A young woman, with a black suitcase in hand, hurriedly stumbles down a busy Chicago sidewalk. As like anyone who’s so consumed in business, she bumps into people like they don’t exist and walk by popular venues without even a glance. All she focuses on is her and her client’s business.
Every day she runs to client to client, trying to fulfill their needs as efficiently and as punctually as possible. In the business world time lingering is money unearned. She is climbing to the top; there is no time to glance or apologize for a mistake with a stranger.
All of a sudden she stopped. In 5 minutes she has to meet with a client; she would arrive just with a minute to spare if she continues walking. But knowing this, she still abruptly stopped.
Her heart skipped a beat. Her head mechanically turned. Peering down an alley, all her thoughts and focus disappeared.
A man sat on a coat at the edge of the alley staring at the opposing wall. The woman’s eyebrow rose with curiosity. An unknown force compelled her legs to march to this man who wears a collared green shirt and black trousers.
There is something different about him. A figment of anguish encompasses him. She sees pass this illusion, yet she cannot place the feeling.
Is it melancholy?
Is it intense longing?
Is it fear?
Or perhaps he was fired so he sits pondering how he will tell his family; this would reasonably could fit with “this feeling” she is having.
Whatever it is, his pride for something bigger than himself recedes within him.
He turned to her. He had short, curly hair and a short, light scruffy beard.
His eyebrow popped up.
“Yes, Ma’am?” the man politely asks.
The woman stared into his deep brown eyes.
Again the man asked politely,
A long silence stalled the atmosphere around them. She was late, for the first time ever.
Finally she musters up a couple of words,
“Who are you?”
The man drops his head down and blankly stares at the cement. Another long pause follows.
Kneeling to the man’s eye level and in a gentle tone, she again asks,
“Who are you?”
She lays her suitcase against the walk the man is leaning against.
Slowly the man lifts up his head. This lady with long red hair, blue eyes, wearing an expensive business outfit is staring directly into his eyes. He wonders what is going on. He wonders why a beautiful business woman is staring at him. His sad brown eyes quickly glances into hers. A feeling in his gut overwhelms him. What’s this feeling, he wonders. Just as quickly as he glanced into her eyes, he again drops his head towards the pavement.
Sighing, he responds, “Ma’am–“
“I am sorry to intrude but I could not help but to notice you. I’m Army.”
She pauses for a moment and continues,
“Hm, I just wanted to know what’s the matter but I can just go.”
Life virtually freezes between them. Their expression and bodies seemingly dwell in a suspended animation. Only a minute passed by, yet time seemed as if it warped and drawn-out every second of that minute.
The dismayed man sighs, quickly glances up at her and hesitatingly replies,
“I am a Vietnam Veteran, James Hitchings. I served two extensively long tours. I was discharged a few weeks ago. I’m here because…”
He turns his head away. A few minutes pass by in silence.
She walks over to the opposite wall, sits against it, and faces directly towards the silent man.
“You were gone for a long time. Thank you for your service.”
James lifts his head; he bites his lip. That’s all he has wanted, to hear from someone. He wanted to hear his time in a war zone mattered.When he returned from the war his family treated him like he was just gone and came from getting groceries. He just wanted acknowledgement.
His eyes meet hers once again, this time his eyes full of tears. Amy smiles at him, an indentation mark on each of her cheeks crop up. All of a sudden he feels himself smiling back.
Author’s Notes: I am debating whether to continue this story or leave it with this hang off. I will update when I decide. Please always honor men and women who sered in combat whether or not you agree with where they served.