Here is some flash fiction for you. I wasn’t going to use this blog to post any fiction; much less fiction that shouldn’t see the light of day, but a challenge is a challenge. Haven’t done this for a long time. Was good to challenge myself again. I was provided the opening phrase and took it from there. I also only had 24 hours to submit this for a contest.
It was Christmas Eve; Nancy dozed before the fireplace, wondering if he would come, as promised. A half empty bottle of Chardonnay left a sticky circle beside a pile of letters from her beloved David. He was a good boy, her David, and he always had been. He was polite and smart, a terrific athlete, and if he wasn’t the funniest person alive, he was a close second. He came home for every holiday when he first went off to college. That was two and a half years ago now, and so much had changed.
She last saw him only six months ago, but it seemed like forever. It was hard to tell who looked prouder, David in his uniform, or Nancy, in the flowered dress that David bought her for Mother’s Day.
The fire cracked, waking Nancy from her uneasy silence. The fire was a warm presence beside her, but offered no comfort from her chill. She sat and watched the flames climb then vanish. The soft popping of dried wood magnified to the sounds of mortar shells that David would write home about. There would be no tears. David told her not to cry when he left, and Nancy wanted to keep her word as David always kept his.
The minutes crawled along as Nancy sat, huddled in the over-sized armchair that David refused to throw out. It was always the same around the Morgan household at Christmas time. Nancy would sit in the fraying purple chair while reading letters from David until he came through the door. Her thin, aging frame was nearly swallowed by the chair but it still smelled like David, and that was at least comforting.
His letters would arrive in bunches, usually five or six at a time. Nancy would read each one three times before opening another letter. When David would write about gunfire and explosions Nancy would shudder, as she saw her son lying in the mud, silently praying to make it through alive, unlike so many of his friends.
The last batch of letters arrived early last week. Many were dated from October, but the last of the pile was from late November. Though David was still sane, Nancy couldn’t quite feel the same. He was looking forward to seeing mom at Christmas. As always, he promised.
Her hands trembled as she stuffed the letter back into the envelope as best as her arthritis allowed. She was fifty going on one hundred and every minute that passed without David bursting through the front door aged her another year.
Nancy adjusted her flowered dress and returned the letter to the pile. Shaking, she grabbed the wine and poured herself another glass. Nancy flipped down the photo of David on the mantle and wiped her now teary eyes. She forced her gaze to the table where she stared defiantly at the unopened letter from the War Department and her late husband’s service revolver.