In honor of a few people I love and admire
The farm boy tuned out the Frenchman talking to his company. He was more interested in seeing where he was. He had never set foot outside Ohio, but he knew this place. He knew it better than he was willing to admit. His father had left through the same port that he was entering now. His father had become a man by leaving, but he was still a boy; a boy who woke up each morning to milk the cows…and there were no cows in the infantry.
He dared not speak, tell a soul what he was thinking when he saw the words: Le Havre. The other boys had looked at him funny when they heard his last name. They still treated him with an air of suspicion. They were wrong, of course. So very wrong. But, what would they do if they knew Alsatian soil could have been his home?
But it wasn’t his home. He knew that too. He owed France nothing. He belonged to France even less than he belonged to Ohio.
Ohio. He never thought he’d miss Ohio.
He thought of home and all the deferments piled up on the kitchen table: only son. He knew it wouldn’t keep him out forever. Not as the list of names in the Times and the Reporter continued to grow. And now here he was.
The Frenchman was babbling on still…and must have seen something in his eyes. “Where you from, son?” He asked, sounding far too much like the farm boy’s own father.
“Strasburg,” he said, not thinking.
The Frenchman lowered his eyes and touched the farm boy’s shoulder.
The blinking light almost looked like a star as it went overhead.The other men had cowered below deck, but not him. He wanted to see it. He had to see it.
“What if the Commies have bombs on it?” they had all asked.
He knew it couldn’t hurt him. He was strong. He was brave. He had managed to survive this far. And besides, the satellite was something bigger than what they were doing.
Taking a deep breath of the salty air, he pressed against the rail and watched the reflection of the stars out in the black water. He wondered vaguely what it would be like to escape to space. Escaping to sea hadn’t been enough. And yet…
At home there was his wife
and a baby girl.
He wasn’t running from them. He’d just forgotten how not to run. He’d try to forget for a little while longer as Sputnik raced across the sky.
She didn’t know why she wore bright red lipstick. It clashed with everything about her complexion. But she was here to do something and it seemed to make them happy. Happy was really all she could give most of them at this point.
The last man she had seen had lost half his face in a mortar blast. He hadn’t even known it. He’d just looked at her…like she was some kind of angel. But she was mortal. And her brother was out there. And the men she loved. Someone loved that man too.
The least she could give was red lipstick.
She carefully closed the door behind the doctors as they rushed in. They told her nursing would bring fatigue, but she had never imagined fatigue could be like this.