He sat at the table outside the cafe smoking his second cigarette and sipping his coffee. He had only been there for ten minutes but it seemed like an eternity. The question he kept trying to push out of his head continued to echo through his whole being. “Will she show up?”
She was just a baby the last time he saw her. Getting on that plane to go to Vietnam was the hardest thing he had ever done. But he was a Marine and Marines went where they were ordered – duty always came first. His wife cried – their one year old marriage was so fragile. She couldn’t understand why he had to go. He held her – she held their daughter – their hearts breaking as the final boarding call was announced.
It was not long before he was in the thick of things. He was losing his men so often that writing to their loved ones to tell them of their bravery was beginning to take it’s toll. But it was his duty – and duty always came first.
Then it happened. He was captured and suddenly faced the horrors of being a prisoner of war. He wondered what the letter would say when his wife received the news. Funny the things that come to mind when you don’t know what to think.
Four years later, he came home and learned the horrible truth. His wife had divorced him and moved away with his daughter. Broken both physically and emotionally, he was medically discharged, moved in with his parents, and got a position as a janitor at the high school. This once brave leader of men was now in charge of mops, brooms, and toilet brushes – duty always came first.
The years slipped by. His parents passed and he now lived alone. So, the call surprised him. She seemed hesitant at first and he was about to hang up when she said, “I’m your daughter.”
Now he sits lighting his third cigarette. Suddenly, he feels eyes staring – almost screaming for him to look. Those eyes – he would never forget those eyes – it is her. Slowly, he forced himself to his feet. Unsure of what to do, he extended his hand. But she ran and threw her arms around him. Tears rolled down his cheeks when she spoke.