Where The Peonies Bloom – Part 3

Photo by Chad Lyons

Photo by Chad Lyons

1945

He was accustomed to the darkness after serving on the front lines in the Pacific.  War never slept and for three years, neither did he.  He stopped writing his wife, Annie, after the first year of deployment.  She stopped sometime before the second.  Her last letter brief, “Reap what you sow.”   He tossed the letter into a mass grave of emaciated Japanese soldiers.   He doubted he would survive to return home, but he had.  The bus dropped him off at dusk on the main road a few miles from his farm.   He spent the better part of an hour leaning against an oak tree on the edge of his property.  The smoke from his hand rolled cigarette and an acre of freshly mowed hay the only thing between him and home.   He watched, the house was as dark as his mood, she wasn’t home.

The full moon lit the yard surrounding the house.  Laundry still hung on the clothes line, he smiled knowing how many times he had distracted her from finishing her chores.  From what he could see, the house was intact, flowers growing, fields tended, livestock in the barn.  Christ, she had waited, but what other choice did she have.   The sound of his 1936 Ford Pickup rambling down the road toward him lightened his mood.  He would take what was his tonight.

Hands in his pockets, he stood in the driveway as she pulled in.  The headlights were bright and he was unable to get a good look at her, but undoubtedly she had seen him.  The passenger door opened first and a young girl emerged, he failed to recognize his four year old daughter Alice because he was completely focused on the man who exited the driver’s door.  Glancing back to the girl, Annie stood in front of her and the man had walked around the back of the truck and stood behind them both.  Annie, never taking her eyes off Francis, gently spoke to Alice, “Go inside sweetie, your dollies must be waiting to be put to bed.”  An obedient child, she did what she was told.  Annie, obviously disturbed by his presence, her guilt ridden voice shook, “Welcome home Francis.”

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