The Light in the Jar
The Light in the Jar
(written in December 1993)*
When the men returned from the war on that glorious Summer’s day, it was as if the town let out a huge sigh of relief as if a heavy burden had been shed. There was much to celebrate; the war was over and the town’s men had returned home, not as the young, naive men they’d once been but as praised heroes. Dedicated young men who had given their all on the battlefields to defend king and country. Everybody in the town was too engrossed in their own personal joy and excitement that nobody had noticed the single solitary figure sitting on a park bench and staring off into the unknown.
Gretchen barely noticed the commotion going on around her, she was too caught up in her own sorrowful feelings to have paid much attention. She had received a letter just last week from the force: her husband had died defending the beliefs of the country and all citizens everywhere were grateful for her husband’s contribution – and, it appeared, his life. She had gone numb. Gary was gone. She had been unable to comprehend the reality of the situation, she had refused to allow herself to believe it, living in a state of denial enabled Gretchen to carry on pretty much as usual.
That is, until today. Today, for the first time since she got the news, did she realise that never again was she to experience the love and devotion that had so easily oozed from a person like Gary. Her Gary.
She felt angry, she felt so angry. At these young men for returning home, at the State for not having the backbone to fight its own battles, at the enemy that had so blatantly destroyed everything she believed in, everything she held dear.
The bench was becoming hard and cold but she remained there motionless for a long time. She was now at least able to think clearly. Acceptance of the facts had enabled her to think more clearly, to consider what was to be done next. Gretchen realised that the tears were streaming down her face, she was unaware of how long she’d been crying but she was exhausted and her eyes felt puffy. Her heart was sore ans she could not bear to think of the future devoid of Gary, the one person who had always been there for her, never let her down – until now.
Someone came up behind her and put his hand on her shoulder. She started, she’d been alone for so long, she’d been so engrossed in her own thoughts that she’s forgotten where she was for a minute. She looked up and peered into Gary’s face. Only it wasn’t Gary even though this man was from the same gene-pool: it was Gary’s younger brother. He had not yet changed out of his uniform, he seemed a little out of place; such a stiff formal figure against the serene backdrop of the park.
“Come Gretchen, come home with me. We’ll talk.”
Gretchen stood up and placed her hands protectively over her stomach. Gary’s body may be dead but his love and his spirit was growing ever larger and ever stronger inside of her. Through this child, Gary would always be there, watching over her, guiding and protecting her.
With this in mind, she got a brief glimmer of the future which now looked vaguely bearable. Gary had meant the world to her, he was her entire life but she knew he’d loved her and she knew that no matter where she was or what she was doing, Gary would always be there, stretching out a guiding hand and leading the way for her and their unborn child.
*I have transcribed this exactly as I wrote it all those years ago – not yet out of my teens – please excuse all the obvious errors. It was inspired by the song Borderline by Chris de Burgh.