War at Heart

March 7, 2008
By Mark Brooks, Auburn, NY

Travis gripping the note tightly turned around toward his wife. “Honey, What’s the matter? What happened? Is everything okay?” said his wife. Travis unable to look his wife in the eyes told her, “I’ve been drafted to go to Vietnam.

Mindy, holding her chest with her hands took a deep breath, ran to Travis. “You can’t go…You just can’t! You have a family! You have a daughter, who needs her father! You got a responsibility…”

Travis interrupting, “ I have a responsibility for my country.” He said. “ A duty I must attend to. This country has done so much for you, Madison and I. Now it is my turn to pay them back. I promise you though, I promise you, I will come back.”

Mindy, falling into a state of shock couldn’t s speak. Finally, after a few minutes of pause, she managed to mumble holding Travis, “ When do you leave again?”

Travis answered, “September 21.” With the wipe of her face, Mindy looked up to Travis and said, “That is tomorrow.”

The following morning Travis, Mindy, and their eight-old-year old daughter Madison, all awaited the bus at Quick Café. Te clouds covered the sky that morning. As Mindy looked around she saw nothing but wives, girlfriends, and children crying. Mindy, trying to be strong, held Travis tightly till the bus arrived. “ALRIGHT everyone get aboard NOW!” said the drill instructor.

As Travis and Mindy’s hands distanced from one another Madison ran up to her father pulling his pants with a slight tug. “Daddy, Daddy! Wait! Wait! Here take this Daddy please take this. Take my Mickey Mouse; it will help you sleep at night being away from home.”

“Honey, I can’t…”

Madison interrupting, “No please Daddy take it, I am not asking, I’m telling you.”

“Okay, I’ll keep it close to my…”

“Get on the bus NOW! We have no time for baby talk. Get on the god damn bus NOW! We have no time to play stuffed animals. You got a country to honor dirt bag!”

As the bus drove away Travis looked back to see a sight of a long goodbyes. He would always remember that circular china doll face standing next to her mother-waving goodbye. As months went by Madison never gave up faith that her father would come home soon. For nights she would awake to a soft cry from down the hallway. Every night following her father’s goodbye; she would wait in her room all night for a car to come down the softly tinted road. Every night after Madison’s bedtime she would grab her Mickey Mouse flashlight; pull out a shoe box from under her bed, and open it. Inside the box was a photograph of her father holding her on her second birthday. As she took them out of the box with grace and looked at the picture; she would walk to her rocking chair. In her chair Madison would rock herself back and forth and repeat to herself holding her priceless photo, “ Any night now, any night.” And would smile holding the photograph next to her heart.

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