Hey, everyone. Autumn is in full swing, and it’s my favorite time of the year. Of all the seasons, I think this one is the one that seems to bring about the most change—the cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and migrating birds. While we haven’t yet had “frost on the pumpkin” in Texas, it’s only a matter of time.
Like the changing seasons, it’s time for me to refocus on writing. That means less reading, fewer book reviews, and an occasional WIP Wednesday post.
For a couple of years now, I’ve wanted to write and publish a book of short stories. I put the project on hold last year to focus on House of Sorrow and Cold Dark Night.
The short story project will be a mixture of genres, including mystery and suspense, contemporary fiction, and ghost fiction. Today I want to share an unedited excerpt of Coming Home (working title). I was inspired to write this after hearing the true story of a Vietnam Vet who went MIA in 1967. Fifty-two years later, his remains were identified and returned to his family.
I don’t normally write in first-person POV and certainly not in present tense, but it seemed the way to go for this story. There are scenes from the perspective of four different family members. Not only does a missing Navy aviator come home, but his “homecoming” becomes a time to mend family relationships.
Today’s excerpt comes from Brady, the youngest grandson of the fallen hero.
I didn’t want to come today. Having to see all the Navy brass, including my father and my “oh so perfect” older brother, only serves to remind me that I’m the black sheep of the family.
The only Atwood in four generations not to serve in the military. The only one who didn’t make good enough grades to be accepted into the Naval Academy.
The only one who didn’t give a damn, but I’ll never admit that to anyone, least of all my father.
A large group of spectators stands behind a chain-link fence adjacent to the runway. Some wave American flags, while others sport banners that read “Welcome home, Lieutenant Atwood.” A few take photos with their cell phones. News reporters are gathered in a designated area.
Vietnam is something I read about in the history books. An unpopular war that happened a half-century earlier. Many of those watching today weren’t even born at that time. It’s hard for me to understand their fascination. I’m here only because my family expects it. Don’t these people have anything better to do? Surely the local news station has more interesting stories to cover.
As the jet carrying my grandfather’s remains rolls to a stop, I see my family standing off to the side. They’re all here—Dad, Mom, Chris, his wife Faith, their children, Aunt Grace, and her husband. Despite the warm October day, my father dons a three-piece suit. My mother, ever the tasteful dresser, wears a short-sleeve black dress.
Chris wears his dress blues. I can’t help but notice he has had additional ribbons added since the last time I saw him. There’s also another stripe on the sleeve of his uniform, signifying his promotion to full lieutenant.
I suddenly feel out of place in my short-sleeved polo shirt and chinos.
Mom glances in my direction. She nods, ever so slightly. I’ve put it off long enough. Ignoring the queasiness in my stomach, I walk the short distance to stand beside her.
Hope you enjoyed today’s post. And don’t think badly of Brady. He has some lessons to learn, but he’s a good guy.
Also, I’ve resumed my newsletter. My plan is to send one every other month, with the next one in early December. If you’d like to receive updates, enter your address in the form located on the sidebar.