Posts Tagged ‘Emily’

I woke up with this title in my head.  I don’t think I’ve ever named a dream while still asleep.

A shabbily dressed homeless man stood in the middle of the street, autumn leaves blowing past him in the light breeze.  I stood transfixed on the sidewalk.  He was plucking an acoustic guitar, singing The Weight with his scratchy voice.

 

His voice wasn’t what captivated me, it was the fact that he had no hands.  His arms ended in stumps, yet he was still able to play quite well.   A class of schoolchildren on a field trip approached him in a line, their teacher at the head.  Each child held a bowl of applesauce and a spoon.  The teacher approached the man and scooped out a spoon of applesauce, holding it up to him.  He happily ate it and kept on playing.

One by one, still in their line behind the street musician, the children turned and fed the child behind them a single scoop of applesauce.   A woman came jogging by on the sidewalk dressed head to toe in sweats, but still style-conscious enough to be attired with many fine earrings, necklaces and rings.

“What a noble thing you kids are doing, “she said as she came to a stop.  “I can help out too.”

She plucked a ring from her finger, a flat golden heart-shaped band, and tossed it to the school kids.  It was a poor throw, and the ring bounced in the middle of the street and rolled under a nearby parked car.  My sister, who had apparently been standing beside me this whole time, ran over and stooped under the car to retrieve the ring.  She returned and gave it to me.

“Is it gold?” she asked. “You’ll know if it’s gold if it’s still warm.”  I put the ring to my cheek to test.

“Yup, it’s gold.”

Bavarian Alps, Germany.  1970

Emily searches the rolling, grassy hills with her binoculars as I recline up against a large, smooth boulder, clutching my sniper rifle to my chest.  The hill we are on is the tallest for kilometers around and offers a breathtaking view of the German countryside.  Our commanding officer stands behind us.

“I’ve found them,” Emily states.  Our commander orders me to confirm.

I slide forward on my stomach through the grass and rest my rifle atop a small rock.  Peering through the powerful scope enables me to quickly locate the targets in question.  Over two klicks away, the faces of three women fill my view.  They just finished a round of target practice with rifles of their own and now sit on a blanket in a grassy meadow, relaxing in the beautiful weather.

One has her back to me, long blond hair blocking her face from my sight.  “Targets 1 and 2 confirmed.  I don’t have a clear line on the third’s face.”  As if in response, she turns slightly and my heart freezes in my chest.  She’s smiling at a joke told by one of the others.  I know that smile.  It’s the same she gives me when I surprise her with a box of chocolates, the same that so often turns into musical laughter and always makes me smile in return to see her happy.

My commander’s voice breaks through my thoughts.  “Can you confirm Target 3?”

“I…”

“Can you confirm or can’t you?”

Closing my eyes I manage to croak out, “Target 3 confirmed.”

“Good,” she says.  “Take the shot.”

Returning my aim to the first target I settle the cross-hairs on her face, in the center of her forehead.  My breathing slows, the steady thumping of my heart the only sound filling my ears.  I take a breath, let out half of it, and hold.  The trigger slowly retreats as my finger applies pressure.

The crack of the rifle retorts off the surrounding hills.  The bullet enters just under her right cheekbone.  I quickly track over to the second target and fire off a quick shot.  A hit.

As I bring my rifle to bear on the third target, I hesitate.  My love is panicked and confused, wildly looking around for the source of the gunfire.

I squeeze the trigger as slowly as I can, hoping that perhaps if it’s done slowly enough it won’t cause the gun to go off at all. “Forgive me, my love.”  The firing mechanism reaches the trigger point with a jarring click.  However, the only sound that follows is a distinct metallic ping.

“Misfire.”

I hand my rifle over to Emily and she removes the top cover.

“This round was loaded wrong,” she says.  Only a few moments pass and she hands the rifle back to me, reloaded and ready to fire.

“Reacquire target,” the commander orders.

I raise the rifle once more and sight the meadow.  The love of my life is nowhere to be seen.  With a sick, sinking feeling in my gut I spot her.  Tears stream down her face as she runs along a road, blond hair flowing gracefully in her wake.  All I want to do is wipe those tears away, hold her in my arms.

As if miles away I hear the commander.  “Take the shot.”  My finger twitches slightly.  “Take the shot!”  My arm tenses as I center the cross-hairs on her chest.  “TAKE THE SHOT!”

“I love you,” I whisper.  “I’m sorry.”