Surprise Santa

I gripped the steering wheel and dragged in a heavy breath.

Walmart. Christmas Eve. I could do this.

My wallet sat in the passenger seat, mocking me with its meager contents.

“You’re the reason I’m here now,” I grumbled at it. “Instead of sitting on my couch wrapping gifts I wanted to get weeks ago.”

The boys were at home with their daddy, hoping Santa would be bringing their gifts that night. I sniffed as I recalled childhood Christmases watching the pile of presents grow day after day. My children’s Christmas memories were turning out quite different from my own. Continue reading “Surprise Santa”

Memorial Day

She stumbled through her bedroom door and slammed it shut behind her. Her arms clutched a folded flag against her middle, squeezing it like she’d been wrapped in a straight jacket. She fell back against the door and, with a choking sob, slowly dripped to the floor. Her shoulders jerked and shivers traveled over her body as she wept. Her lips nearly disappeared when she pressed them shut, trying to remain quiet in her grief.

There was no reaction as he materialized across the room from her. His weapons were no longer strapped to him, his fatigues replaced by a different and much more relaxed uniform; the t-shirt and faded jeans he always wore whenever he was home on leave. But this time they were even more faded than usual. In fact, his entire body was faded. He could see the pattern and texture of the carpet through his sneakers.

His eyes pinched in sorrow as he watched the girl weep. She was breaking right before him. And he couldn’t put her together this time. Continue reading “Memorial Day”