Keepers of the Flame
Life's a balloon
That tumbles or rises
Depending on what is inside
Fill it with hope
And playful surprises
And oh, dearie ducks
Then you're in for a ride…
"No Where to Go But Up"
It was about time that Jack got the letter. As much as their little family hoped that it wouldn't happen. Later, Jack thought that he was lucky enough to be able to spend ore time with his family during the war. Most men, like Angus got their letters within a week. Jack got a year.
The day started as most. Little Clara woke up her parents at dawn. They weren't sure how she got up that early. Perhaps Jack was rubbing off on her. He had woken up at dawn every day since he was a lad. Jane, however, tried to ignore her daughter. With another child on the way, Jane had gotten much more tired. Clara didn't understand why her mother refused to get up. She resorted to pushing her over. Jack took Clara's side and started pocking his wife which made Clara giggle and Jane groan.
"Why'd always take her side?" asked Jane, sitting up in bed.
"`Cause I'm cute!" Clara exclaimed.
Both parents laughed.
"That's right, mi luz," said Jack, "Come on, now. Time ta' eat." After seeing a look from Jane told him the last thing she wanted to do was eat breakfast he said, "It's all right, dear. Me and Clara will take care of it."
Jack hosted Clara onto his shoulders and they went into the kitchen. Jane watched them go. When she closed her eyes her thoughts drifted to the war. Michael had been drafted about three months ago. With the twins being only sixteen and Georgie fourteen, the Halls had moved in. Ellen still worked at their house, but it was her day off. Every day, Jane read about the battles going on. She scanned the articles for Michael's name. Even though they still received letters and such from him, Jane had to be careful. His children had already lost their mother. They couldn't lose their father as well.
Jane got up. She was sick of having to imagine that one day when she would look down at the paper and she would read: Michael Banks was a great honor to serve with. Let him rest in peace with his wife. She pulled on her robe and joined her family downstairs. On the table was a few letters waiting to be opened. The first one Jane picked her up gave her chills.
TO MISTER JACK HALL OF THE BANKS RESIDENCE
The return address was the government. Panic tore through Jane. No, this couldn't be happening. Not Jack. She needed her husband. Jack had provided for the family. He had kept his job as a leerie, but only made his night sift. Jack had become a teacher at the local schoolhouse. Jane had a part time job at the same school, teaching English Classes. Plus there was Clara to take care of. And another baby on the way. This was the worst time for him to leave. Jack could be killed or worse, kidnapped by the enemy.
"Um, Jack! You need to come here!" Jane called, lifting the envelope higher.
"What is it, love?" Jack wondered, coming into the room with Clara on his heals.
After seeing Jane's pained expression, Jack convinced Clara to go wake up Annabel. He took the letter from his wife's shaking hands. Jane watched as Jack open it and read what was inside. Once he was done, she asked,
Jack knew just what she ment. He nodded.
Her tears came flowing down her cheeks like a river escaping a dam. Jack had to go to war. The last place he belonged. He held her close to him. After a few minutes, Clara came downstairs with Annabel who was yawning. Clara took one look at the scene before her before questioning her parents.
"Mummy? What's wrong? Why you sad?"
Annabel noticed the letter clenched in Jack's hand. She no longer felt tired. Instead she was numb. First her own father now her uncle. All feeling left her body, leaving behind a lightheadedness. The smell coming from the kitchen was gone. She could barely feel Clara's hand in her own.
"Come on, Clara. Let's go see what's for breakfast," said Annabel, without any emotion in her voice.
"Clara, come on."
The two left, with Clara looking over her shoulder.
"How are we going to tell her?" Jane questioned. The sound of her voice cracking from her tears made Jack wince. "And what about your job? There's also the leeries. Don't forget about the baby on the way… You can't go, Jack. Ask them if you can get out of it. Please. I don't want to lose you, too."
"Shh, Jane. We'll figure it out. It'll be okay."
Nothing's gone forever. Only out of place.