She was no one’s wife when she returned.
I’d prayed on her grave for it, of course, wordless and desperate and numb. The most dangerous kind of prayer, because it has no words and no terms and no limits – just need. Horrible, aching, eating need.
She was glorious, when she came back. Glorious as she ever was. I was standing by a fire at the side of the street, warming my arthritic hands. She marched by near the head of the army, young and fierce and laughing and beautiful. So very young. So very beautiful.
She didn’t look twice at me, of course. Faded old man in a faded old coat, badges too tarnished and patches too faded to read anymore.
She was no longer my wife, and I was nothing to her, and I didn’t even care, because that long moment of seeing her that way again was enough, and more than enough. It was everything I had needed for so, so very long.
When the rest of them walking behind came for us, I barely raised my stick against them. I would have stood still and let them take me if it hadn’t been for the children.
As it was, I gave them a moment or two’s head start before I fell. It was what my wife would have wanted, long ago.
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