This short story was inspired in part by a challenge I gave (and did myself) on the Holy Worlds writing forum. The challenge was to write a short story of less than 1,000 words about love without ever using the word love. It was also inspired, as I mentioned on Thursday, by Rebekah Lyn’s book Jessie, but since anything I say about how her book inspired my story would be giving away some big spoilers, I’ll just say that if you read Rebekah’s book, you’ll understand.
My heart pounded and my palms started to sweat at the sight of him. It had been months since we had last seen each other. My first sight of him was from across the room. I was in one corner and he was in another. The room was packed with people and I knew I would never be able to reach him.
All I wanted to do was say “Hi”. I couldn’t even send him a quick text because my phone was dead. Not that I wanted to. If I was to talk to him while we were in the same room together, I wanted to do it face to face and with my mouth.
As I stared at him and memorized the features on his face, his head started to turn my direction. I was about to panic when his eyes suddenly met mine and my brain forgot to tell my lungs to breathe. The slight smile on his face grew until it seemed like it would fall right off his face.
He started to move toward me, his eyes never leaving mine as he started to weave his way through the crowd. He’d always been tall and had sometimes resented that, but now, I was very glad that he was so tall. It meant that he could see me and I could see him while he made his way through the mass of people.
I was rooted to my designated one foot square of the carpet. His eyes told me how much he had missed me. He had missed me even more than I had missed him—which only made sense since he’d been overseas fighting a war he didn’t believe in. His left sleeve hung empty from the elbow down, but he didn’t seem to even notice. Even I barely noticed.
His handsome face was still the same. His features perfectly chiseled, just more tanned. The muscles under his shirt seemed to show up more. The shirt wasn’t even tight. In fact, as he came closer, I could tell that his shirt was actually on the baggy side. How was it then, that I could see the outline of the extra muscles on his arms and chest? He’d always been fit as a fiddle and muscular to boot, but now it was even more pronounced than ever.
Five more feet. I swallowed hard. Would he be able to give me a proper hug without one of his arms? Four more feet. The palms of my hands were clammy and started to shake. Three more feet. He was limping. He hadn’t mentioned a leg injury. Maybe he’d gotten some shrapnel in his leg, too, just not as bad as his arm.
Two more feet. If I reached out, I could have almost touched him, but my arms refused to work. One more foot. He stopped and tears sprang to my eyes as his good arm reached out toward me. I took a shaky breath and took the final step toward him.
The room seemed to fade away, the people going with it. All the people, that is, except for him. My two arms started toward him as if in slow motion and began to make a circle around his chest. I still wasn’t as tall as he was. His one arm shook as it moved toward me, his knees bending just a little so he could put his arm around my shoulders.
My arms suddenly made contact with his body and we both collapsed into each other, crying and hugging unashamedly, not even noticing the other hundred people in the room.
“You’re home, Will,” I whispered. “You’re really, truly home.”
“Did you ever doubt that I wouldn’t come home?”
I took half a step backwards, still clinging to him. “No, Will, I didn’t.” I paused. “Well, maybe a little. Especially in that month you didn’t write.”
Will pulled me tightly to him and put his mouth to my ear. “I’m home now, Little Brother. And I ain’t going back. I’m home until the Lord takes one or both of us to be with Him.”
“Thank You, Lord for bringing my brother home safe to me,” I whispered in a shaky voice.
“Yes, thank You, Lord, for bringing me home to my brother and for keeping us both safe while I was gone.”