Anniversary

An extra-short story for Memorial Day

The timer dinged as she was taking the chicken out of the oven. Leaving the bird on the stove, she set the table the way he liked. Plates centered in front of the chairs. Napkins folded in half with silverware perched on top, just so. Wine glasses awaiting his vintage selection for the evening.

Center table, she placed her grandmother’s blue and white serving dish filled with stuffing. Next to it, a large bowl of crisp spinach salad. She transferred the chicken to a serving platter and carried it to the table. She found a place for it between the stuffing and the salad.

With candles lit and the lights dimmed, she poured the Chardonnay, careful not to spill a drop. She hit play on the remote, and the soft notes of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” filled the air. She stood back to admire her handiwork.

“What do you think?” She rested her hands on the back of his chair and motioned to the table. “You always loved a nice table setting.”

His dust-streaked face peered at her from within a silver picture frame near his plate. The image captured him perched atop an armored vehicle, surrounded by sand dunes and other smiling soldiers. His wide grin pierced her heart.

She traced his image with one finger and sighed. “One year without you in this world. Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart.”