The Call

August 9, 2011
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The bright summer sun shown down from the blue, an unblinking eye set in an azure face
It heated the air and scorched the grass brown, baked the ground until cracks shown in the dusty dirt
A young mother played with her children outside
The only ones willing to venture into the dry wasteland that was their backyard

She pushed her boys high in the air, her arms switching between two swiftly moving swings
The children laughed crazily as their feet swung up to kick the sky
Her baby girl cooed soft as a dove as she lay on the quilt strewn over the sharp grass

The boys giggled as their legs flailed loosely in the air like overcooked spaghetti,
Their ever moving forms casting shadows over the dead lawn
The younger boy yelled loudly as he made the comparison;
“Mommy, our Daddy pushes us higher.”

The young mother opened her mouth to answer,
But she was interrupted by the sharp trill of the phone coming from deep within the empty house
She scooped up her baby girl and hurriedly walked across the lawn, into the house
Leaving her boys without her

Inside the mother picked up the ringing phone,
Placing her baby inside the playpen
She stood by the window and stared at her sons, watching them run around in the dirt
She tentatively breathed into the phone and quietly said, “Hello”

The mother placed her hand to her mouth while closing her eyes, holding in tears and cries
As she heard the words she’d been dreading for months,
She grasped the side of the window, needing support
While an unknown voice murmured soft condolences into her ear

Outside the two boys were rolling in the grass, laughing and yelling happily
Pretending to be brave soldiers like their father
One of them noticed their mother at the window
Silent tears trailed down her cheeks

“It must be Daddy on the phone,” one said
“She only cries when he calls”

The two boys ran inside to their mother,
Who hung up the phone quickly as they opened the door
She was half choking on her tears as she listened to their complaints
They had wanted to talk to their Daddy

Moving in a haze of grief she turned on a movie to distract her children,
Then retreated upstairs to her lonely bedroom
She cried into her pillow for a long while, finally releasing the built up pain
Before washing her face and making her way downstairs

She was met on the staircase by her youngest son
Who quietly asked, “Mommy, when will Daddy be back?”
And the tears returned sharply to her stinging eyes because she didn’t know
How to tell him his Daddy wasn’t coming home

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