When I was little, my father once told me that during the war, the one after the one they said would end all wars, he used to kneel at the window in the dark and scan the night sky for enemy planes.  You knew who was the enemy back then.  You knew where he lived, too.  Even so, and even though the war was fought on enemy soil, as their countries were called, it was still awfully scary.  So if something woke you in the middle of the night, or if you just couldn’t sleep, you couldn’t help it, you’d find yourself at the window, watching the sky and wondering what if.

When I began to cry, he put his arm around me and pressed me close.  I could smell his aftershave and feel the smoothness of his white shirt against my skin.  “Just listen to your mother,” he said, “and you’ll be safe.”

Like my father so many years ago in what now seems like a simpler time, in what now seems like another world altogether, I, too, can’t help watching the sky and wondering what if.    Only now, you watch in  broad daylight.  And now I know for sure that the terrible things you worry about are almost never the ones that happen.

From FALL GUY, A Rachel Alexander Mystery, 2004nineeleven 005

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