|The Boys Went Marching...|
All the other new brides gathered at the church hall to roll bandages and pack toiletries. Murmurs echoed across, up, and down from the vaulted ceiling.
“Why, my Joe said that Paris is grand, and some day he will take me there! He writes to me every day, you know.” Melissa wrapped bandages, her eyes lost in dreams. Long white strips draped over her rounded belly.
|Beginning of War from Above|
In the circle of young brides. Hannah was alone with a flat belly. Letters from Gerald came every day, but were grim and spotted with mud. His words she would not share with the round-belly brides. They needed their dreams, while Hannah needed truth.
Christmas came and left, church bells rung and carols sung. Then another Christmas slipped by unnoticed.
Brides, now weathered lonely wives, still met at the hall. While toddlers chased around, mothers wrapped and wrapped rolls of white cotton. The young faces once wreathed with smiles now reflected strain of another year gone by. Letters grew fewer and all waited for the one letter they did not want to receive.
Then. It ended.
Australia; women watching for their boys to come down the gangplank
The “boys” came home; some had left legs and arms behind; some remained, buried in graves in France, near the ocean. Boys now men-- some shivered at every loud sound, while others were stoic, with distant haunted eyes.
Gerald held Hannah gently. “It was awful, never seen anything like it.” Hannah settled her face into the fragrance of Gerald’s wool uniform.
She whispered into the wool. “I knew you would come home, just knew it. And, I will never let go of you.”
World War 1 is the often-forgotten war. Its veterans are now gone. Honor them.