and watering plans. He'd even let her roam his sacred greenhouse, located out behind the storage building. The gazebo, however, was her mother's favorite place to sit and comfort her sick little girl. Megan's eyes glistened with moisture. In her mind she saw her lovely mother-with her long, auburn hair and vibrant blue eyes-snuggled up to her, reading her books until she'd fall asleep... her face caressed by the clean mountain breezes... her mother's soft accent replete in her ears.
Doctor Lee found her in tears. Megan's hands covered her small face, her frame hunched over the edge of the table. Setting down the trays, the lady doctor fetched a handful of paper napkins. Megan accepted these gratefully. She blew her nose while the doctor sat down and broke open the plastic packets of eating utensils.
"I won't tell you to stop crying," she said, kindly. "You go right ahead. It will get easier... I promise. If not, you can always blame tears on allergies." Doctor Lee smiled encouragingly at her charge, moving the girl's tray ever-so-slightly towards her.
Megan looked at the food miserably. She could almost hear her mother's voice now, warning her not to be ungrateful for food... or for good company.
"Thank you," was all Megan could say. The green plastic plate before her harbored a tiny amount of steamed brown rice and herbs, a bit of salad with a few dried cranberries in it, and a small piece of poached fish. Intertwined scents of lemon, parsley and olive oil floated up from the plate on wisps of steam. With a sigh Megan took up her fork. Doctor Lee watched her take a small bite. Satisfied, she began eating her own meal.
Chewing slowly, Megan glanced up at the doctor from under her lashes. The lady's normally chatty and cheerful demeanor seemed heavily subdued, something Megan found unsettling. No matter what things went wrong with her many treatments-or how ill she became-Doctor Lee was always there to smile and encourage right alongside her parents. This reserved sadness-hidden in a strained smile-she'd seen before, six months ago... the day the doctor had told her parents that there was nothing more they could do for her. She'd been armed, that day, with pamphlets for drugs trials in Sweden and Switzerland, but the doctor's dark eyes held an unspoken regret... and hopelessness. Megan's father had pursed his lips, an attempt to trap unkind words of anger inside. Her mother didn't break down crying until they'd reached home; she'd slipped into the shower fully dressed, weeping as her husband tried to console her. Megan ran over all the events in the months since in her mind as she ate in the hospital cafeteria, wondering how often her mother had wept in the shower during the last ten years.
"The Cancer Years," she murmured, unconsciously.
"What was that, dear?" Doctor Lee asked. Megan met her gaze over the trays, surprised at herself.
"My hair has grown," she said, quickly. "It's not brown, like I thought. Momma called it 'chestnut'. She said she had hair just like it... when she was my age."
Doctor Lee smiled-a real smile—one that appeared to have recovered some of its former warmth.
"I can't even begin to understand how exciting that must be, to finally know what color your hair is. To have lashes, too... yours have grown in so long. They curl, too I see. A lot of girls would love to have such pretty lashes."
"Maybe they should all go on chemo, then... so they can have long lashes, too." It was as much of a joke as Megan was capable of producing, at the moment. The doctor actually chuckled.
"Only a fraction of them have the strength to go though it," she said, gently spearing a tomato with her spork. "Even less, for ten years straight." She studied the girl's face as she chewed. Swallowing she wiped her mouth on a napkin. "If you don't mind me asking, how do you feel about going to live with your grandfather?"
At first Megan did not know how to answer.
"I don't know him very well," she said, at last. "I write him notes, for his birthday... and Christmas. He always sends back a signed card... with money in it." Megan set down her fork. Most of her food still sat on her plate. "I know that he and Daddy didn't get along... but I always thought he didn't visit because I'm... sick." Doctor Lee reached over and patted her hand.
"Maybe," she said. "Some folks fear what they don't understand... but your mother told me that it started between them long before you were born. Fiona wasn't American, you know. From your father's descriptions-your grandfather has redder blood than the forefathers and doesn't like foreigners. He's retired from the military; a former marine, or so I gather. That may explain the grudge. I suppose you can ask him yourself, but please... try to eat a little more. It will help."
Megan ruminated over the doctor's myriad jumble of facts—mixed with frank opinions—as she steered another forkful of food towards her mouth. She didn't even notice she was eating. The food itself tasted similar to all the other meals she'd ever eaten, for as long as she could remember: steamed rice, fish, a tiny bit of fruit-usually blueberries-or maybe a dish of red beans, all high in antioxidants... cancer-fighting things that hid themselves in the most blandest food on the planet. Unfortunately, these powerful cancer-fighters didn't like being seasoned with salt or spices, and heaven forbid they mix with dairy. Megan vaguely remembered eating ice-cream, when she was very very small. Food was reduced to its barest possible nutritive value in order to give the antioxidants the best chance to find and eliminate the terrible "free radicals" in one's system.
Oncology therapists in this hospital—and others-demanded that weekly pictures be drawn of the battle raging within cancer patients, by themselves. Most of the kids drew cancer as blobs or spiders, or whatever monster they most feared. Megan always drew her cancer as a grotesquely obese woman entrenched in an untidy couch, sitting in front of an equally large television set. The antioxidants—to her-were lean personal trainers with energetic expressions. Ceaselessly they tried to get the woman off the couch. Once in awhile they'd succeed in yanking the cable from the wall, and get the cancer to do a few arm exercises... or on a good day—leg lifts. Free Radicals were always around, however, pictured as neighbors bringing over piping hot casserole dishes, or people delivering pizza... even cable repairers or overly-helpful soda salesmen. Ever did the antioxidants try to wrestle the radicals out the door, sometimes with more violence than Megan thought necessary. On those days, she was too ill to get out of bed.
"He lives in California."
Doctor Lee looked up from her tray as Megan spoke. "That's a long ways away." The girl's expression struck her companion as strange-not only because of the silver-colored eyes set in their hollows-but for the various emotions that fluttered over the wan face under the pink brim of the her hat. The doctor perceived a keen homesickness. The girl hadn't even left the state, yet; Doctor Lee felt deep pity well up within her at the sight. All she could do was pat Megan's hand. It seemed—to Doctor Lee- like such a helpless gesture.
"He would not come if he didn't to take care of you," she told the girl. "It's better than being assigned to a foster family... complete strangers."
Swallowing her tears, Megan laid down her fork.
"I'm full," she whispered.
"You did great." The doctor fished in her pockets, eventually drawing out out a business card and a pen. Flipping it over, she wrote something on the back. "This is my personal email. I want you to stay in touch. Contact me about anything, really. I may not be able to get back to you right away, but I check it at least twice a day." She held the card out, her eyes once again seeking Megan's. The silver-gray circles gazed back at her; the forlorn look they carried seemed to fade, a little, as the girl's thin fingers grasped the edge of the card.
"Thank you." The phrase carried more weight to it than the simple pair of words could convey on their own.
"I'll send you some more poetry volumes when you get settled, ok?" Doctor Lee smiled at her patient, trying to scare up a bravery she did not feel. "Just email me your address." Megan nodded, looking across the cafeteria at the windows, again. Doctor Lee followed her gaze. "Do you want to sit outside?" The question was met with silence. "I'll sit with you," the doctor continued, gently. Blinking rapidly, Megan nodded. She carried her own tray to the sideboard and followed Doctor Lee through the milling people to the courtyard doors.
"RON TEMBLER, goin' to Munns."
As he spoke, Ron handed his ID through the open window. An MP—barely in his twenties-looked over the classic Ford truck with an appreciative gaze; its glossy black paint job shone in the morning sun. Ron cleared his throat impatiently. The marine consulted his clipboard. He looked way too young to be on gate duty, Ron thought. He kept this musing to himself. The MP's eyes grew as he found the name and attached pass.
"Lieutenant-Colonel Ronald Tembler?" The young man straightened his posture and saluted. "Sir!"
"Retired," Ron informed the MP, gruffly. "Can I go through... or what?"
"Sir! Here's your pass, sir!"
Ron's mouth twitched a little as he took the pass. He vaguely remembered feeling such nervousness in the presence of seasoned veterans, only long ago. As he drove through the gate he offered a slight nod to the saluting MP. Some minutes later, Ron turned down a familiar road-one he'd traveled many times-heading towards a particular airfield.
The pass got him into a secure lot set aside for officers' vehicles. Retrieving his bag, Ron locked his vehicle. One corner of his mouth hitched up as he heard the beep-BEEP of the alarm.
"Any marine worth his salt could have that bypassed in ten seconds," he thought, with a small measure of satisfaction. Ron hung the pass around his neck, but no one looked at it. Familiar faces looked at him with recognition, giving a nod of mutual respect or a brief clasp of the hand as he passed by. Hushed conversation—explanations to the uninitiated-followed in the veteran's wake.
A growing rumbling noise drew Ron around a large hangar. On the tarmac sat the huge C-130 cargo plane-crouching like a gigantic gray beast-it's four powerful engines making the very ground beneath Ron's feet vibrate. Trudging forward towards the aircraft, Ron searched for a particular figure, his piercing gray eyes briefly resting on each face. The prop wash—artificial wind generated by the aircraft's motors—could be felt strongly even dozens of yards from the plane.
The muted voice of his closest friend sounded out, barely discernible in the racket. Ron stopped, turning towards the greeting at once. A tall marine in his late fifties strode toward him, the fabric of his fatigues rippling in the displaced air.
"Johnny!" Shouting alone allowed any communication. Base commander Colonel John Williamson grinned at his guest.
"Was beginning to think you weren't gonna make it!" he yelled, pulling an envelope out of his pocket. "They leave in five! Here's Megan's civi pass, and info on the flight back in six days!" Ron took the envelope and nodded.
"Thank you!" he shot back.
"Don't confuse me with that shit! Get your ass inside!" The colonel clapped his friend on the shoulder, briefly. Ron stood ramrod straight and saluted his former commander, who returned the gesture.
Inside the yawing hatch of the C-130 several pairs of eyes watched the exchange with interest. The older grim-faced man-in civilian clothes-broke away from the base commander and strode up the ramp; his gait suggested frank familiarity with his surroundings. A few of the marines within exchanged glances, grinning a little.
"Lieutenant-Colonel Tembler?" a seasoned Lieutenant 'asked' above the racket. Ron nodded, not bothering to quip "retired" this time. The lieutenant pointed to the top of a nearby crate, well webbed to its moorings. Crates were squeezed together all up and down the cargo bay; a squad of marine sitting or lounging on the tops. "Make yourself comfortable, sir! We're gone!" Ron nodded in reply. He tossed up his bag and clambered on the crate with a speed that defied his years. Everything in thecargo bay vibrated with the movement of the props outside. Amid the distinct, whining buzz of hydraulics the hatch slowly closed; the outside light diminished into a line, and then disappeared. With the hatch closed the noise reduced down, slightly.
"As comfortable as you can, he means."
A nearby marine spoke to Ron from the next crate over. He appeared to be in his early thirties, with hooded brown eyes and unkempt hair-well past regulation length, Ron noted. Legs stretched out on the next crate, the man leaned back against his kit. He found the veteran's gray gaze upon his face. Each recognized the other-by mere inflections of the face-of having served in the face of danger, and death. The marine reached out his hand. "Ed Descher, LT." Ron took the hand and shook it, once.
"Ron Tembler, retired." The marine gave him a curious sort of half-grin.
"I've heard that name," he drawled. "Here and there." Ron recognized a distinctly southern accent; South Carolina, he guessed. He looked from one face to another, all down the cargo bay. The distinct patches of Marine Special Forces were discernible, even in the dim light afforded by the officially-sanctioned overhead fixtures. He shook his head, letting out an amused snort.
"The Old Man said he was sending boots to LeJune," he said aside to Descher. "Didn't mention then bein' Recon." The marine's eyebrows rose, slightly.
"I guess we'd be 'jus 'boots' to a Colonel," he remarked. Descher turned and relayed the information to the nearest marine, inciting no small amount of humor.
Outside, Ron felt the engines rev up to a higher plateau. The aircraft began to turn, trundling down the tarmac at an increasing rate. Ignoring the stares of his fellows, Ron leaned back against his bag. He folded his arms over his chest and adjusted his sunglasses to completely cover his eyes. Behind the dark lenses, however, he watched the marines around him... testing one of his favorite buried skills: reading lips.
"Some hot shit from way back," one marine said, across the bay. He sat on the edge of his crate, his boot-shod legs dangling over the side. "I'm talki'n f—king 'Nam, man. Guy's got more tours than Santa Claus."
"He's Old Guard, for sure," the dark-skinned marine next to him said, with a respectful nod.
"Chest candy like a waterfall," the first marine continued, glancing sideways at the still figure of the veteran. "Trained Recons 15 years 'fore he retired."
"He don't look right in civis," his fellow remarked, shaking his head. "Gonna drop him at DEN I heard. Damn! Mus' be friends with the Old Man..."
"If he is, then you'd best shut it, Ellis."
The conversation fell silent. Another marine had spoken, though Ron couldn't make him out fully; the top half of the man's face was covered by a hat and dark glasses. Ron suspected he was being watched right back, and just as skillfully. The other marines said no more. The C-130 reached its desired speed; the wheels left the tarmac. Slowly, the vibrations and rumbling leveled out to a more comfortable level.
Adjusting his seat Ron let out a long breath. He allowed his eyes to close, feeling surprisingly at ease. Sleep overtook the veteran, moving over him on soft, dark wings.
Thank you in advance for the reviews. I am glad only a few minutes has produced helpful feedback. - M. G.