The participating posts in this blogfest will be collected into an anthology made available on Kindle, with the proceeds going to Operation Purple.
All right, off we go:
Her eyes dart across the crowd, and land on a tousled red head, but the child is a stranger. She searches again. Then she sees them.
James is standing near the back, looking directly at her with a big grin on his face. On his shoulders sits little Dylan, his red hair – the hair no one on either side of the family can account for – glints under the florescent lights high above him. He looks both excited and a little frightened by all the people around him.
The battalion is released. The soldiers fall out, all of the tense anxiety of thirty-six hours of traveling, and expectation melts into a miasma that is palpable in the air. People jostle and push in an orderly way, as they try to reach their loved ones in a room that is too small to really hold all of them. After a time that seems to be too long, but is really only a minute or two, James is in front of her, leaning in with Dylan still perched on his shoulders. He pecks her on the cheek, aware of how she has always felt about PDAs in front of other soldiers.
He lifts Dylan from his shoulders and holds her son out to her. Dylan makes a face and struggles as she takes him in her arms. He whines and squirms as she hugs him, and tears spring into her eyes.
He doesn’t remember me.
Nine months of his life had passed by. Nine months that she had only glimpsed through weekly video calls on Skype.
She tries not to let the tears fill her voice. “Shhhh, Honey Bunny. It’s ok.”
At the sound of her voice Dylan calms. He looks up into her face. The frown on his face makes him look like a very serious old man
. He lifts one chubby hand to touch her cheek, then her mouth. He knows her voice.
“Hi there,” she says making herself smile, despite her absolute certainty that she is a stranger to her
own son. “I missed you Honey Bunny.”
Dylan laughs. He recognizes her voice, even if her face may seem a little odd to him.
“See,” James says. He wraps his arms around them, making a Dylan sandwich between them. “Nothing to worry about. He knows who you are. We’re so glad you’re home.”