Coming Home

Finalist in the 'Top Secret 2016' competition

Four years is a long time to not see your father. Back when the war started, he went straight to the recruitment office. Only one week after that he was shipped off to some far away country and I didn't hear from him for about six months. His first letter said he had been promoted to Sergeant and he sent a photo in front of a monument in a far away land.
I immediately sent a letter back describing my six months with his absence. I had been getting good grades at school and also won the grand final with the local football team. Mum had been working at the café in the main street and my little brother had just taken his first steps. And with every letter I would send him, I ended it with Come Home Soon.
Usually, I got about five letters a month from him; he would send me a bullet case or a piece of shrapnel. For Christmas one year, he sent me a little wooden soldier he had found on the battlefield. The soldier still sits on my shelf today.
By the time my father had been away for 2 ½ years my best friend got a telegram saying that his father had been killed in action. He didn't come to school for a week and I even missed a day to go to the funeral. The coffin was made of timber and had our flag draped over the end. There were funerals all the time from then on. I sent a letter to my father telling him that I had been to three funerals in a month. He sent a letter back saying that he had been promoted to Lieutenant and to tell my friends that he is sorry for their loss.
By the time it had been almost four years, the newspapers were saying that the war was all but over. My father sent a letter saying that they had almost reached the enemy’s last major city. He mentioned that most of his platoon were getting ready to be shipped home and that he would be too. I could hardly wait; I shook with excitement when I heard that the enemy had surrendered. About a week later, we got a letter saying my father was coming home and would be back at the end of the month.
Yesterday I saw my father after four years at war. He had aged and his black hair sported some grey. He was paler. He was dressed in his uniform and slouch hat. He had a scar on his left cheek and about four days of stubble. I felt my emotions build up inside as I placed flowers in his coffin. "Come home soon,” I whispered, the coffin was shut and lowered into the dark hole.

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