Holy Mother! Is she an apparition, or is she real?
My eyes are wide open. I do the pinch trick, and I feel a slight twinge of pain, but my heart insists I must be dreaming.
The person walking the hall towards me is surely God’s finest work. Her womanhood overpowers me.
Gloria comes to where I am standing. She reaches on tiptoes to kiss my cheek. Naturally, I blush, and then a flush of unmistakable passion persists.
“Burton.” She speaks my given name.
I snap out of it. This is my wife; I remind myself.
“Gloria.” Formalities aside. I hold her gently at first. Then tighter, until I am squeezing her and holding her close. I’m the one to pull away, and that’s when her lips meet mine.
I met my wife in the spring of 1942. I was a Navy lieutenant serving in the Pacific. Gloria was a Navy nurse. It was a romance novel meeting – oil and water. We didn’t mix well at first. I didn’t like her, and she didn’t like me.
Somehow, we were thrown together in enough situations where we relaxed and became good friends. “My buddy Burt.” She would tease me. We were separated for months that felt like years. We wrote letters. The letters turned soft and loving. I can’t remember exactly when, but I do remember where I was the first time I opened a letter signed “Love, Gloria”
I was in my bunk. Stan was snoring in the bunk on top. I was reading Gloria’s latest letter by the dim light of a thin pen flashlight with a slowly draining AA battery.
Just for the record: Gloria insists I said, “I love you” first.
While at sea, I suffered a serious injury from a gas explosion on board my ship. By Divine providence, Gloria was stationed at the base where med transport delivered my badly burned body.
My dear Gloria saved my life.
We married after the war, raised a family, and rarely spent a night apart.
Until now. My sweetheart contracted a highly infectious, deadly virus in early March. In all these endless months, she lay alone, near death, in the isolation ward of a hospital where she once worked.
Miraculously, she recovered. Today, Gloria is released and ready to come home. My prayers are answered.
We are not youngsters anymore. But they tell me, ninety-five is the new eighty, and by the grace of God, we hope to live our remaining years in love and good health, side by side, affectionate to the very end.
“Let’s go home, Burt.”
With Gloria, I am always home.
Author Talks: I was reading a flash fiction story. 1000 words or less. It began with a similarly sensuous opening and then disappointingly turned to smut. I can do better, I thought. I remember my Dad’s passion and admiration of my mother’s beauty up until the day he died at eight-nine years old. My parents love is the inspiration for Gloria and Burt. My Dad was too young to be shipped overseas in WWII, Burt’s injury is pure imagination.
– Susan Diamond