Chapter 1: Only Time Will Tell
large white brick house shimmered as if it was newly built; the fresh paint job
had revitalized the aging lot. Loose shingles hung over the edge, forgotten in
the remodel. A red and blue flag with white stars waved proudly in the warm May
wind. The recently planted yellow and red snap dragons revealed a stone path
towards the wooden front door. A large
hedge wrapped around the property, cutting it off from the busy streets
Gripping the handle of the large green sac so tightly that his knuckles turned white, he took a deep breath. The man ran his other hand across his newly shaved head. The crisp camouflage uniform fit perfectly, making him look like a soldier prepared for battle. All of it was very precise, right down to the name tag which read; Jacob Scott. Looking down at the stone walkway as he made his way towards the door, Jacob thought about how his life was only minutes away from changing. As he reached the front of the house, he turned the brass knob and walked inside.
Once inside, he took a moment to reflect on the hard work he had put into fixing up the old house, making it a more suitable environment for him and his wife. Jacob tossed the cargo bag on the small bench at the front entrance. He dragged his feet all the way down the long hallway, across the wooden floor, dreading having to reveal this awful truth to his wife; it would forever change their relationship.
“Charlotte?” Jacob asked with a hint of worry in his deep voice.
“I’m in the kitchen, dear,” she quickly responded, the light melody of her voice made him tense. How could he tell her? He took another deep breath, trying to compose himself. He stood in front entrance of the kitchen.
She stood at the counter, her favourite apron wrapped around her thin waist. Her long sandy blonde hair tied up into a thick ponytail at the base of her neck. Charlotte had not turned her head to see her husband, hearing him home was more than enough; she had waited all day to talk to him after the interesting events that had occurred. Jacob watched as she lifted a tray and slid it into the oven, closing it quickly so he could not see.
“What are you making?” he asked, the sweet aroma teasing his nostrils.
“It’s a surprise, so you’ll just have to wait.” She smiled.
She walked over to the sink, washed her hands then dried them on the orange terrycloth. Charlotte turned to face him, noticing the uniform that Jacob was wearing. Jacob watched his wife’s face dropped, her eyes lost their sparkle as she took it in. Her eyes almost always sparkled when she looked at him. Her arms came to rest over her stomach, muscles contracting. She kneaded her lip between her teeth, struggling to find the words.
“I know, I don’t want to leave you,” Jacob spoke apologetically, fidgeting with a small white envelope in his hand. Not daring to look his wife in the eye, he gingerly handed it to her. She unfolded the letter with her small ivory hands. Unable to watch as she read, he stared at the counter, the very counter that he and his wife had tiled together no more than two months ago. Charlotte’s eyes fluttered from the letter back to her husband. As her hand dropped to her side, he looked up, despair evident in his eyes. She looked at him, biting her lip to damn the tears that were threatening to overflow from her blue eyes. ‘But, you can’t go’; a desperate plea she did not voice.
“When did you first know?” Charlotte whispered as she looked her husband straight in the eye. He had kept major news from her. Still holding the letter, she looked back down as she waited for his response.
“Last month.” Jacob replied quickly. “Char, I didn’t know how to tell you.” She was staring right at him as he spoke; it was like she was looking through him. He wished this letter had never come. The conscription, the war; these were not things he should have been a part of.
“You can’t leave us- me” her voice wavered over the words, how could this happen to them?
“I thought we had more time. Training got moved up, I leave tonight.”
“No, you can’t just leave! What about us?”
“Charlotte, we’re going to be just fine. I love you, you’re my wife.”
Buzz. The stove alarm sounded. She jumped, turning around. Pulling the pair of sunflower oven mitts down, she carefully tugged down on the handle of the stove. The sweet smell of chocolate and peanut butter spread throughout the kitchen. Jacob watched as Charlotte gently lifted the tray and placed it on the open counter space. Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies were Jacob’s favourite, Charlotte absolutely hated those cookies.
“You only make those cookies, when you have something to tell me... what’s wrong?” He asked as he wondered what on earth could happen now.
Charlotte stood with her back facing him, looking down at the counter. A tear ran down her cheek as she thought about telling him. He was leaving tonight. Whether she told him or not, it wouldn’t change anything. He was still going away; he was leaving for the war. The likelihood of him returning home was slim to none.
“Charlotte you can tell me.” Jacob spoke softly as he waited for her response.
“These cookies that I made were to celebrate,” Charlotte muttered only loud enough that Jacob could catch the last word.
“Celebrate? Celebrate what?” Jacob asked, obviously confused.
“I need you to promise to me that you’ll come home. I want our child to have a father.” Charlotte spoke in a firm voice as she turned her entire body to face him. Her body was still tense, her arms placed protectively across her chest. Her bright eyes pierced through him.
“You’re pregnant?” Jacob asked as his eyes lit up with joy.
His heart was telling him to stay. He was going to be a father; he was going to have a beautiful child to love and provide for. How could he just leave them?
“Our whole world is crashing down because of this war. You may not come home.” Charlotte said, raising her eyes to meet her husband’s.
“Don’t talk like that; I hate the fact I have to leave you, even more so now.”
“Our whole relationship is changing, our child needs you. I need you. Don’t leave me.”
“Charlotte, you’re strong enough without me. I have great faith that you will raise our child properly with or without me.”
He knew in his heart that she would be a great mother; he grasped her hand in his. Looking deeply into her eyes, and thought about forgetting all about the war, maybe running off to Canada together to get out of this crazy conscription.
“I would do anything to stay here with you.” He whispered. Jacob led her down their wooden hallway to the front entrance. His time was almost up, as a small black car pulled up in front of the house.
“I want you to stay so badly, but I know your stubborn pride won’t let you”
“My heart wants to stay; but I must serve my duty. I’m sorry, baby.”
“Jacob if you don’t come home, I swear to God!”
“You keep this house, okay? Promise me that,” he said as leaned forwarded on his toes kissing her smooth forehead for a moment before he felt her small warm arms wrapping around him, hugging him tightly. He placed a hand protectively over her stomach before slowly pulling away, swinging the large green bag over his shoulder. He paused in the doorway, thinking about all the reasons to stay before he actually took a step out the door, down the pathway to his certain fate.