Lenore sat in her bedroom looking at the portrait hanging on the wall. It was her husband’s portrait; him wearing his military uniform with a huge smile on his face. The portrait was taken only a month earlier. It was a gift given to her from one of her husband’s coworkers. As Lenore sat staring at the portrait she thought she heard a knock come from the front door. She got up and made her way down the stairway. “I’ll be right there!” She shouted to the unexpected guest. “Just a second!”. She opened the door and was just about to invite her guest in when she noticed that there was nobody there. She glanced around in confusion. She was sure she had heard somebody knock. “Hello?” She said into the open. When no reply came, Lenore shut the door.
“What’s for dinner, Honey?” Said a voice behind her.
Lenore spun around in surprise. Her husband, Allan, was standing directly behind her. He was wearing his military issued uniform; combat boots, camouflage shirt and trousers, and his dog tag necklace.
“When did you get home?” She asked still in shock.
“Just now, didn’t you see me walk in?” Allan replied.
“No, I- I didn’t.” Lenore answered somewhat confused.
“Well, I’m here, aren’t I? I’m going to go take a quick shower and then we can start on that dinner, sound good?” He said smiling.
“Yeah, that sounds great…” Lenore replied. She still felt odd about not having had seen Allan walk through the door. She had been coming down the stairs and from that angle had a complete overview of the kitchen and the living room and hadn’t seen him there. How was it possible that he had appeared right behind her? Allan was making his way up the stairs undoing the buttons of his uniform. Lenore followed behind. Allan walked into their bedroom and went to the dresser to get some clean clothes to wear. “How’s your day been?” He said digging through the drawer.
“Oh, pretty good. Got a lot of work done.” Lenore answered sitting at the foot of the bed.
Allan walked into the bathroom and got in the shower. Lenore went in to pick up his dirty clothes.
“I think I’ll pop these in the laundry.” She said holding up the dirty uniform.
Something shiny on the floor caught her attention and she bent down to pick it up. It was the dog tag necklace that Allan had been wearing earlier. She stared at the necklace. It was covered in dust. Lenore rubbed her thumb over the illegible letters. It read:
As Lenore held the tag in her hand she walked back into the bedroom and put the dirty clothes on the chair. Once more she sat at the foot of the bed. “Aren’t there normally two dog tags on the necklace?” She asked looking up at the portrait of her husband. He was wearing two tags on the portrait.
“Yes, there are two tags. If a soldier is killed they take one of the tags and leave the other on the body for identification purposes.” Was the answer that came from the bathroom.
“But you only have one…” She whispered. And in that moment Lenore realized that the reason she hadn’t seen her husband walk through the front door was because he never came in. He would never walk through the front door again because Allan wasn’t there anymore. Allan was gone.