Causalties of War
She never expected him to ask when he was six years old: "Why don't I have a Daddy?" The question was in fact so unexpected that she turned to look at him, one hand on the doorframe. He sat up in bed, the room almost completely dark like the night sky.
"Why don't I have a Daddy?" he repeated, "Other kids have Daddy's but I don't."
Walking back across the room, she sat down on the edge of his bed and placed both hands in her lap. "You did have a Daddy," she said after a moment, "But he died."
"What's died Mommy?"
While she had been expecting the question, it still hurt her to have to answer it. She could still remember getting the letter that her husband was dead, just after she'd been planning on writing him about the baby.
"Dying is when you leave this world," she said to her son, "Your body is still here but your sould is in a different place, a better place."
He seemed to ponder that for a moment. "How'd Daddy die?"
Once again, she felt the need to explain, he would have found out about it sooner or later. "There was a great war, a war that promised peace that the whole world took part in. Daddy went off to fight in the war and one of the bad guys killed Daddy."
His face softened and he let out a small, oh, before taking his mother's hand in one of his little ones. "I'll never do what Daddy did Mommy. I'll never die."
"Why don't you get some rest?" she said, kissing his forehead and giving him a small smile. He nodded and laid back down as she turned and left the room, closing the door behind her.
What a frightening thought it was to her when he came home on day, dressed in a military uniform. She stood in the doorway, her mouth slightly open as she looked at her son. He'd grown from the little boy he had been into a handsome young man and the fear she had for him seemed to surface. She'd been afriad that such a day was coming.
"What are you doing?" she asked him, stepping aside to allow him into the house.
He shook his head. "I'm just stopping by, I've got to go to the train station in half an hour. I've joined the army, just like my father only this is the second world war, and not the first."
"Why?" The world came out only as a whisper as she stared at his neat and tidy uniform. "Why are you doing this to me?"
"I'll come home Mom, I promise," he told her, "And I'll write every day."
He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and walked down the pathway, giving her a merry wave as he left. She could only watch him until he vanished from her sight.
The war raged on for a few devastating years and for some time the letters kept coming. They weren't very long but still she charished them with all her heart. But then, there came a time when the letters stopped coming and another letter arrived in its place. She didn't even have to open it to feel sure of what it said and she fell to her knees and sobbed.
She didn't think about anything, didn't open the letter as if she could deny what she believed to be true. Her mind couldn't bear to lose another person to war and she went to her room and took out her husbands old pistol. When her husband had died, she had lived for her son, but no longer could she see the light in the world.
With the letter still unopened, she pulled the trigger and was dead in an instant, leaving she believed, not a soul in the world who would noticed her passing.
It was not much later that her son stepped through the door, expecting his mother to greet him. He knew that he hadn't written for a while. There hadn't been much time for him to sit down along, and then he had been captured.
The house seemed too quiet as he picked up the letter from the table and opened it. Like he had expected, it was a letter declaring him missing, not even the arm knew that he had escaped. He assumed that his mother was frantic with worry and he called out her name softly, heading for the stairs.
It was then that he found her and he crossed the room in a few rapid strides. But when he saw the wound, he knew that it was too late. Taking her cold hand, a single tear ran down his face. "Oh mother," he said, "I came home like I promised. Why didn't you wait for me?"