Friday, November 15, 2013

Home for Thanksgiving


He was tall, handsome, and broad-shouldered—a big guy with a gentle smile. He'd called a half-hour ago. Now he stood on my front stoop in the snow.
My heart aching, I opened the door to let him in. I vaguely remembered him from high school. He played on the football team with my husband.
They became best friends in Afghanistan.
It was the day before Thanksgiving, and this tall, handsome man—Noah Mitchell—was here to tell me what really happened to my husband eleven months ago on a lonely, sandy road in the moonlight seven thousand miles away.
After I hung up Noah's coat, he unwittingly sat in David's chair and tunneled his hand through is black, curly hair. While I sat across from him on the couch, each of us sipping a cup of coffee, he told me David's story in a steady, quite voice. Noah's eyes glistened with tears—mine, too. And my heart continued to ache. David, David—I miss you so. My tears fell.
 Finally Noah concluded with, "I just want you to know your husband was a good man. The best. A very brave man. He saved my life."
"Thank you." I wiped my eyes with a tissue, squared my shoulders, and tried to smile bravely, just like David would want me to. "But life goes on."
"That's the way I feel. I'm sure Dave would feel that way, too. He was a fun-loving, easy-going guy. He showed me your pictures. I was there once when you two Skyped."
Noah and I talked a bit about the holidays and how difficult it was for a person to get through them after losing a loved one. He said he was going back for a final tour in Afghanistan and was looking forward to being discharged from the Army next year.
 At the door, when he was ready to leave, he stopped, and fiddled with a button on his coat. "Would...would you mind if I wrote. You know...just to stay in touch?"
My heart lifted unexpectedly, and I felt a smile light my face. "Why, yes. Of course. I'd like that."
David and I had decided not to have kids until he was out of the Army. Then he wanted to become a fireman. My work as Web designer paid well enough, and my teaching computer classes three nights a week to the computer-challenged kept me busy.
I'd all but forgotten about Noah's asking if he could write me. But in February I got a letter from him. My heart skipped while I read it. He said he couldn't tell me what was going on in his world. His highlight of the month was showering and shaving last week. I wrote back and told him about my work and the snowy weather. Then a brilliant idea struck me: I sent him homemade cookies, bar soap, tooth paste and a tooth brush, shaving cream and razor blades. His next letter was an explosion of "Thank you, thank you, thank you..."
That's when I started writing weekly, though Noah had time to write only every other week or so. I learned that his parents were elderly and though healthy lived in an assisted living facility here in town. He had no one else. His letters also revealed that no one was waiting for him back home. I told him I wasn't dating.
Eventually, I began thinking of him more and more. Guilt struck me. Is this right? Is it okay to have feelings for you deceased husband's wartime buddy?
One night when was I was feeling totally confused, I mentioned the situation to my mom when she called on the phone. You know what she said to me? She said, "You're twenty-eight years old, Allison. Life last only a minute. Live it."
I was delighted when in September David asked if we could Skype. Even across those thousands of miles, when I first saw his face on the screen, my heart lurched, and I pressed my fingers to his face.
In late October we had another chance to Skype. He beamed when he looked into the screen. "I'm being discharged in November."
"Wonderful!"
"Is it possible to miss someone you've only met once?" he asked.
I looked directly into his brown eyes. "Yes. Very possible, I think."
Then he cocked his head and smiled at me sideways. "How about a Thanksgiving day date? I'll be home."
It was a question that totally startled me! I flushed. My pulse spiked. I gulped, and after I caught my breath I said. "I'd—love that."

Today's Thanksgiving Day. Turkey's in the oven at my house. My mom and dad have helped with the preparation. Any second now Noah and his folks will be here, all of us tremendously blessed on this day. Life goes on.

The End
Welcome to reality! Contemporary YA fiction with an impact. Don't wait! Visit: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=jon+ripslinger