On yesterday’s post, I asked what words come to mind when you see this image. Bryan Catherman of The Hopeless Writer blog stepped up and wrote a back story about it in the comments. I enjoyed it so much that I felt it deserved its own post.
She ran down the boulevard toward the coming busses, a yellow ribbon in her hair and a grin from ear to ear. At just nineteen, she had never known such a deep feeling of love before she met Sam, who was now returning from the war. As the two busses pulled near and the cheering crowed crammed forward, the women waved her little American flag from side to side.
She hadn’t received a letter from Sam in over a month. Mail was slow, but the word around the small town was not. Their boys were coming home.
Sam’s letters were so beautiful and she just knew he would propose marriage soon. They would start a family and seek after the American dream.
“What does he look like now?” she asked herself in anticipation. “Has he changed?”
Her Sam was hero, but so were all of the men stepping off the silver bus in their green uniforms. Some men rushed to women and kissed them over and over. Some were perfect strangers; others perfect lovers.
Other men got off the bus, picked up their duffle bag, and walked away from the crowd, alone. Other men looked war-torn; still others were clean and pressed. None of them were boys any longer.
Flag in hand, she waited impatiently. When the first bus emptied and pulled away, she stood up on her toes to look over the crowd. She still looked so young in her summer skirt and sneakers and ribbon tied in a neat bow in her hair. She couldn’t see her Sam.
The second silver bus drained of men, but Sam was still nowhere. The crowed thinned. Confusion lit upon the woman. She looked from side to side. How could she have missed him? Her arms dropped to her sides and she rested squarely back on her heals. The small American flag, still in her hand, now pointed downward.
A burley soldier with pins on his chest and rank on his hat approached her. “Are you Abigail Wells?” he asked.
“Yes, yes I am,” she replied.
“I regret to inform you that Private Sam Thompson was killed in action last month. On the 3rd to be specific. The battle was hard, but he fought valiantly. I couldn’t have had a better, braver private under my command.” He said it so matter-of-factly.
“What?” Abigail asked in shock. The officer executed an about face and walked to the next confused woman.
Her mouth dropped, and so did her little American flag. Discarded, abandon was the little flag, much like Abigail’s dreams. She stood in the moment. Abigail couldn’t believe. She wouldn’t let herself. But like the flag, now resting against the hard concrete reality, among the dying and dry leaves, Abigail Wells would never be the same again.