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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Postcards (08/29/05)

TITLE: En Masse
By Debra Brand


I don’t know why I checked the mail. Sometimes you need to find a sense of the routine during a time of turmoil and despair. A cup of coffee, read the paper and getting dressed, all normal yet insane. I pat my jacket to feel a little comfort and to hopefully send some to a far away place.

"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…"

Sudden death is overwhelming. Just last week, she called and told us she would be coming home with exciting news. Her lovely voice, just barely contained the surprise in store for us.

The only visual left is the ugly twisted metal on a slow dangerous curve. The storm dissipated, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. Mourning replaces blessedness. Lord, it’s hard when your child dies before you. All your hopes and dreams of their future on this earth, gone…a wispy vapor of memory. The weather continues to commiserate with my gloom, sending drizzling drops to bead down the dreary umbrellas.

Not able to contact him because of black ops in the Persian Gulf, Joshua won’t be here. This will all be over before he finds out.

Then, in the mail, a picture postcard of Virginia Beach with a message she’ll never read. "Miss you. I’m so lonesome, I could cry. Love, Joshua."

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…”

In the distance I see flashing red lights. Through the rain, the refractions bounce off every wet surface. Two military officers alight from the car and stroll across the damp grass. Moving towards them, I wait at the edge of the mourners.

“Hello,” I said. “Thank you for coming for Joshua. It’ll mean a lot to him and his family.”

“Are you Mr. Osborne?” the petty officer asked. Steely gray eyes peered out from under the black brimmed hat. The other officer stood beside him in nervous attention. “We regret to inform you that Joshua will not be coming home. We can’t tell you how or why because of security restrictions but his boat never returned from their operations and all crew members have been lost at sea.”

Suddenly feeling old and very tired, I turn away from the officers. Across the open pit, the pastor continues, “In this world you will have tribulation, but fear not for I have overcome the world.”

I grab my chest and remember the card. Taking it from my jacket, I read it again. With a flick of my wrist, the postcard sails through the air, landing on the casket in the shoveled muddy hole. Here, honey. These last words are for you and the baby.

Together in life, together in death, a void of time filled in heaven.

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This article has been read 934 times
Member Comments
Member Date
dub W09/05/05
Troubling...the transition threw me a little. Thanks for the interesting essay.
Anna Meadows09/06/05
Well, not a feel-good article... but writen nicely none the less... thank you for sharing your gift with us!
Karen Ward09/08/05
The transition threw me too, but the tears were pricking nonetheless...
Jan Ackerson 09/08/05
Very, very sad, and very, very well-written.
Julianne Jones09/09/05
I'm guessing that Joshua is the daughter's husband? Well written and interesting but I was a little confused at times. Perhaps a few more sentences to link the paragraphs would make it flow for the reader.
Val Clark09/12/05
Love your opening paragraph, Deb. Really set the scene well. The story is so sad for the mother. Horrible to work through surviving your kids. One blow following another and there is only One to cling to. Watch out for changes in tense ‘pastor continues’’ and singular/plural – ‘his boat never returned from their.’ Yeggy.