First published as a part of a contest in The Clarity of Night
“Coffee?” He exclaimed, without waiting for my reply, then jived his way to the kitchen, a song on his lips. I smiled. The rugged terrain and the daily dance of death had failed to harden him.
I finished the painting with a smudge of blue. He joined me, holding his drink. For an infantryman fighting seven thousand miles away, a four-day trip back home was luxury.
After discussing his health, the kitties, and the weather, I told him about the divorce and Mark remarrying. Was he upset for being kept in the dark? His lips clipped with unsaid words. Was it the heat when he yelped at gulping a large sip of coffee?
Caffeine over, he was back to his ebullient self. “Let’s see how the masterpiece looks.” He placed the canvas on the wall. “I’m gonna steal this one once I start living on my own. Make sure you sign it.”
“It’s yours,” I said with a weak grin.
“Well, aren’t you a sweetheart?” He hugged me.
Then, he gave me the gift; two beautiful crystal lights. He positioned them at the ends of the chest, just below the painting.
Three days later, a day before his nineteenth birthday, I received his death notice. Today, he would have been twenty.
I stepped into the room that had remained unlit for a year. I turned on the two lights and glanced at the painting.
“May the light shine for you, my son,” I whispered, before a lump blocked my throat.