She sighed as the new dawn light filtered through the linen drapes of her bedroom window.
Scrunching the pillow between her fists, she gave it one punch, then rolled over with an audible groan, running her left hand over the empty space beside her.
“Good morning,” she whispered, to no one in particular. With a final sigh heavenward, she tossed back the blissful warmth of blankets and rose to dress.
Another day, another round of endless laundry, another set of lonely meals. At least she had the Valentine's Tea Party to look forward to in a couple days. The church ladies were working so hard to pull it off.
She splashed cold water on her face, then fumbled for a towel.
But she wasn't going to mope around until then. No, sir. This war had caused enough of that.
Once finished with the toiletries, she went through the motions of dressing and routine chores. With the bed neatly made, her hair coiled and pinned, and her favorite green dress donned, she made her way to the tiny kitchen.
While water boiled for her morning tea, she flipped on the radio and grabbed the duster, giving her cozy home a quick once-over. That done, she swept the kitchen and living room to the sound of Glenn Miller's “In the Mood.”
While brass and percussion played in the background, she sat down at last to a mug of hot tea and a steaming bowl of oatmeal. Mumbling a brief prayer of thanks, she ate quietly and turned the frail pages of her worn Bible to the Gospel of John.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy,” read chapter 16, verse 20.
Sorrow to joy.
She pondered the subtle promise as her ears caught a phrase from the radio: “. . . meeting at Yalta has concluded. After an eight day conference, the Big Three depart with plans for the final defeat and occupation of Nazi Germany. . .”
Her eyes widened. Could this be so? Would the war finally end? Were the rumors true?
She couldn't help it. Her mouth twitched into a smile and she met the shining face of her best friend smiling back through the small, glass frame.
“Are you coming home? Are you coming soon, Jack?” Those laughing eyes never ceased their laughing, but they didn't grant her a reply either.
Lord, keep him safe. Bring him home.
She didn't realize she was twisting the delicate, gold band around and around her ring finger until a muffled voice broke her reverie.
Her hand froze and she blushed.
But he wasn't there to see. Her little habit had always made him laugh.
A smile lit her features as she glanced out the window, watching the mailboy's receding back as he pedaled away for more deliveries.
Her brow furrowed. Billy was earlier than usual.
She shrugged and sipped her tea, then scrunched up her nose at the cold liquid. Smothering a sigh, she put her bowl in the sink and made for the front door, thinking to sweep off the porch before grabbing the day's mail.
But something made her walk past the broom as she pulled on her coat and stepped into the chilly late-Winter air.
The mailbox sat forlornly among a bouquet of withered bushes. They always looked ghastly during the cold months, but come Spring and Summer, they never failed to bloom beautifully. Just seeing those bushes, she found herself wishing for warmer weather, picnics, and long walks as she sifted through the meager collection of envelopes.
One caught her eye. Containing only one word above the listed address, there was no mistaking the distinct loop of the L.
She turned heel and ran to her kitchen, nearly stepping on the cat in her haste, who had seemed to materialize on the rug. She made it to the table, forced herself to take a deep breath and sit before opening the seal. With smiling face and shaking hands, she pulled out a letter.
And couldn't stop the tears. . .
A hand muffled her happy laughs, but couldn't stop the shine of her broad smile.
“Happy Valentine's Day.”
Thanks for reading!