She sits clutching the medal to her chest; the rocking chair creaks a steady tattoo. I watch her cracked tongue peek out from her puckered and parched lips to wet them. She stares straight ahead, oblivious to the slow movement of the sun and the soft wind whispering through the open window and tousling her wispy white hair.
Only her scrawny and shriveled body shows the passage of time, her mind anchored to a lost youth. A soft smile creeps up her lips and cracks open her wrinkled face. Her cloudy irises sparkle with the inner world she inhabits, and the tiny embers of erstwhile beauty glow on the craggy skin around her sunken eyes.
I smile at the radiant young bride framed on the bedside table. Her long white dress is a brilliant flame in the monochromatic picture. Her husband stands beside her, strong and regal in his army uniform. ‘Elsa and Robert, April 1944’, scribbled in ink on the back of the photograph. Only I know those words are there, only I remember Elsa and Robert.
Another faint inscription written in soft pencil with a shaky hand snakes along Robert’s uniform sleeve: Killed in action, June 6, 1944.
The rocking chair stops and the creaking ceases. Her lips break into a wide smile as her head droops onto her shoulder. A haunting sigh escapes and her eyes close…
Beaming, I welcome my young and beautiful bride as she releases her mortal, withered shell and joins me in eternity.