John & Mary

Brightly colored leaves floated down to the little wooden house. Chips of wood were starting to fall off the sides of the house. Smoke rose from the chimney like ghosts rising from their graves. A young man carrying an axe walked to the little house and stepped inside. The smell of burning wood and soup filled his nose, making his mouth water. He spotted a young woman with beautiful brown hair standing by the fire cooking soup in a big black pot. He smiled and walked towards her, wrapping his arms around her.
"Hello, love," whispered the man. He inhaled the smell of crisp apples from her long hair. "What are you cooking this evening?" asked the man. He stepped beside the women and looked into the pot.
"Oh, John. It's the same thing I cook every night," chuckled the woman. John turned and faced his wife. The reflection of flames danced in her eyes as she smiled at him.
"Smells wonderful, Mary," he gave her a quick kiss and sat himself at the table. Mary followed her husband and sat in front of him in another chair.
"John, you know they're sending men to fight in the war against the British. What if they send you? I'm worried," sighed Mary. Her eyes told John she was sad. She looked down at her hands and brushed some of her hair out of her face. John gently held her chin and forced her to look into his eyes.
"Mary, I'm just a simple farm man. Why would they send me? There are plenty of young men out there. Don't worry love, I will not go anywhere." The woman smiled and firmly held onto his rough hands and looked into his green eyes.
"The soup is ready," said Mary quickly. She hurried to the pot and poured it into two bowls. She did not want him to see her crying.
After they ate, the sun had set and darkness signaled it was time to go to sleep. John and Mary hopped into the small bed.
"Goodnight, love," whispered John.
"Goodnight, dear," responded Mary. John turned to the little table and blew out the candle. Mary turned to the other table and blew her candle and watched the smoke dance and disappear to the ceiling. The man kissed the woman's cheek and wrapped his arm around her. Mary cuddled into his chest and listened to John's steady breathing until she fell asleep.

Mary awoke to find John had already left to work on the farm. She sighed and stared at the ceiling. Sadness suddenly overcame her. What if John finds out he does have to go off to war? What will I say? I couldn't live alone; not without him...Mary wiped away her tears and got out of bed. She walked to the little window and listened to the familiar sound of John cutting wood. She quickly got dressed and went into the kitchen and started to clean, like she usually did.

John wiped the sweat off of his face with the back of his hand. He put his axe down and looked at the sky. Leaves were starting to fall faster and created a cloud of colors. Winter was soon approaching. He looked at the little house and saw his wife busily working in the kitchen through the winter. Then he frowned. What if Mary's right? What if I do have to go to war? How will she take care of herself? Thought John. He imagined his little wife alone in the kitchen with one bowl of soup on the table. He could see her sad face and cloudy eyes. Her beautiful hair was now dull and lifeless. He quickly shook his head, trying to get the image out of his head. He picked up his axe and began to chop.

Mary had decided to cook an apple pie for John. The smell was delicious. It filled the little house with warmth and sweetness. She had taken the pie out of the fire when she heard several knocks on the wooden door. She placed the pie on the table and walked to the door. She opened the door and found a burly man with a black beard covering his plump face staring back at her with beady eyes. Then she gasped. He was the general.

John picked up the chopped wood and headed for the side of his little house. He placed the wood on top of a pile of already chopped wood. He threw his axe on the ground and headed to the front of the house. He opened the door and walked inside to find his wife sobbing on the table. She had a letter in her hand in a firm grip. John's eyes widened and rushed to Mary.
"What's wrong? What happened?" exclaimed John. Mary slowly lifted her head and gazed into his eyes with tears streaming down her face. She lifted her hand and gave him the letter. He quickly took the letter and began to read it. He gasped. The general wanted him to go to war. He looked at his wife in shock. She was right, thought John. He sat beside Mary and tightly wrapped his arms around her, rocking her back and forth to comfort her.

Weeks passed and the couple had not talked about the war. John was to leave the next day, and Mary couldn't stand it. Weeks had passed and they had not talked to each other. Mary sat at the table with two bowls of soup ready. John walked in and made his way to the table. He sat down and started to eat his soup. Then Mary spoke.
"Why must you leave me, John?" said Mary softly with her head down. John looked at her and stopped eating.
"Mary, it's something I must do as a man. I have no choice. I must fight for our country. You understand," replied John gently.
"What if you die in the war? What will I do then? I don't want to be a widow..." sobbed Mary. John got up and walked towards her. He took her hand and forced her to stand up. He took her chin and gently lifted her head, something she was so familiar with. She stared into his green eyes as she stared back.

"Mary, no matter what happens, I'm coming back alive. I promise you," whispered John into her ear. A tear fell from her eyes and she buried her face into his chest. "I won't leave you..." They both stood there in each other's arms for what seemed like hours, and Mary wished she could have stayed in his arms for an eternity.

The next day John kissed her goodbye and left her. But Mary knew he was coming back. He promised her. She sat at the table and listened to the awkward silence. The house seemed so empty and so cold. She looked around the empty house and suddenly felt so small and alone. She sighed and went outside and got a stack of wood for the fire.

****

White sheets of snow covered the ground as smoke rose from the chimney of the little wooden house. A woman appeared and walked to the side of the house. She grabbed a pile of wood and walked back inside. Her eyes were tired and her hair dull from the months of worrying. She threw a log of wood into the small fire and sat at the table. She stared at the dancing flames until there was a knock at the door. She suddenly turned around and headed for the door. She tossed her hair out of her face and opened the door. Then she found she was staring at a familiar pale face with green eyes. She gasped and threw her arms around the figure and cried, "Oh John! You're alive!" She sobbed in the man's chest and touched his stubbled face.
"I told you I'd come back for you," whispered John in her ear, something she was waiting to feel for the past several weeks. She felt the familiar grasp on her chin and looked into his eyes. For the first time in weeks, she smiled.
"Come, my love. You must be hungry," said Mary, wiping her tears away. She held onto his cold hand and led him to the table.
"No thank you, love. I'm not hungry," said John. He took her hands and looked at her. "I have been waiting to see you forever, my love. I missed you very much," said John softly as he stroked her long hair. Mary reached for his face and stared into his green eyes.
"And I have waited forever to see you, my love," whispered Mary. Then she felt the familiar arms wrap around her and pull her into a tight hug. They stood there in each other's arms exactly how they left each other. Then, John released her.
"Love, I forgot to tell the general something. I must tell him now," said John. Mary looked up at him.
"Tell him what? Can't it wait? You just arrived!" exclaimed Mary. John smiled and stroked her hair.
"No, love. It cannot wait. Wait for me," John stepped away from Mary and headed for the door. Mary stood there and watched him. "Don't worry, Mary. I won't leave you," and with that John walked out of the little door. Mary sighed and sat down.
"What did he have to tell the General? Couldn't it have waited?" asked Mary out loud. She looked at the pot of soup above the fire and waited. Suddenly, she heard

several knocks and rushed to the door. Knowing it was John, she quickly pulled the door open. She stared at a face that did not belong to John. This man was plump with beady eyes and a black beard. It was the General.
"Hello, General. John was looking for you. He said he had to tell you something. You can wait for him inside if you like," offered Mary. The General shook his head.
"Poor girl. I have bad news for you, Mary. Your husband, John Witkins, has died in the war on January 28. I'm sorry, dear," said the Genereal. Mary stood there in shock. She looked at the General and at the letter he held in his pudgy hand. Then Mary spoke.
"January 28? But that was two days ago!"