Soon, I will be able to smell the salt from our own shores. Soon, I’ll be breathing in Magnificence – air so pure and far from battledust, that my lungs may collapse in relief and with honour. Relief for service without death. Honour for the men that left us too early, wearing our flag and dying for our freedoms.
The boys on the Pennsylvania were gearing up for our return. All regulation garments and bedding for our sleeping quarters were commissioned for laundry; the head, the mess, and common walks were on a strict schedule for scrubbing and every White Glove was salivating at the thought of making one of us, do some kind of compensatory dirty job in return for our poor job.
I was busy checking reports to see that the I’s were dotted, as well as commander’s signature inked on the bottom line. I often found myself whistling while I worked to clear the documents from ole Shaggy’s desk. To say I was happy that the war was over, would be an understatement, because I was ecstatic to be returning to the wife I married, but had yet to love.
It was Sunday, and there shouldn’t have been a letter in the mailbox, but there was. It came straight from Washington, marked “Classified” and I did not know where the commander was. In the confusion of trying to find his itinerary for the day, I stumbled upon a note that I knew I shouldn’t see, but I couldn’t help But see it – the note read, PREPARE FOR COORDINATES 11°35′ N 165°23′E / 11.583°N 165.383°E / 11.583; 165.383; ARRIVE 20 AUGUST, ASSIST IN OPERATION CROSSROADS.
My heart stopped. All I could think of was Shannon. How can I tell her that I won’t be coming home? How can I tell my darling that the weapons we’ll be testing may cause my death? I wonder if she still has my grandfather’s pocket watch in the nightstand. I’d like to be buried with it.
-dld nov.18, 2010
for Icarus Flight to Perfection”s Writing Challenge