Perchance to Dream
As he quietly watched her sleep, her slow breathing was suddenly punctuated by a tiny, feminine snore, something that had always amused him. On the north wall was her computer desk, with its tiny blinking lights. He had often wondered why electronic manufacturers included so many colored lights, even when their equipment is off. Maybe they just liked lights.
It was the same computer she had used to communicate with him while he did his tour in Afghanistan. It had a video camera built into the monitor, and he had been thrilled to see her face and that of the children all the way from his base. Her parents bought it for her when they learned about it, and without her asking. She was always too proud to ask, but her brother had let them know. She treasured it like a fine piece of furniture, and she was now using it to write. She had sold two articles to magazines, and her new enthusiasm made him smile. She needed that sort of thing, and badly.
Her red-gold hair fanned out over the pillow, while a stray, curled lock lay on her damp forehead. She had always perspired slightly as she slept, a trait she thought unfeminine. But there was nothing unfeminine about his Mary Jo.
He rose and walked down the hall to check on the children. He entered Jimmy’s room first, and his son was wrapped around Snuggles, his ragged and heavily patched teddy bear. At seven, he was on the borderline of deciding when to give up Snuggles and move up a notch in boyhood. But that could wait for later; there was no rush.
On the dresser was a model of an F-15 Eagle, the fighter his father had flown in Afghanistan, complete with the correct numbers and his father’s name in tiny letters. He smiled at that. He had wondered why Mary Jo had wanted to know those little details.
Mary was curled up at the foot of the bed again, but she was warmly dressed in her fuzzy, pink pajamas with feet, so it didn’t really matter. She had her mother’s red-gold hair, but it was curly, like his own. Her tiny lips were slightly parted, and a thin line of drool ran down her cheek and pooled on the sheets. She would be starting school in the fall. Where did the time go?
He glanced at the kitchen clock. Time to go, so he walked back to the master bedroom and stood over Mary Jo, watching her for one more, long sweet moment. Then he bent over and brushed her forehead with his lips. “See you tonight, my love,“ he whispered. For a moment, he thought he saw a faint smile cross her lips, and then he turned, padded down the hall, and out the door.
He stood silently with the others, rigidly at attention for the morning raising of the colors. Johnson was on his left as always, and Davis stood silently to his right. They watched as the flag was raised to the top, and then lowered to half mast. The line saluted in perfect unison, as always, and then he felt himself passing through the green grass, sand and pebbles as he settled into the restful quiet of his military issue coffin.
“Tomorrow,’ he told himself, “will be another night.”