Patriotic Duty, 1942
"What about me?" I keep asking Billy. "What about me?"
It's another hot, muggy evening. Me and Billy are out on the porch, swattin' at skeeters and talking. I'm wearing as little as I can without getting arrested, but Billy's so keen on his plans he hardly notices.
He used to notice. I remember when he couldn't keep his hands off me. No matter where we'd go in his dad's Ford, we'd always end up at the quarry. I remember the first time I let him take off my top. You'd think the boy had never seen breasts before, the way he looked at me with his dark eyes glistening in the moonlight. He wouldn't admit it, but I knew they were full up with tears of joy.
He told me then he wanted to marry me and give me a house load of kids. Eight, maybe nine, is what he said.
"Whoa," I told him. "You have any idea what it would be like feeding that many?"
"I don't care," he said. "I'll work all day and we'll make love all night."
So how come now, just six months married, he wants to go off to war?
"It's my patriotic duty," he tells me. "The Japanese attacked us."
"You mean if you don't play soldier, the Japs are gonna come here to Rockville, Missouri, and take this ratty old house away from us? Maybe we should let them," I say. "One summer, and they'll go crawling back to wherever they came from."
Billy doesn't even laugh. His eyes are far away.
I bet he expects me to wait for him, although he could be gone for years. Or maybe he'll never come back. The thought makes me shiver, even though it's so damn hot.
This isn't the time to tell him about his baby that's growing inside me. I don't want him to stay just because he's going to be a father.
"What about me?" is all I can think of to say. "What about me?"
Wayne Scheer has published hundreds of short stories and essays, including, Revealing Moments, a collection of twenty-four flash stories, available at http://www.pearnoir.com/thumbscrews.htm. He's been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes and a Best of the Net.
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