“Margaret,” the old man said, “come back to bed already.”
“But he’s out there again, Dan,” she said, peeking out behind their bedroom curtain. “I see him.”
Dan sighed and slid out of the warm bed and peeked out the window beside his wife.
“Nothing there. Now let’s just get some sleep please.”
As he led his wife back to the bed, he began thinking that maybe he should call the doctor in the morning. Tonight was the fourth time this week she claimed to see a man standing under the lamppost staring at the house. Every time he looked, there was no one there.
By morning Dan had forgotten all about calling the doctor and carried on with his daily routine while Margaret spent the day at the Shady Pines Senior Center with her friends. After finishing all his chores and errands, like any good husband of sixty plus years would do, he decided to take the last three hours of his day and go visit their son who lived in the next town.
“Gone to Joshua’s to see the new baby. Be back late. Dan.” He left the note on the front door so Margaret would see it and not worry about him.
Margaret didn’t think anything of it when five o’clock rolled around and he still wasn’t home yet, so she made herself a small bowl of milk toast for dinner and watched an old rerun of Milton Berle on PBS. She hadn’t been fond of him when he was originally on, but after listening to the kids that walked up and down their street all day, his humor was funnier now than then.
By the time eight o’clock rolled around, she started to worry a little, but she knew how Dan was with small babies. He was always such a great father to their eight children and a fantastic grandfather to forty-five grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. Little Edward was the newest great-grandchild and the only one that lived close by. She didn’t like the thought of him driving after it was dark, but he was always so independent. He just refused to admit he was getting old. They were both getting old.
After getting ready for bed, Margaret opened the curtains in their bedroom slightly to let the moonlight in. She hoped the man under the lamppost would not be there, but he was. She tried telling herself not to look–that he was just a figment of her imagination. Yet, somehow he seemed so familiar. Like she knew him. She looked straight at the man under the lamppost and he looked at their window.
“Who are you,” she said.
A second man she instantly recognized appeared beside the man under the lamppost and she began to cry. Of course she would know the man she had fallen in love with the first time he stepped on her foot during a game of kickball in the school’s yard. But why was he there? Why is he standing under the lamppost with the stalker? Why didn’t he drive up in the car and park it in the garage like he always did?
She watched Dan and the man hug and became even more confused. That was until the man who had stood under that lamppost watching her for more than forty years turned and saluted her.
“Matthew,” she whispered. “Is it really you? How? I don’t…”
Over the television set in the living room sat a mantle with memories of days long since past, but in the center is their most prized possession. The medal the Army gave her after calling her son a hero as they laid his body in the ground so many years ago. Matthew had given his life saving the others in his patrol.
Margaret looked at the medal and smiled.
Mrs. Howard, Margaret and Dan’s upstairs neighbor, looked out her window and cried as she waved goodbye to her friends of so many years as she watched mother, father, and son step out from under the lamppost light and walk into the night. Together again.
This tale was inspired by FOWC with Fandango – lamppost