“What if I never see you again?” Thomas asks. He’s
five. Lindsey Whirlwind Horse can barely pick up her
son anymore; he’s too big. “What if you don’t come
Sleet hits the road between her house and Crazy
Horse School. Jacob, her husband, stands silent. The
village of Wambli, South Dakota, looks pale through
the storm, as if it is winding up and disappearing.
Black sky to the west. Jacob does not look in her eyes,
does not say anything. His long hair reaches to his
waist. His thin brown hands are empty; he swallows
hard. He bends his head down.
“I have to go.” It hangs in the air between Lindsey
and Jacob, ice words, hitting like the rattle of sleet.
Her father went to Vietnam. Her grandfather fought in
the Pacific. Her great grandmother was a ghost
dancer. Her great great grandfather was Crazy Horse’s
cousin, famous for killing, for dying.
She serves as a medic in the U.S. Army, has been
ordered to Afghanistan.
Thomas runs out the door, into the sleet. For the
moment Lindsey lets him go. She and Jacob stand
close together. It is hard to believe she has to leave
Jacob for so long, hard to believe she will leave him at
all. Since they were sixteen it seemed they were
made for each other, born for each other. Jacob takes
her hand and then takes her in his arms. Born for
each other. It isn’t a comfort. Her throat aches, but
she won’t cry, won’t say a word. He will not either.
Each lifts a face that almost seems serene. Each
understands. The world is what it is.
“I’m going to Afghanistan.” She will be a good soldier,
Thomas runs back in and the three stand together. It’s
May. The sun is breaking through the black clouds,
and the spring sunlight scatters over the rangeland.
She hears the buzz of a truck coming up the highway
to take her away from home.
Janet Shell Anderson writes poetry and flash
fiction. Her work has been published in an anthology
of Nebraska poets, All My Grandmothers Could Sing.
Her flash fiction has recently appeared in Vestal
Review, Pindeldyboz and Scruffy Dog Review.