Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Music (03/08/07)
- TITLE: Five Nights in '45
By Myrna Noyes
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“I have half a mind to find out who’s playing that and tell them off,” he fumed. “Don’t they realize their window’s open and some people might be in bed already?”
He pounded his pillow in frustration, but soon the song ended, and there was no more music. Jack fell into a fitful slumber, and by morning had forgotten about the incident.
The heat wave continued, and the following night found him restlessly seeking sleep again, when suddenly he heard the same melody and sat bolt upright.
I can’t believe it! Is someone’s radio haunted?
“We’ll meet again.
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.”
Jack remembered hearing it on his Navy ship off Okinawa. He pictured his buddies and himself lying on deck to catch cool breezes while this and other war tunes played. Smiley, Bill, and J.T. grinned at him in his thoughts, and he grinned back.
Without warning he felt long-suppressed emotions rising within, and anger was uppermost. Smiley would never see another sunny day, and J.T. lost his leg the evening the kamikaze hit them. Jack raged at God for allowing Nazis, war, death, and destruction. Finally sleeping, he dreamed of J.T. mournfully holding out his severed limb while Jack covered Smiley’s dead face with his sailor cap and Bill sang in a deep, solemn voice: “Don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again.”
In the morning, Jack awoke with a headache; and the torturous images the song conjured up stalked him all day. Anger and grief jostled for supremacy, and when night came, he fell exhausted into bed. This time he waited quietly, and as if on cue, the melody began a couple minutes after eight. “God help me,” he begged the dark, starry sky, as he lay still and listened to each word.
When it ended, he felt an unexpected glimmer of hope in the words about meeting some sunny day. Could that mean a heavenly reunion? Groans and sobs arose from the pit of his ravaged heart, and he wept out his sorrow for Smiley, J.T. himself, the world. When he finally ceased, his T-shirt was soaked with tears and his throat and eyes stung; but he sensed a healing had begun somewhere in his soul.
The fourth evening, Jack leaned out his window as soon as the familiar strains began. He was consumed with curiosity to discover why someone had to hear “We’ll Meet Again” every night. At last he determined it was coming from the apartment directly below, and went to bed satisfied.
At 7:30 the next night, Jack put on a clean shirt and made his way downstairs. He knocked, and a smiling young woman opened the door.
“I’ve come to ask about the song you play every night,” Jack stammered, suddenly nervous.
“Oh, I’m so sorry! Has it bothered you much? We didn’t mean to disturb anyone!” A wide-eyed boy of about four peeked around his mother.
“I just want to know what the song means to you and to tell you what it’s meant to me. I live above you and recently came back from serving overseas.”
The door opened wider, and she invited, “Won’t you come in for a minute? I’d like to explain.”
When they were seated, with the boy on her lap, she began: “This was the song Tommy’s daddy sang to him each night before he left for boot camp. Six months ago, he was killed. Tommy knows Daddy’s with God but misses him so, and always before bedtime prayers he has me play it to make Daddy seem closer.” She looked down at the floor.
Jack said quietly, “Now I want to share…”
An hour later, as he left the apartment thinking of the sweet little boy and his companionable, attractive mother, he found himself humming, “Don’t know when, but we’ll meet again.”
“We’ll Meet Again” words and music by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles, 1939, public domain
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