What will your muse make if this photo?
John stood tall in his uniform. A few quick passes of his lint roller and the garments were flawless. The red stripe running down the sides of his deep navy pants highlighted the fact that there was no wrinkle, no errant crease. Razor sharp pleats galloped down the front of his leg, crisp enough to be severe in their appearance.
His black shoes shone as if they were lacquered, the brass of his buttons gleaming. He checked his collar one more time, adjusting it as heat flared up his neck in anticipation of his destination.
His eyes moved to the dresser, spotting the gold brooch with the single, lustrous mabe pearl in the center. He smiled as he lifted it, turning it in his hands. It belonged to his foster mother. She gave it to him when he joined up.
He’d kept it safe, somehow keeping it intact during his tour of duty. He’d returned, but wasn’t truly home. Not yet.
He fastened the pin to his chest above his medals, giving it a place of prominence. He tucked his stiff white hat with the dark brim under his left arm and turned to leave.
It was a short walk to the hospital, and he smiled as he went. He stepped into the elevator, pressed the button for the seventeenth floor, and hummed along to the muzak version of Careless Whisper. “God, who’s idea was it to record that?”
The doors opened on the ICU floor and he stepped out, his eyes searching the long sterile corridors. When he heard a familiar voice, he followed it, breezing around the nurse’s station.
The women at the desk smiled and nodded as he passed. He walked with controlled steps down the hall, remembering what he’d learned about concealing his presence.
A woman walked ahead of him, lost in reading charts in manila folders. He checked his clothes one last time, smoothing his jacket and adjusting the brooch. He followed the woman into the last room on the left, stopping just inside.
She picked up a basin as she entered, and began tending to the man in the bed. He looked tired, but he smiled when she entered.
John smiled too, and when the moisture collected in his eyes, he didn’t wipe it away. He looked down at his foster parents, his mother, the nurse who always believed in him. His father the mechanic who taught him so many things. “Mom, Dad, I’m back!” And he was, officially, in his heart and in his soul. He wasn’t just back on soil of his country. He wasn’t merely in his home town. There in that room, he was home.