Thank you to Alistair for Sunday Photo Fiction. To read more stories on this photo prompt click on the blue froggie.
So Far Away
You’ll see him on the median, wearing flannel, jeans, and red baseball cap. The cardboard sign says: will work for money or food.
He can repair anything. Even electronics. He doesn’t drink or do drugs. He went to Afghanistan at twenty-six, his entire life ahead of him and a baby on the way.
When he returned, he wouldn’t sleep in our bed. He stayed on the screened porch, nightmare-induced shouts plaguing sleep. The baby scared him. He wouldn’t touch her. I was mad until he whispered: “I’m afraid I’ll hurt her.”
One day he disappeared. Two weeks later, he reappeared, on the median with his sign.
“Remember us dancing in the rain after the May Day picnic?” I ask, handing him a thermos of coffee and a cheddar and pickle sandwich.
“You’re living in the past,” he says. “I’m not him.”
“I love you,” I whisper.
“You don’t know me.”
I want to argue I’ve known him since we were toddlers. He chews his sandwich, hunched, tense. Betrayed. A foot away from each other, but worlds apart, futility encroaches. I wrap my pinkie around his as I used to. “I love you more.” Tears glitter in his eyes.