I wrote this in high school and got an "A" from my beloved English teacher, Mr. Robert Garrett. He was absolutely gorgeous and an incredible teacher. He was drooled on by every single female student and I often wonder what happened to him.
A girl of nineteen sat the the ruby
red velvet covered window seat. She was dressed in a white lace dress, soft
and fragile. She stood out in the dark and lonely room, so light and tender
while the room appeared cold and impersonal, it's shadowed corners foreboding.
Her thick black hair hung straight down her back and laced itself over her
shoulders, partially covering her face. Long fingers moved smoothly over
guitar strings, bringing forth a slow, ghostly sad tune. The moon seeped
through the draperies, gently kissing the girl with soft rays of moonlight.
Shadows played in the dark, touching the bookcases, rich tapestries and thick
Beside her was a telegram, resting discarded on the seat. It was dated a week ago, December 21st. "This telegram is to inform you that your son, Philip John Carson, was killed in action in Vietnam in the line of..saved the life of a friend....." It really didn't matter how it ended.
She stopped the song,and again, turned to the telegram, refusing to touch it. Tears filled her eyes and rolled quietly down her cheeks. Looking up at the circled moon, so large and white, she whispered, "Why, oh God, why did it have to happen to my brother? The life of a friend? Derek's life?"
"Derek! You get out of that tree
this instant! You know your father said to stay down from there until he
saws off those dead limbs!"
Reluctantly, Derek climbed down from the tree as his best friend appeared from across the street, smiling in all is ten year old innocence shouting "Hiya, Derek!" Suddenly he stopped short, then burst into wild run across the yard, running into Derek as he landed on the ground. Philip hit Derek so hard that they both went rolling together, landing as one of the largest limbs Derek fell to the ground with a crack where Derek had just stood.......
Jenny put down her guitar, turned away from the telegram and the window, as if asking for help. The room remained silent, watching, unresponsive. Picking up the guitar again, she started a light, lively tune, but could not make it sound real. The room was getting darker as the night moved along.......
As they grew up, Philip and Derek remained best friends. Jenny saw Derek almost every day and grew to like him, very much. As she expected, Derek treated her like a sister. Jenny sat down one day and decided to wait patiently for him to realize she was also a girl.......
Tears fell fast, dropping un attended in her lap. She thought of how she, Derek and Philip had spent their summers together, bowling, going to dances, bike rides and picnics, singing in local hootenannys. When they were young, they explored the nearby creeks, imagining jungles full of lions, tigers and bears where they fought together, side by side, winning glory and freedom for all. All for one, one for all........
Realizing the room had become very
hot, Jenny opened the windows to the lush green yard that surrounded their
home. Outside air rushed in the room and she could instantly smell the warm
summer night air, freshly cut grass and the sweet honey scent of night blooming
flowers. Crickets and frogs vibrated in the night, the trickling brook sounds
drifted into the room. Turning to the clock, Jenny saw that Philip was late.
He and Derek were to pick her up after work and they would all drive to the
hootenanny practise together. Ten minutes later, Derek drive up alone. Philip
had to work late and couldn't make it.
That night, Jenny was very aware of Derek's' eyes as the sang together, alone in the spotlight. He watched her every move. It seemed as though they were in a world all of their own. Jenny's heart pounded with joy, disappointed when the magic almost dissolved as the song ended. After rehearsal, Derek asked Jenny, "Would you like to go and get something to eat?"
Looking up, Jenny could see Philip's
graduation picture. At the time, he had just asked her best friend, Anne,
to go steady. Anne was in Canada for Christmas vacation with her family,
unaware of the telegram that had arrived just a few short hours ago. The
four of them had had so much fun on double dates.
Outside the room, Jenny could hear her parents silently putting up the Christmas tree. Jenny could almost hear the tears that her parents shed as they tried to carry on with their seasonal traditions. There was no gaiety, no singing. Christmas had meant laughter and happiness every year before, but of course, with Philip and Derek......
"Look out, you clunk! You're not
putting the tinsel on so it looks pretty!" Jenny complained..
"Tinsel? Pretty?" .
Philip entered the room..
"You two never stop fighting, do you?" .
Derek's expression was on of complete innocence and shock..
"Fight? Do we fight, Jens?".
Jenny earnestly shook her head with a grin and gave Derek a quick kiss. Derek threw his tinsel on her head and tickled Jenny till she couldn't keep her own tinsel straight. Philip joined in and soon all three of the were laughing and giggling hysterically, covered with Christmas tinsel.
It had started to rain,so Jenny closed the window tightly. She had been sitting in the darkness for several hours, yet looking at the lamp she found no desire to break the deep silence of the shadows. She realized she felt peaceful, yet empty at the same time, staring straight ahead into a space of blankness........
Philip came into the kitchen without
his carefree expression. Instead, his face was of shock, dull and lifeless.
Jenny was sitting at the table talking to their mother. They both turned
to Philip as he stopped by their sides and placed an envelope on the worn
table that had witnessed generations of family discussions, dinners, and
"My draft notice".
Looking at Jenny, he softly added, "Derek got his, too. I am sorry, Jens."
Jenny stood slowly, her eyes filling with tears as he put her arms around her brother..
"Oh Philip, are you, is it, oh, Vietnam?" she asked, trying to keep her voice steady. Philip nodded silently.
"Eventually. Derek, too."
Mrs. Carson softly opened the door
and came in, pouring a stream of light into the darkened room..
"Honey?" she whispered. "Dinner?" Jenny didn't look up, but she shook her head. Mrs. Carson paused for a moment, then left the room, closing the door silently behind her, continuing the darkness.......
Jenny looked through the open door
into Philip's bedroom to see him packing his clothes into a duffel bag. So
small of a bag. So few things could fit in that small, grey colored bag.
She walked in and he looked up at younger sister..
"You aren't going to cry, are you, Jenny?" he gently asked.
Unable to speak for fear of releasing the quickly approaching tears, Jenny merely shook her head. The tears fell down her cheeks despite her attempts to hold them back. Philip went to her swiftly to hold her.
"Jenny, don't cry. It won't be long, I promise. We will be home, all together again. Besides, you have to hold the fort down here at home for us. You have to keep living, keep going."
Realizing how serious he had sounded, he stepped back a touch and smiled.
"Hey, don't even worry. They'll come for you soon and we all all be there together, the three of us, fighting our way through the jungles, having a great time." Jenny managed a weak smile as the doorbell rang. It was Derek. To say goodbye.......
The phone rang. Mrs. Carson picked up the receiver. "No, I am sorry, Jenny is not available. May I take a message? All right......Thank you.....Goodbye......"
Jenny looked at the door without interest. She wondered who it might have been. Diane had wanted to go to the show sometimes and Dan, a friend of Derek's was going to take her to a party. She didn't care, really. It seemed as if there wasn't going to be any party tomorrow night, or anything after today. Nothing, anymore......
"Jenny, you have to keep living.
We are going to see a lot. Killing, death. I am only glad you are not
going to see it, darling." Derek fingered the diamond engagement ring on
her left hand.
"Don't worry. After all, look at all I have to live for. You, us, little ones in five or so years. It's life's beginning for us. It won't end for me or for you, especially. You'll see. No matter what, you have to keep living. Remember that, Jens." Then he was gone........
Taking another look at the moon, Jenny put the guitar away. She smoothed out her dress and stood up. Picking up the telegram she tore it many times and dropped it into the waste basket. Turning, she walked through the dark room, straightened her shoulders, opened the door and walked out into the light.
Return to Inside Anne Return to Packrat Main Page