“Doc, send my uniform to my mom. She’ll fix ‘em for me,” once said, was all the breathe that young soldier had left in him.
Major Daniels honored that soldier’s last request. He and a sergeant removed the uniform in silence. They set the pants and top across chair backs to let the blood dry out. It would take some time to let that much of a soak be ready for sending to the soldier’s mother.
No one wanted to believe in war. So untouched as the country was by it for so long. Sure, soldiers came home from war all the time. Plenty of conflicts and fighting, over there. But in the streets and towns of America, no, who would have thought so?
But it happened anyway. While plucking at the rose petals of freedom, the Federals had finally grasped a thorn. Once orders were given to use armed drones on citizens within the States all hell broke loose.
There were minor militias in the field across the country for both sides. Federal forces were of course the better armed and trained, in the beginning anyway. Militia backup for the federals were nothing but untrained, undisciplined thugs from the streets, looking to set their wrath upon anyone who got in the way. More in it for the pillaging ‘pay-back’ as they had been told all their lives they were due than any sense of preserving the union or patriotism. Blood was the currency.
In the Rebel ranks, all walks of life were there. Young, old. Rich, poor. Men and women. Everyone who knew what was at stake turned out in some way or another. Still, they were outnumbered. A war against them, generations in the planning had been let loose. From private to general though among the Rebel ranks, all knew it was a fight of winner-takes-all. Knowing what was at stake steeled spines as well as heated blood with courage enough to stand against those lopsided odds.
Her son’s funeral was a quiet affair. So many of her family were supports of the Federals, sending hateful letters to the mourning mother of how glad they were that her boy was dead: He was so stupid for fighting. Another brainwashed extremist as far as they were concerned, good riddance.
Those who weren’t there that loved the boy were already gone to fight or dead. As for the rest of the people who had known that young soldier, they didn’t have the time to worry about what was going on or to come to his funeral. No matter what happened those people didn’t care one way or the other, indifferent to anything other than what was on TV. As far as those kinds of people were concerned their lives were static. Nothing ever changed or would. Blissful indifference.
She stood there with her husband. He stood holding her, solid as a rock. Only his eyes told of the pain and anger ravaging within. Together the soldier’s parents stood over him, even after the grave was filled in and the workers left.
In the morning her husband left with a kiss. Rifle slung over his shoulder and a bag in hand. For a moment he stood looking back at his wife, his home of so many years. At the flag hung from his porch. Meeting his wife’s eyes- husband and wife-father and mother- both knew exactly what had to be done and were set about doing it.
Several days later a paper wrapped package came to her in the mail. Letters full of hate still came but had become a trickle. To each of those kinds of letters received she sent notes in response, notes of forgiveness. She did not return to those senders back their hate, but love instead. No easy task. She let her faith guide her pen strokes.
Feeling the softness beneath the paper wrapping she knew what was wrapped inside. Over the last year she had gotten several like it. Her son would send back uniforms and other things that needed to be mended. Some things were hard to come by anymore so an old fashioned approach was needed. Needle and thread. Frugality.
It was not her son’s handwriting on the paper she stared at from her chair at the dining room table. With great care she opened her last package of her son. She took up the uniform and sought the places to be mended.
Her heart was hard yet her fingers did their work. Threading the needle. Stitch by stitch. Her sons dried blood stained the fabric where she closed up holes. Bullet holes. Such small things.
She pricked a finger while at the last hole. One that would have been near to her son’s heart. She pressed the fingertip into the shirts stain, mixing hers and his together.
Laying out the clothes across her bed she went in to take a shower. There with the water in her face she cried aloud. Letter the spray wash away her tears as fast as they came. All that was held back against her heart she let free.
In the morning she stepped down her porch and walked to her car. She turned to look back, standing for a moment. She looked at the home she had lived for so many years. At the flag hanging from her porch. To the window upstairs that had been her son’s bedroom. A rifle slung over her shoulder and a uniform stained crimson in places scarred by careful stitches. She knew what needed to be done, and set about doing it.
Tom is an erratic contributor to CDN. Former U.S. Army Signal Corps soldier, outspoken future Re-Education Camp intern #7-2521, world traveler, combat veteran and Author of the new books Lone Wolf, Sucker Punched, dystopian near future America novels, and One Tough Truck (a War Story) available at Amazon.com.