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Genre: War or Peace
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He Is Home

J. Paulette Forshey

He returns from the war to the same old homestead. Nothing has changed. Momma still does her washing by hand; scrubbing, wringing, hanging out on a line. Little brother does the chores now he used to do… the milking, feeding the cows, helping Poppa with the team and the plowing.

He sees Sarah out feeding the chickens. A chuckle slips out as she fends off the old red rooster. He thinks, "She handled that old bird just as Momma would."

Slowly, ever so slowly, he makes for the house. What tales he'll be able to tell at supper tonight. The sights and sounds of the big cities, here… and over there. He'll tell Momma about machines that do the washing all by themselves. He'll tell of store-bought milk and processed meats. White eggs -- not brown -- line the shelves.

Poppa will be pleased with the ready-made cigarettes. Knowing Poppa, they'll be saved for special occasions.

In the kitchen, Momma is first to see him. Her firstborn! She sent him into the world a green man-child …and a man came back; always, in her heart, still a small child. Her hands ache. She looks down, sees she has been gripping the dishpan's edges ever so tightly.

Straightening, she tucks a loose strand of hair back in place. With the back of her hand, she wipes tears from her face.

On the front porch and down its steps, she pauses on the last. He sees her and, like her, he pauses, too. He tries to stand a little taller.

"Momma," he whispers. He knows she won't ask, only waiting 'til he can tell. Both smile bravely.

Up the steps, into the house, a mother and son. She in faded calico. He in military blue. Pants pressed smartly, one pant leg neatly folded and pinned.

He is home.

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