American Chimera – 6.2

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Summer break don’t mean jack diddly anymore. Even so, the Fifth Geneva Convention ended on the 18th of June that year, and most schools let out on the 19th. Loved ones who had been fighting in the wars were coming home, and a national day of mourning was declared.

I suppose that kind of response is what you get when most of the poor sots returning from the front are the final kids and grandkids of people who’d since been sterilized. It was the last generation of expendables, so a war was inevitable, really.

’Cause my close relatives hadn’t had a kid since my little brother was born back in ’53, I didn’t know none of our soldiers comin’ back from the front. I ’preciated their sacrifice to keep me free, but that’s ’bout as far as it went. I also ’preciated that Janie, who’s just this absolute computer whiz, got outta bein’ old-fart-drafted on account of her finishin’ up school. So I was s’prised when Dani asked if she could go to Fayetteville and see the first wave of soldiers comin’ back.

I put down my Coke – I didn’t have Pepsi then, prob’ly ’cause of a sale – and squinted at ’er real good. “Why’d yeh wanna do that for?”

“Stacy’s aunt is comin’ back in the first wave, Daddy. She asked me if I wanted to come with her to Fayetteville tomorrow – she’s got passes to enter, and her Mama already said yes.”

I sucked in my gut and held my breath. Stacy probably hadn’t realized what Dani was, not yet. I wasn’t sure about Dani, myself. “You sure you got her Mama’s permission?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

“I’m gonna have to give ’er a call, without you spyin’ on me, and make sure she knows what she said yes to. Then we’re gonna have to wait ’til yer Mama comes home to figger this out.” I stood from the couch and headed over to my bedroom. She follered me, and I reckon she might’ve put an ear against the door to listen, but she’s normally too well-behaved for any of that mess.

I hope she weren’t listenin.’ It would shatter her little heart, and I needed to break the day’s news to her more… personally.

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