Luke sat in the dead center of the couch eating a bowl of cereal while Spongebob’s loud, obnoxious voice played loudly over the T.V. His abandoned Thomas the Train play set pieces lay scattered on the floor and I was rushing around the house trying to find all the ***** laundry from the past week.
“Luke, where did you put your black t-shirt?”
He sat unmoving, his eyes glued to Spongebob. He reminded me of one of those green zombies from his favorite ******-Doo movie that I’d seen too many times.
“Luke.” I said, and he looked at me. “Where did you put your black shirt?”
“What black shirt, daddy?” he asked in his small, seemingly innocent voice.
“The ‘army’ one that Mommy got you when she came home last time,” I explained. “If you want me to wash it, I have to know where it is.”
He looked around the living room, “I don’t know, Daddy.”
Letting out a sigh, I went walking about the house, grabbing mismatched socks, and other clothes that he’d thrown while getting ready for bed the last few nights. Tossing the clothes in the hamper sitting on the table, waiting to be taken downstairs to the washer, I went to look down the hallway.
The black t-shirt in question was one of Luke’s absolute favorites. He tended to throw a sort of tantrum when he wanted to wear it and couldn’t find it. At the moment it seemed to be hiding. Looking around the cluttered house, I noticed something balled up in a corner of the hallway. Thrown against the wall, laying on the floor, was the missing t-shirt. I bent over and picked it up. The doorbell rang.
“Daddy!” Luke yelled from the other room, “the door.”
“Don’t answer it,” I said, coming back into the living room, still carrying the black keepsake. “I found your shirt by the way.”
His face lit up with a smile that seemed to say he’d known all along where it had been. I smiled and opened the door. My face quickly fell when I saw the two officers standing in their dress blue uniforms, presenting a soldierly appearance outside on the front step. I dropped Luke’s shirt.
“May we come in Mr. Reynolds?” one asked.
I swallowed hard, and shook my head.
“Luke, can you go play in your room for a little bit?”
I watched him scoot off the couch, taking a couple trains from his play set and head down the hallway. The stoic look set across the soldier’s faces said everything that needed to be said. It only took ten minutes of awkward mumbling and they left, closing the door behind them. I sat on the couch and buried my head in my hands. Luke came into the living room.
“Daddy?” Luke asked. “Is Mommy coming home?”
I wiped some tears from my eyes, took him in my arms and hugged him tight.
“It’s okay, Daddy. Mommy’s a hero. Right?” he asked.