"He's Not Coming Home"

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


“Ma, he’s not coming back.”

Edward, Miriam’s only son, stood still and tall and tried to not see the tears forming in his mother’s eyes. She’d followed her son onto the train that morning, sitting rows behind eating a cold egg sandwich. Needing to tell him, ask him, one last time.

To bring his father home.

The briefcase grew heavy in Edward’s hand. He stole a glance up at the Grand Central clock and knew he wouldn’t make his nine o’clock meeting.

“Ma, he’s not coming back.”

Edward spoke again, this time with more force behind his words. A woman passing by them on clicking heels slowed her rush to stare in their direction.

“You don’t know that, Edward.” Miriam rubbed her arms as if to ward off a sudden chill. “No body. Just a telegram.” She pushed a crumpled envelope his way. It was hard-creased from spending too long inside a dress pocket, the texture mottled by years of tears.

Edward took the envelope from his mother. He glanced quickly at the address, blue ink fading but still legible. Written in the shaking hand of a survivor while in hospital. A man who could never unsee all he had witnessed that day.

Edward slid the envelope into the pocket of his overcoat, where it would stay until his mother asked for it back. And she would. Whether today or tomorrow or two weeks from now, she would remember. Soldiers weren’t the only ones who relived the heartache of war.

Edward withdrew a neatly-folded handkerchief from his suit pocket and placed it in his mother’s shaking hand. He waited while she dried her eyes, his meeting long since forgotten.

“Ma,” he called to her gently, barely heard over the thrum of the train station on a Monday morning. “How about you come with me to the office? Linda would love your help.”

Miriam pocketed the handkerchief and straightened her five-foot frame. “Your secretary still needs some training, does she?”

Her son drew in an easy breath.

 It was over. For now.

Miriam patted Edward’s arm, just below his shoulder.

“And after, we can have lunch at Woolworth’s. I just love their egg salad sandwiches.”


Submitted: April 23, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Sherriska. All rights reserved.

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