by Lt. Ethan Brice
A soft veil of light travelled through the open window above his head and shone onto the floor. Morning had come unannounced once again. Eyes barely able to blink opened with a stiffness recognisable after restless sleep and the body of a man turned itself over, wanting the hours to fall from the clock, time to reverse itself and it to the witching hour once more.
He groaned and turned once again, onto his back this time. Opening his eyes he looked up to the ceiling above the bed, seeing the light. His eyes closed and a hand reached upward the rub the sleep from his eyes the sandman had deposited as a keepsake. Swinging his legs over the edge of the bed, the man let his feet touch the floor and momentarily felt the presence of the liquor bottle before his kick made it roll towards the wall with a clink.
“Morning, sweetheart,” he whispered gently.
He pushed his body from the mattress and stood, welcoming the new day with a stretch and a yawn. Stiffly he walked into the adjoining bathroom and felt for the tap, feeling the gush of cold water as he turned the handle. Washing away the lack of sleep from his face, he reached blindly for the towel and dabbed away the moisture from his features, looking into the mirror.
A flash from the bedroom, the movement of someone walking past the door and he whipped round to find no one there. He breathed a sigh of relief as his heart rate raced, pumping away inside his chest against his ribcage.
“You scared me then, darling,” he said to the air around him as he dressed, pulling on the shirt and trousers. “You’d make me jump out of my skin to get me to laugh.”
Looping the tie around his neck, he fastened it into the knot and let the tail hang down his abdomen. He looked into the full-length mirror. Picture perfect, as she would always say. He slipped a hand into his pocket and with the other reached for the linen trousers he’d been wearing for bed.
“I’ve got a lot to do today, it’s a big day, everyone’s coming over,” he tossed the dirty linen trousers into the hamper and picked up the remnants of the night before. “I can’t believe we drank all this last night...”
He walked down the stairs, picking up his shirt that had been removed and tossed happily on the stairwell, along with the tie that was hanging off the banister. His shoes, the black ones were waiting at the bottom of the stairs for him to slip his feet into and the scent of her perfume was lingering in the air all around him.
“Smells lovely, beautiful,” he said, walking into the kitchen. “Is the coffee done yet? The replicator’s not acting up, is it?”
It wasn’t. He ordered a cup of coffee from the replicator and sat at the small kitchen table, drinking from the mug and smiling to himself.
“I thought about re-enlisting last night, to give me something to do,” he drank from the mug. “I miss being in the service, besides...” he smiled... “I think my old uniform might still fit me.”
There was a knock on the door, a gentle knock that tapped only three times and then the door slid open casually like it had done a million times over. A familiar face, a young woman with dark hair flowing beautifully like it had always done, ever since she was a little girl. The smile, that gorgeous smile that he could never replace and never wanted to ever present, adorned on her features like a candle in the darkness of night.
“Ready to go, Dad?”
Summer was always her favourite time of the year. The spring lambs had already began to run around and the spring chicks were nearly ready to start giving eggs. The farm would be in bloom and she would be able to venture around her garden, happily and content, picking up the wildlife and finding new ways to plant her most treasured flowers. When the Autumn came, she could find new things to replant, new things to do, sit in the garden and watch the leaves fall one by one from the trees, falling to the ground to begin a new life as some other part of existence.
But summer was by far her favourite.
Stood beneath the Oak tree, sheltered and shaded by the huge branches that reached out into the clear blue sky, the man stood back and watched as the mahogany coffin was lowered into the ground. Friends and family stood around, his daughter, his most precious and beloved daughter stayed beside him, holding onto his arm, linking him for comfort as his wife had done.
Tears were shed, small droplets of water fell from his eyes but he wasn’t sad. He wouldn’t utter her name in sorrow and he would never be solemn. Life would continue, flowers would burst forth into existence and the cycle would begin again in the Fall.
As the Chaplain finished his final words, everyone began to walk away and the daughter pulled on his arm very gently, smiling with words of encouragement and being strong when he couldn’t face to reality of it all. She would be there, she said, she would always be there helping and offering a guiding hand, there to protect and to love as he had promised her when she was first born.
His daughter, his only daughter; his pride and joy.
What are little girls made of? The same light their mother’s are.
[2007: SEP-OCT] Morning Light
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