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Classification Vignette
Length Approximately 18,000 words; 4 pages (8 ½” x 11”)
Spoilers Nothing really specific
Rating CF
Summary On a very special day, a young lieutenant needed someone to talk to…

 

 

For most people, this was a day like any other. The warm sun of August was darting its rays through the canopy of the trees, encouraging the heedlessness of the fledglings that had left the familial nest a few weeks ago. Children were running in the luxurious grass, oblivious to their parents’ repetitive warnings, while older couples were walking, hand in hand, respectfully silent to their surroundings. Some lonely visitors were addressing greetings to old acquaintances, reminiscing over some ancient stories they would never forget.

Clad in his ceremonial dress whites, a young Navy lieutenant crossed the gate, addressing a crisp salute to the guard at the entrance. The controlled hurry in his pace indicated that he wasn’t only there to take a walk, but that he had most probably some important business to accomplish. For the umpteenth time, he placed the large bouquet of fresh white lilies under the pit of his arm and looked at the old map that was carefully hidden in his left breast pocket, just over his heart, making sure he knew precisely where he was going. He really couldn’t indulge himself to lose any precious minutes. Time was running short, but nothing could have prevented him from being there.

Near the end of a deserted row, hidden behind a large tree, the man found exactly what he was looking for. At the same moment, his steps became a little slower, more hesitant. His internal turmoil was telling him that it was still time to run away, but also that he was too close to surrender right now. He hadn’t come here in years – honestly, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d come – but today, he felt like he needed to. Any other day would be too late for what he had in mind. Tightening his grip on the stems of the flowers, he approached carefully, and squatted down in front of the cold memorial.

Solemnly, he brushed his fingers over the name carved in the stone. “Hello, Sarah,” he greeted her respectfully, with a slight catch evident in his voice. “You know? Even after all these years, it still feels weird to address you by your given name. To me, it seems so unreal. Is it okay if I call you Sunshine? That’s what Dad used to call you.”

Staring at the neatly cut grass in front of the monument as if waiting for some kind of answer, the young man’s eyes followed the path of a small ant climbing on a leaf. “I’ve never heard anybody pronounce your name after that horrible day. It’s as if its sound would bring back a flood of memories, even now. For us, you’re Angel, Moonlight, Sunshine… Don’t misunderstand me. I love Sarah, but you have to agree that the other pseudonyms are a lot more poetic. It’s like you’re always in the sky, watching over us. This way, I always know where you are, days or nights, when I want to talk to you.”

Shivering involuntarily, the lieutenant stared at the sun for some comfort. Immediately, the only sight of the star infused him with a reassuring strength. “However, today is different. I wanted – no, I needed – to be here to talk to you. Addressing the moon or the sun would have been too impersonal for what I have in mind.” Glimpsing rapidly at his ancestral pocket watch, he continued. “Well, now, I really do need to stop rambling, because Dad’s probably on the verge of sending out the search party. I didn’t tell him I was coming here – I think it would have been too hard on him. He misses you terribly, you know? Every year, he comes here, but he doesn’t have to courage to go any further than the gate – that’s why you have never seen him around.”

Chuckling sadly, he shook his head. “Okay, that’s worse than I thought. I’m talking to you as if you were a real person, able to see the visitors. Well, in some way, I wish you could,” he added gravely, finally laying the flowers on the ground. Lovingly, he brushed a finger over the clear wrapping, lingering for a second over the raffia green bow. “It’ll be 25 years in a few months, but for everyone, it feels like if it were yesterday. I was too young to understand when it happened, but Uncle AJ told me everything when I was older. He said that I needed to know who you were, and that honouring your memory would keep you alive in the bottom of my heart forever. It’s so bizarre, because nobody had ever brought me here when I was younger. Maybe they all thought that it was too morbid for a child. I’ve never really found the courage to come here alone earlier either. I hope you will forgive me, and I’ll make sure to make up for that.”

Caressing the rough edges of the stone, the young man placed his left knee on the ground to keep his bearings, careful not to stain his immaculate uniform. He looked skyward, his gaze locking on a deeper shade of blue somewhere in the outer space. “Mattie told me once that she would always come to her mother when she had some important news to share. She said that she could tell her everything – fear, joy, pain, love… Today, I’m here because of the latter. I’m getting married in a few minutes.”

A pride smile twitched at the corners of his lips and almost reached his deep aquamarine eyes. “I’m sure you would have loved her. Lizzie is the most incredible woman I’ve ever met. I know it sounds cheesy, but I can honestly say that it was love at first sight. She was so beautiful with those splendid big blue eyes; I fell under her spell right away. It’s like we’ve known each other forever. Her parents are amazing too. They’ve immediately welcomed me with open arms, even though I was dating their only child. No loaded shotguns, no long speeches about the meaning of real love. I just have to look at them; they’re the best example of love I could ever wish for. They only asked me to take very good care of her, and that’s exactly what I intend to do. Last year, when she graduated from the Academy, I proposed to her in front of all our friends, and she accepted immediately. No hesitations, no doubts, but no words. She just kept nodding and nodding, unable to pronounce the traditional ‘yes.’ Someone took a picture. You should see us, we’re both crying, but for me, it’s the happiest moment in my life, until today. We’ve been planning this ever since.”

Fidgeting nervously with the transparent cellophane wrapping the flowers, he lowered his head and stared at his well-shined shoes. “I know we never had time to get to know each other very well, but I do wish you were here today. Sitting in the front row at the church, wiping your eyes nervously because you would never concede that a wedding could make you cry. You would probably stand by my side, making sure everything’s all right, checking if my medals are still hanging correctly on my uniform after hugging everyone on the porch of the church, for the official pictures. You would most likely be the only one able to convince my best man to behave properly. All the things someone special like you would normally do.”

Sighing heavily, he laid his hand delicately atop of the stone, as if resting his hand on her shoulder. “I know it’s impossible to have you down here today, but there’s something you can do from up there. Could you watch over Lizzie, please? From all the stories I’ve heard over the years, I’m sure her parents could lend her some members of their guardian angels’ army, but I would feel better if I knew you were there too. She’s the most precious thing I have on Earth, and I sincerely don’t know what I would do if anything happened to her.”

Slowly getting back on his feet, he brushed a lone tear away, and laughed nervously. “I’m sure Mom would kill me if I arrived at my own wedding with red swollen eyes. She wants everything to be perfect. Well, she’s nothing like Grandma, but she wants at least one perfect marriage in the family, preferably the first one. I’ve never known exactly what happened at their wedding, but I’ve been told repeatedly to stay away from pregnant exotic dancers.” Glancing at his watch once again with an amused smirk, he excused himself. “I’m sorry to leave so quickly, Sunshine, but I really need to get going. My future mother-in-law would decapitate me if I’m late, even for a minute, and since she doesn’t even need a watch to tell time, she would have both her hands free to do so. Be sure of one thing – I won’t forget you, and I’ll come back with my lawfully wedded wife as soon as possible. Can you imagine? From all the possible pretenders, I’m the lucky one Andrea Elizabeth Rabb has chosen as a faithful companion. I think I’m the happiest man in the world. I love you, sis,” he concluded, laying a soft kiss on the top of the monument. For a few seconds, his fingers lingered on the carved stone, tracing every single letter affectionately. Finally, he took a step back and started walking briskly towards the church across the street.

Right behind the large bouquet of fresh lilies, it could be read:

Sarah Roberts
November 14, 2000.


The End

 

 
 
   

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