Stanley sits on the boulder watching the snow flutter to the ground. He leans over his knees. He can find nothing pretty about it. Nothing to distract him from the chaos surrounding him. He’s never seen snow before. He imagined it to be silent and still after landing. Beautiful. Not this moving blanket of icy slop. He shivers under his heavy wool greatcoat, jerking the collar up to cover his neck. Digging into a pocket he pulls out a slim case, its silver finish, razor-sharp and shining. A sweetheart’s parting gift.
Unclasping it he removes a smoke and sticks it to his lip. Her delicate perfume tickles his nose. Floral and fresh. His chest squeezes.
Her heart-shaped face and dark lips smiling at him from the picture. Wavy tresses resting on her shoulders. He imagines her hair in his hands; silky smooth, smelling of rose. Her voice in his ear when she sings; as thick as honey. A single image of her filling his every sense, driving his urge to go home. Will she wait for me?
‘Smile Stan!’ Bud Randall waves wildly from the top of a rock.
“Yeah, righto.’ Stan leans back, kicks his legs out and poses.
‘Bewdy!’ Bud positions the camera to his eye, is still, and then jumps down into the slush, moving on.
Marching into Hiroshima was punishing. Brutal, compared to the familiar ravaging Mallee summers. No warmth here. He was missing the sunset’s golden glow on his face. Missing the slow pop of stars, appearing one by one, and then a plethora of them, filling the sky as it bleeds violet into indigo. Slipping the photo out he smiles and kisses the girl in the image. His fingers caress her hand written words, before sliding her back into the silver case.
I’m coming home to you.
He hands a timber box to his daughter. ‘This’s yours. You’re the eldest Grandchild. They’d have wanted you to have it.’
The box blurs in her hands.
He places a hand on her shoulder. ’Go on.’
She inhales, lifting the lid. Inside, a small frame holds a monochrome picture. Clear and crisp. A young man leans back on a huge boulder, legs outstretched, crossed at his boots, dark hair slicked and cigarette dangling from his lip.
‘That’s Pop!’ Instantly recognising her young grandfather.
‘Yes. In Japan.’
‘He’s so young.’
‘Yep, only seventeen in that. Lied about his age.’
Removing the frame, a thin silver case appears. Collecting it, she gently presses its clasp. It snaps open easily and the image of a young woman with rushes of dark hair, her familiar soft and doughy frame, wearing a long tailored jacket, white socks and string of beads, smiles back.
‘That’s Gran!’ She flips it over, and reads the faint letters and words scribed purposely across the back.
‘I.T.A.L.Y. To Stan, with love Margaret xxxx.’ Her eyes meet her fathers’. ‘Italy?’
‘I’m Thinking About Loving You.’
‘Oh, and she did Dad. They both really did.’
This is a little bit of fast fiction based on two items that have been passed down to me.
A picture of my Pop while in Japan, and a silver cigarette case that holds a small picture of my grandmother.
It’s pure fiction based on a couple of small facts.
Make sure you turn the teapot twice clockwise and once anticlockwise!