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The Endless Wait MAG
Mrs. Baker recklessly pulled out of the diner's parking lot. Business had been heavy that afternoon, and she was late picking up her son at school. . Although the school had been out for almost twenty minutes, there were still a scattered few playing in the courtyard. Mrs. Baker spotted her son, Richy. It was not unusual for Richy to sit secluded from his schoolmates. Since his dad had left, he spent most of his time this way.
Richy glanced up, spotted his mother and smiled.
"Mommy, you're late."
"I'm sorry, honey," Mrs. Baker replied as she give her son a hug. "But we had a busy lunch. Oh, Richy, you feel warm. We'll take your temperature when we get home." Since both the school and the Baker's home were on the Fort Dix military base, they were soon there.
The house was small, with only four rooms. Although modest, it still hada comforting feeling. While the thermometer was in his mouth, Richy turned on his side. On his night table stood a picture of Richy and his father, taken on his fourth birthday. Richy, smears of chocolate icing still on his face, was precariously balancing on a new bike. His father held itwith one hand, and steadied Richy's shoulder with the other. Richy stared at the picture for a few moments, trying to recall every detail of his father's face: the dark hair and sideburns, the loving smile, the eyes that gazed right back into his own. Richy performed this ritual every day. But the last few weeks it took him longer each time to see his father in his mind, and the details were becoming hazier.
Mrs. Baker softly entered the room to check on her son. "Oh honey, it's a hundred and two. you'd better try to sleep," said Mrs. Baker tenderly. Giving him an aspirin, she kissed him on the forehead, and left the room.
Sitting at her cluttered desk, she took the letter she had received from her husband two days ago. With a quivering lip she reread it.
May 16, 1968
Please forgive me for not writing sooner, but since I'm back from R&R I haven't had much time. I'm currently located in DaNang, where the war is getting worse. The Cong have more and better weapons.
I am fine, although I've lost weight. What I wouldn't give for one of your chocolate chip cookies.
We lost one of our boys in the platoon last week. His death hit me hard. A mortar exploded next to him. I carried him to the aid station where he died.Well, that's about all the news. We're preparing for an all-out offensive. Tell Richy I love him, and don't worry about me, honey. I'll get home. I promise.
Keep me in your prayers.
Mrs. Baker slowly placed the letter next to a large pile of unpaid bills. Richard was still alive. It had been so hard not hearing from him, not knowing ... and trying to be cheerful in front of Richy had almost been unbearable. But now she knew he was alive, that he would come home soon. He must come home soon. Suddenly, she began to sob uncontrollably. She cried out of loneliness for her husband. She cried for Richy who was missing good times with his father. And most of all, she cried out of the realization that her husband might not return.
* * *
Having finished helping Richy with his homework, Mrs. Baker collapsed onto the couch.
"Would you put the garbage out and lock the back door? Thanks, hon. Oh, and put these sneakers away too."
She watched her son walk out of the room, feeling thankful for all of the responsibilities he shouldered, yet guilty at the same time. Turning her attention to the television, she realized she was just in time for the conclusion of the news.
"I'm Walter Cronkite for the CBS Evening News, and that's the way it is on this Wednesday, November 7, 1974. Good night." n