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UKArchive ID: 36406The White Peacock by harry
Originally published on April 4, 2016 in Fiction    

A short, short look at those left behind.



The White Peacock
 
Harry Buschman
 
 
My father had an annoying habit of pulling on his mustache whenever something troubled him. He was doing that now as he stood by the living room window looking out across our ragged lawn. It was a chilly evening in early April and spring was a little late that year.

 "Your sister is out there Ben,” he said. “Maybe you better go get her – it'll be supper time before long and we won't know where she is." I walked over to him and looked over his shoulder. "She shouldn't be dressed like that. She'll catch her death of cold. Hurry Ben, first thing you know she'll be out the gate and up the street,"

 "We have to make a decision, Pop. She's getting worse every day." I turned and got my coat from the hook on the vestibule wall. "She's slippery as an eel – she's out before you can catch her, especially now that spring is here."

 He turned to watch me getting into my coat. "We’ll make no decisions yet, you hear? Your mother won't stand for it." He turned his back to me and looked out the window again. "Just go get her ... please. Let’s get through another day," he breathed out, “It gets worse every day.”

 I caught up with her at the gate. Another second and she’d have been out in the street. She was dressed in the crazy costume she wore in a play in high school. The White Peacock! It made her look like something out of a fairy tale. She was going steady with Richard even back then.

I took her arm – "C'mon Sis, it's almost supper time. You have to come in now."

 "Richard will be along any minute. I want him to see me first, to see if he remembers."

 "He's dead Sis. Remember? We buried him a year ago. For God’s sake, please try to remember."

 "How can you say such a thing? He's just late from work – he’ll be here any minute. I want to be here when he gets here. I don't want supper, not until Richard gets home."

 She won't accept it. Even though the Lieutenant in charge gave her the folded flag and she saw his casket lowered into the narrow plot in Arlington Cemetery, she still waits for him at the gate every night. She makes Mom set a place for him at the table. I can hear her talking to him in her room at night. Mom and Pop say she'll come around in time, be patient they say – let's not make any hasty decisions.

 The late afternoon air is ruffling the feathers on her costume and I can feel her tremble from the cold. She reluctantly gives up her vigil at the garden gate and lets me steer her back to the house, all the while looking behind her to see if Richard is coming.

 They call it collateral damage, and in a way it’s as bad as what happened to Richard.

© harry (harry on OLD UKA)
UKArchive ID: 36406
Archived comments for The White Peacock
Gothicman on 04-04-2016
The White Peacock
Very moving Harry, excellent work as per usual.
Trevor

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expat on 04-04-2016
The White Peacock
A powerful story squeezed into a small package. As ever, very well-written.

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