Counting The Days (story by R.C. Peris)

Day 443. I mark it in my journal next to a list. I need to buy eggs. I have to do the laundry. I need to care for my baby. Jack’s baby. He’s never met his baby. Last I heard from a letter two weeks ago he was alive, somewhere in France, and fighting Germans. Still. This war was supposed to be quick. It’s dragging on. Both sides are digging into the trenches like rats.

Day 455. The morning is bright. Sarah is crying. I give her a bottle. My engagement ring nicks the crib as I pull her out. Jack bought it with part of his inheritance. Then we got this house. We were together in this house for three months until he left for the war.

Day 461. The days feel so long. No word from Jack or the War Office. I remember when he kissed me. It was so sloppy. I laughed. Jack was embarrassed. We kept working on it. Eventually, a tide of feeling overtook me.

Day 464. I can’t do this anymore. Wait. Pondering his death while I fry bacon. We went to Dover for our honeymoon. We had a picnic and laughed on the White Cliffs.

Day 468. If I didn’t have Sarah I would end things. War is brutal on the people left behind.

Day 471. A terrible headache. I bathed Sarah and then collected the mail. There was a letter from the War Office. It was in a different envelope than the letters from Jack. My hand shook. The waiting was over. I stuffed the letter in my pocket. I felt better. I really did. I no longer had to count the days.

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