I walked up to the door in a familiar neighbourhood. These where the streets of my childhood. This was where I had grown up, fallen in love and been left heartbroken. These were the streets that I had sworn to protect.
On these streets lived the people I promised to protect, people whose names I still knew. On these streets lived my friends and some of my best memories, but now…things were different. I had come back for another reason. A sadder purpose. All my life I had made others laugh. That was what I was good at. Then I was told of my duty. I had to be the one. The harbinger of woe, the bearer of calamity.
War always changed things. No matter how we tried. No matter what we did. War always changed us. We tried to hold on to our ideals, our morals, but War was determined to take away the things that meant the most to us. I gave myself because I thought I had nothing to lose, yet, I found myself mourning a loss not of my own.
He had once been a good friend. Perhaps even my best friend, but things changed. It was a girl. It was always a girl. I loathed and despised him for being better than me, for being the one that she ultimately chose. I loved her. She could do no wrong in my eyes. So it had to be him. He had to bear the brunt of my anger.
Days turned to months as we continued to drift apart. How could he know how I felt? I had been alone for so long. When I found her, I had been the happiest man alive. How could he know how it felt to lose all of that in a heartbeat? As he took my place, he took my happiness and the anger inside of me grew. He still valued me despite it all. He still thought of me as a friend. I tried to let the feelings pass. I tried to pretend I was not still bitter, but I was. I loved her, but it wasn’t his fault.
The last time I had walked up to her door was to take her to prom, the night she left me. I was overwhelmed with emotion as I approached the door. I knew I had been wrong to be angry with him. He had the right to be happy. He had been so alone. He deserved to be forgiven. He deserved an apology.
I rang the doorbell and waited. I heard the bark of a dog, the laughter of children and her melodic voice.
“Hello,” she answered coming to the door, her eyes twinkling.
“Mrs. Madison,” I began.
“Tony?” she interrupted, “How long has it been?”
“I’d say about fifteen years,” I said dryly.
“What brings you ’round to these parts?” she simpered in her beautiful southern accent.
“Well, you see, I-” I began again.
“Come inside, make yourself comfortable. Lucy, please fetch us some scones and iced tea,” she called leading me into her parlour.
“Anna, please…” I said, trying to bring some professionalism back.
“Tony…look. I never got the chance to apologize to you. I know I hurt you real bad, but you gotta understand, David made me feel things that you could just never…well…I’m sorry,” said Anna, her feelings spilling out.
“Anna…that’s not what I’m here about,” I said quietly.
Lucy brought in the scones and iced tea before disappearing again.
“You’d better take a scone and explain then,” said Anna sitting down across from me, holding a plate out to me.
I nodded and took the plate, taking a bite before starting, “Anna, it’s about David. I-I’m not sure how to tell you.”
Anna shook her head, her curls bouncing against her face, her eyes wide with terror, “No, please.”
“I’m so sorry Anna. After all these years, after all this regret, I’m so sorry I have to be the one to bring you this news,” I continued quietly.
Tears welled up in her eyes as she pressed her hand to her mouth, suppressing a sob. I leaned across the table and handed her my handkerchief.
“How?” asked Anna, her voice cracking.
I shook my head, “I don’t know. I don’t know how they knew we were coming. Someone must have told them, tipped them off.”
Anna just kept looking, waiting for an answer. I struggled with myself. How could I put it gently?
“His plane went down over Germany. We don’t know if he survived,” I said at last.
“If he did, the Germans would have captured him right?” asked Anna.
Anna bit her lip, “And…is there a chance he could have escaped?”
I shook my head, “I don’t know Anna. I-”
Lucy reappeared at the doorway, “I’m sorry Mrs. Madison, but there’s a gentleman at the door for you. Says he needs to talk to you urgently.”
Anna stood, drying her eyes with the handkerchief. She reached out for my sleeve, “Tony, come with me.”
I nodded and followed her to the door.
“David?” asked Anna bewildered.
“DAVID!” she screamed running to him.
He wrapped his arms around her wordlessly watching me. I approached him with a nod.
“It’s good to have you back buddy” I chuckled.
“It’s good to be back,” he returned grinning.
Prompt: You are a military officer responsible for going to people’s homes to tell them that a family member has died in combat, is a prisoner of war, injured, missing in action, and the like. Describe one of the notification scenes.