Updated on August 19, 2015
Miss Templeton stood on her tiptoes with her back to the classroom. The lines drawn up the back of her calves with eye pencil tightened below her sturdy woolen skirt. She reached up and waved the eraser back and forth across the blackboard, removing evidence of her day’s work. She hoped the children would remember some of it. As she placed the eraser back on the ledge, she wished she’d kept Jimmy Kent after school to bang out the chalk dust and clean the board. He’d misbehaved all day, but she had a hard time faulting him, since his family wasn’t sure if his father would ever return from the South Pacific. He was missing in action.
She rubbed her fingers on her skirt and began sorting through the papers on her desk.
She looked up to see her colleague, Mrs. Marks, holding a folded piece of yellow paper.
She braced herself on the back of her chair.
“It just came,” Mrs. Marks said, walking toward her, across the classroom.
No. God, no. Anything but that.
Rick had been in France since the beginning of the year.
Mrs. Marks extended the telegram.
“Should I stay?” She glanced back at the door.
Miss Templeton nodded and “yes” came out a choked whisper.
“INJURED STOP PURPLE HEART STOP HOME SOON STOP”
Injured? What? An arm? An eye? His… God, please not that. She wanted his babies.
“He’s coming home.” She cried through uncertain tears.
“I know, Sweetie.”
“You read it?”
“No, Sugar! I brought it myself. Doesn’t that just make your day?” Rick popped his head through the door. He wore a huge grin.
Miss Templeton ran across the room and threw herself into his arms. She felt them encircle her as she melted into his kiss.
She didn’t notice the fingers missing from his right hand.