I’ve written a few short stories. Unfortunately, none published so far. But, I like to share what I’ve written. So I’m adding a page to the blog and occasionally I’ll post a short story. I encourage and request all feedback as that is the best way for a writer to grow. Below is Dreaming Of Life.
Marcus stared out the window of the train car as the sun stained hills of Southern England rolled by. He could hear the other soldiers laughing, and joking. Some were enjoying their card games. Others were sleeping, or at least trying to. Marcus couldn’t believe he was going home. They all were. After two years of war, the fight was over. Marcus watched through the glass as the trees passed by. He could remember the trees in the Ardennes Forest. He could remember the trees, broken, splintered. The snow-covered branches and ground covering the pain and suffering that he, they all witnessed.
Marcus survived the D-Day Invasion. He survived what seemed to be countless hours of marching and cold. He survived the Battle of The Bulge.
“Marc!” Leo shouted. Leonard was Marcus’s lieutenant in the Airborne, “How you doing buddy?”
“I’m ok Lieutenant, you?”
“No need to call me that anymore Marc. Its Leo, buddy,” Leo had a look of calm concern on his face. “You haven’t said a word since we left the base Marc. What’s on your mind?”
Marcus looked at Leo with fragile eyes. “I don’t know sir. I have mixed feelings you know. I’m happy and grateful to be here. But I can’t help thinking of Joey, and Danny, and Bill.”
“I know Marc. They were your pals. It’s not supposed to be easy. We all lost friends…no brothers back there. But you got to remember one thing Marc, we all had a job to do. Joey knew that, and so did Danny and Bill. We all knew the stakes. But if we didn’t do it, just think of where we would be now. You know what I’m saying?”
Marcus was looking at Leo now more like a son looking at his wise father. Ironically, Leo was only two years older than Marcus. Leo graduated from Princeton in May of 1941. He joined the Army on December 8th and was commissioned as an officer because of his degree. Marcus joined the Army because he didn’t have any plans and his parents couldn’t afford to send him to college. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do. Pearl Harbor, gave him a purpose.
“Yeah, I know Sir…I mean Leo. I know. I guess I just don’t know how I’m going to explain all this when I get back to New York,” replied Marcus.
“You don’t have to explain anything. Marc. The only thing I want you to do is live everyday like it’s your last. The best way for you to honor those guys is to give everyday everything you got. You understand me Marc?” Leo wasn’t yelling, but his cheeks were flush. His eyes had a look of determination that Marcus recognized from their time in the foxholes under the trees.
“Yes, I understand you.” Marcus still felt reserved and concerned but knew to take Leo’s words to heart. Leo was nothing if not passionate about life. That’s probably what got him through the War and because of that, countless others too.
Three months after Leo, Marcus, and the rest of their regiment returned to the States, Leo was killed in a car accident. Marcus and the rest of the regiment were devastated when they learned Leo died. At the funeral, Marcus found himself struggling to speak the words he wrote for Leo’s eulogy. Marcus willed himself to see past the somber, tear-streaked faces of the other mourners. At that moment he wished he was anywhere other than this funeral. It was then Leo saw her. Her dirty blonde hair and green eyes accentuated her full face. Although seated, Marcus could tell she was a curvaceous woman, who radiated confidence. She sat next to Leo’s parents. Marcus thought she must be a relative of Leo’s, to upset or rebellious to wear a veil. The more Marcus studied her, the more he realized her resemblance to Leo. Leo had a sister? Marcus’s mind began to race when he realized he was only in the middle of his eulogy. The church was silent as he shifted his eyes to see a thousand faces staring back at him. Each person was hanging on every word. Marcus then realized he had stopped speaking.
He cleared his throat and hoped his audience thought he was merely emotional. He couldn’t tell but he didn’t care. He had seen her and realized Leo’s words had always been true. It was time he lived. After the service Marcus approached Leo’s parents and Leo’s sister. Marcus prepared himself to deal with the emotions, but he was surprised to find them happy. They each greeted him with a hug as is if he were a long lost relative.
“Thank you so much for the eulogy Marcus. Leo always said you were special,” Leo’s father said.
Leo’s mother just looked at Marcus with nothing but adoration in her eyes. Leo’s sister smiled at Marcus. But her eyes indicated something more than just gratitude. A few days later Marcus received an invitation to attend dinner at Leo’s parent’s house. As he sat next to Isabella eating a piece of Italian bread, Marcus couldn’t help but feel a connection to her. It was as if they had known each other their entire lives.
Live everyday like it’s your last. Leo’s words echoed through Marcus’ mind as Isabella escorted him to the front door. It was then Marcus asked her if she would join him for a picnic lunch in Central Park. Their date in Central Park that following Saturday afternoon was the first of many. Their courtship was not so much Marcus courting Isabella, but the two of them courting each other. Marcus realized Isabella possessed the same passion for life her brother did. She loved to read and write. She even loved baseball. DiMaggio was her favorite. Although he was from Brooklyn, Marcus looked past Isabella’s love of the Yankees. He even took Isabella to baseball game at Yankee Stadium. They went to Broadway shows and spent what seemed to be countless hours walking in Central Park. One day, Marcus decided to take her to California. It was there, in the middle of a vineyard surrounded by grape trees, he proposed.
A year later Marcus and Isabella celebrated their wedding. Leo would’ve been proud. Marcus knew, on that somber day, this woman was special. As Marcus watched his new bride dancing with her father, he wondered if Leo planned this. “Fate was unstoppable. People come into our lives for a reason,” Leo was always fond of saying. Marcus always believed that to be Leo’s philosophical side. But on this day, his wedding day, Marcus believed something new. Although Leo and Marcus were brought together in the horrors of war, Leo brought Isabella to Marcus.
Marcus decided to stay in the Army. He and Isabella loved the travel and didn’t mind packing up and moving. Their life together was something they both couldn’t have expected, but lived as if they always knew they would. Marcus slowly opened his eyes as the sun broke through the curtains. He was dreaming again. He turned his head to see his beloved Isabella sleeping. Her hair was thin and gray. The wrinkles around her eyes showed her age. He whispered to her it was time get out of bed. The grandchildren were coming over to the house.
“Honey, you know Leo Jr. doesn’t like to wait for grandma to come down from her bedroom.”
Isabella just smiled her gentle smile but kept her eyes closed. Marcus turned his head back and realized he had dreamed back nearly fifty years. He didn’t regret it. He whispered to himself, “Thanks Leo…I mean Lieutenant.”