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A Short Story - Perchance to Dream

Updated on September 12, 2015

Perchance to Dream


As he quietly watched her sleep, her slow breathing was suddenly punctuated by a tiny, feminine snore, something that had always amused him. On the north wall was her computer desk, with its tiny blinking lights. He had often wondered why electronic manufacturers included so many colored lights, even when their equipment is off. Maybe they just liked lights.

It was the same computer she had used to communicate with him while he did his tour in Afghanistan. It had a video camera built into the monitor, and he had been thrilled to see her face and that of the children all the way from his base. Her parents bought it for her when they learned about it, and without her asking. She was always too proud to ask, but her brother had let them know. She treasured it like a fine piece of furniture, and she was now using it to write. She had sold two articles to magazines, and her new enthusiasm made him smile. She needed that sort of thing, and badly.

Her red-gold hair fanned out over the pillow, while a stray, curled lock lay on her damp forehead. She had always perspired slightly as she slept, a trait she thought unfeminine. But there was nothing unfeminine about his Mary Jo.

He rose and walked down the hall to check on the children. He entered Jimmy’s room first, and his son was wrapped around Snuggles, his ragged and heavily patched teddy bear. At seven, he was on the borderline of deciding when to give up Snuggles and move up a notch in boyhood. But that could wait for later; there was no rush.

On the dresser was a model of an F-15 Eagle, the fighter his father had flown in Afghanistan, complete with the correct numbers and his father’s name in tiny letters. He smiled at that. He had wondered why Mary Jo had wanted to know those little details.

Mary was curled up at the foot of the bed again, but she was warmly dressed in her fuzzy, pink pajamas with feet, so it didn’t really matter. She had her mother’s red-gold hair, but it was curly, like his own. Her tiny lips were slightly parted, and a thin line of drool ran down her cheek and pooled on the sheets. She would be starting school in the fall. Where did the time go?

He glanced at the kitchen clock. Time to go, so he walked back to the master bedroom and stood over Mary Jo, watching her for one more, long sweet moment. Then he bent over and brushed her forehead with his lips. “See you tonight, my love,“ he whispered. For a moment, he thought he saw a faint smile cross her lips, and then he turned, padded down the hall, and out the door.

...

He stood silently with the others, rigidly at attention for the morning raising of the colors. Johnson was on his left as always, and Davis stood silently to his right. They watched as flag was raised to the top, and then lowered to half mast. The line saluted in perfect unison, as always, and then he felt himself passing through the green grass, sand and pebbles as he settled into the restful quiet of his military issue coffin.

“Tomorrow,’ he told himself, “will be another night.”

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    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Robert!

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 2 years ago

      Touching story. The fantasy ending was a real surprise.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Bella Nina.

    • Bella Nina profile image

      Bella Nina 5 years ago from USA

      Beautiful.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Eiddwen.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      Very sad ,and wow you are indeed some writer Will.

      I am so glad to be able to read your hubs,amazing without a doubt; and I am obviously not the only to think this-lol

      I vote up up and away.!!

      Take care Will and have a great day.

      Eiddwen.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Nadine.

    • Maggie-May profile image

      Nadine M AuCoin 6 years ago from the Island of Cape Breton to the Eastern Shores near Halifax, NS

      Oh Will, you got right in there and struck the heart cords--so very touching--so meaningful--these men are missed and surely do miss. A very lovely piece!!! Dying knowing they somehow saved their loved ones--made sure they are safe and sound--that's what makes sense to all those that do fight for their countries--I can wish it never had or has to happen..

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, quester.ltd, and thank you.

    • quester.ltd profile image

      quester.ltd 6 years ago

      This is a tribute to those men and women who have paid with their blood the 'line in the sand' that must be drawn from time to time.

      We need to always remember that our freedoms which are being erased as fast as DC can make them disappear were paid by our military since before this country was a country.

      Well done, Will.

      q

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Mike.

      This one is special tribute.

    • profile image

      Aka Professor M 6 years ago

      @WillStarr: This was an Outer Limits episode if I ever read one, Will! There are so many stories that sadly have ended in that fashion for families in the military these days.

      I hope that these stories will soon once again be only stories written by exception authors like yourself, my friend! Voted up and pushed all the buttons that apply here, Will! Regards Mike! (Aka Professor M!) ;D

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, thelyricwriter!

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 6 years ago from West Virginia

      Will, you have some of the best endings in Literature my friend. As always, I never saw it coming. Always worth the read. Voted up.

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I wonder how true it might be?

      Someday, we will know.

    • feenix profile image

      feenix 6 years ago

      Hello, Will,

      This short story is actually a big story and thank you very much for writing and publishing it. It is a beautiful tribute to the brave ones who make the ultimate sacrifice for this great nation of ours.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, LABrashear.

      Thank you for your kind comment.

    • LABrashear profile image

      LABrashear 6 years ago from My Perfect Place, USA

      Will- You have SUCH talent! This was amazing. Soldiers and military have a special place in my heart - this really hit me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your beautiful words!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, RealHousewife.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      WillStarr - this was nothing less than brilliant. This is one to be book marked. It is beautiful and beautifully written.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, marcoujor, and thank you.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Will,

      This made me feel reverent and peaceful that our loved ones do watch over us. Such a touching and comforting tale that brought rears to my eyes, beautiful.

      Voted UP & AB-- have a good weekend, mar.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hello, quester.ltd, and thank you!

    • quester.ltd profile image

      quester.ltd 6 years ago

      too many families with a parent visiting only in spirit - thanks you for remembering.

      q

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, september girl!

    • profile image

      september girl 6 years ago

      Beautiful story WillStarr. I didn't expect the ending. Made me want to cry. Voted up and awesome!! :)

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Barb.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      A lovely portrait. Thank you.

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, AEvans.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      What a touching story. Your characters are so colorful and you bring each one of them to life. What a wonderful short story. :)

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Barb. Good to see you.

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 6 years ago from Tucson, Az

      dadgumit Will I already cried once tonight and here I really am bawlin' !!

      but oh my what a wordsmith you are and what a wonderful teacher!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Diana, and thank you.

    • DTroth profile image

      Diana Owens 6 years ago from My Little Hole In The Wall, HubPages, USA

      Hey Mr Bill,

      I'm speechless. Yea, hard to believe, I know. I didn't anticipate the ending. You made me cry, cowboy. *sniff*

      Brilliant piece. Just brilliant.

      Voted Up, U, A & B

      Much love and many hugs, darlin',

      Diana

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I finally have gotten around to reading this. Just heart-wrenching and beautiful. Certainly worth the wait. Thank you so much for honoring our heroes.

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you very much, CMerritt.

    • CMerritt profile image

      Chris Merritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      What amazes me is that how you can take 500 words and make such a masterpiece. You did so much with so few words....beautiful stuff.

      You continue to show your brilliance....

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, femmeflashpoint, and thank you for the great comment.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Pollyannalana, and thank you.

    • profile image

      femmeflashpoint 6 years ago

      Awww Will .... you touched a nerve. I've attended more military services than I can remember, and each time I work one, I feel so deeply privileged to help with something that's always so terribly sad.

      I've been accused of showing favor to the military families, and to an extent that might be a bit true, because, they are 'my own'. However, I feel compassion and a desire to help for all families who've lost a loved one and are in my care.

      But, for our veterans, young and old, currently in action and former, there is a place in my heart that only they can reach.

      It is a sad, sad story, and yet .... beautiful. Thank you.

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US

      Wow, so unexpected...very good.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Truckstop Sally, and thank you.

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 6 years ago

      I agree with your previous followers. Beautiful . . . heartfelt . . . powerful . . . Now, to dream.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, rockdresses, and thank you.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Rosemay50.

    • rockdresses profile image

      rockdresses 6 years ago from Turkey

      Tomorrow will be another night. I like this word!

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      This poem sank so deep into my heart I can offer only one word 'Exquisite'

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hello, Hear Me, and thank you.

    • Hear Me profile image

      Hear Me 6 years ago from Somewhere in Florida

      As sad as this is I found it comforting in an way. To me, there is a sense of comfort knowing that our departed loved ones are still with us and watching over us. You told this story in a beautiful and very touching way.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, b. Malin, and thank you, dear.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 6 years ago

      Oh Will, how Beautiful and Sad, and Poignant...You handled this delicate subject of death so well...for the families and loved ones left behind. Thanks for sharing such a tender one. Voted UP my Friend.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, thougtforce,

      Some things are sad, and we must accept them, no matter how painful they may be.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      This hub was fantastic as usual but yet different! Although I loved the way you wrote this with every feeling described, it was almost too sad. I know it will stay in my mind for a long time. Great story as always!

      Tina

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, PenMePretty, and thank you.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Rosie,

      We miss seeing your cheerful face around here.

    • profile image

      PenMePretty 6 years ago from Franklin

      What a heart felt story. I am so sentimental...I could cry me a river. Only you.

    • Rosie2010 profile image

      Rosie Rose 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      OMG Will, this almost made me cry.. so touching. My heart feels very heavy, so maybe I'll go cry. As always, you are awesome, fabulously awesome.

      Have a nice day,

      Rosie

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, attemptedhumour,

      I'm afraid that man isn't made that way. There will always be tyrants willing to use force to dominate, and they will always triumph if we are not willing to rise up against them.

      The US was at peace on 9-11.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Annette, and thank you.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, LET, and thank you.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, writeronline, and thank you for the thoughtful comment.

    • attemptedhumour profile image

      attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

      You really do have a talent for intrigue Will. It's a sad story that affects so many families. I heard today that over six thousand US service men or women have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus many from other nations too. If only the world could find a better way to tackle these disputes. Cheers

    • thebluestar profile image

      Annette Donaldson 6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Will I love this side of your talent. You are a very gifted writer and I have admired you from afar for such a long time. You teach me so much Will, this is an awesome hub my dear friend. I always glad to follow where you lead. x

    • profile image

      Let 6 years ago

      Hi Will! that was beautifully written! u had me from the beginning to the end. i vivid description indeed. you made me sad.

      Keep up the good work.

      Love lots.. LET

    • profile image

      writeronline 6 years ago

      Great job as usual, Will.

      As others have said, the 9/11 context means the ending is almost anticipated from the start. But rather than lessening the power of the resolve, understanding early on the exquisite sadness of the story, based as it is in tragic reality for so many families, makes the end, when it comes, even more powerful. Like the crescendo in a stirring piece of orchestral music. Or the mournful Last Post by a solitary bugler.

      I didn't cry, but I didn't escape untouched either.

      A very powerful piece, one of your best, imho.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, thelyricwriter, and thank you for your kind words.

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 6 years ago from West Virginia

      This really makes you think Will. Well written also, as all your short stories are. You should be somewhere writing and being published. You certainly have a talent Mr. Will. Til next time.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Beth,

      I take that as a lovely compliment, coming from such a fine author.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Alastar Packer,

      Thank you for the kind words.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Genna East,

      Here is a father and husband whose only contact with his loved ones is while they sleep...and dream.

      Or is it his dream while he sleeps...forever?

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Movie Master,

      It was a reflection on today and how much it has cost us.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Almost forgot...I also liked the Hamlet reference "...perchance to dream."

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      O Wow Will. The story was just starting to really begin and then...Sir, you remind me of those great short story writers on the Alfred Hitchcock compilations. What a writing talent you are. Beautiful. Not spooky at all; but you write about the neighborhood very well.

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 6 years ago from Tennesee

      WillStar, what a beautiful story! I love your reads.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Ohhh…Will ; you got me, as you always do. Not only through the story but in the final moments that stir the heart, the imagination and take us there with your characters as if we were seeing, watching and feeling within them. Beautiful story and heart-rending tribute. Up, awesome, and much more.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      A real tearjerker, beautifully written.

      Thank you Will.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, SubRon7.

    • SubRon7 profile image

      James W. Nelson 6 years ago from eastern North Dakota

      OMG, Will, your writing ability! I started feeling tears long before the end because I somehow expected it, so at the end there was no stopping them. Thank you, sir, for so honoring our military.

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Fred,

      It's my 9-11 contribution.

    • profile image

      Ghost32 6 years ago

      Beautifully done, Will. I actually picked up on this one while Hub hopping, nearly went on past--then noticed the author's name.

      "Oh,okay," I thought. "If Will wrote this, it'll be worth reading."

      It was.

      Voted Up and all but Funny. Though I suppose for those who think Death is real, the joke is on them.

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Epi.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ....always a pleasure Sir Will - you are the quintessential writer's writer here in residence at the Hub!

      lake erie time 10:58pm ontario canada

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, G-Ma Johnson.

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 6 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      So different from your usual Western, but very well done, and a reminder to all "Ten Years have gotten behind you, no one told you when to to run, you missed the starting gun"...something like that in a song...

      May God Bless us all and all the brave ones's gone ahead of us...:O(

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, SusieQ42,

      We'll be praying for your son's safe return, and we thank him for his service.

    • profile image

      SusieQ42 6 years ago

      I was hoping this story wasn't going to have a sad ending...now look what you gone and did! Shame!!! This is sad, and now that my youngest son is going in the Marines I'm really not liking it! But I love ya anyways. Susieq

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Pamela99, for your kind words.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Cardisa, and thanks for reading.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, diogenes,

      We have a few electronic devices in our bedroom, and my wife covers up all the LED's because she like to sleep in a dark room.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Dusty,

      Yes, I had 9-11 in mind when I wrote it.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Sunshine625, and I agree.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Clairepeek, and thank you for your kind words.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      Beautifully, touching sad story that will haunt me for a while. Beautifully written.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      Oh No! You had me there for a while! He went to his own funeral, I can't believe it! You are so talented, I just love the gentle sway and build up with the mystery.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      You did it again, Wlll, just like "Ghost" On a more prosaic note, I have always wondered if there is some world-wide consipiracy at work by utility companies to ensure all electronic appliance manufacturers include lots of warning lights on the products. Must use a fortune in wasted power...Bob

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

      Will, a most excellent writing honoring the fallen and the families that remain. Sad but somehow, fulfilling. Voted up, as a fine hub and thoughtful as tomorrow is 11/11/11, ten years have passed seemingly too fast for me,

      Blessings,

      Dusty

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      The ones who serve are beyond impressive, they are truly phenomenal. Bless them all.

    • Clairepeek profile image

      Clairepeek 6 years ago

      Hi Will,

      This was an amazing read from start to finish. You have such a particular style that says more by saying less. You take the reader and put - in this case - her in the shoes of your character. From the first words I felt the atmosphere, the languor and love of that man for his family. The observation of every details... I agree with Mike, 5 stars rating... I was looking for the button "amazing" but did not find it. Thank you for this, it was a wonderful read.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Sunshine625. Thank you, but the truly impressive ones are those who serve.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, breakfastpop, and thank you for all you do in the cause of freedom.