Jennifer ran her fingers over the engraved stone while tracing her dead husband’s name.
Captain Marshall William Steward
July 29, 1984-October 15, 2010
Loving Husband, Son, and Brother
She leaned forward, pressing her forehead against the cool granite. A single tear splattered upon the tiny American flag. Of course, all the flags were out. It was Memorial Day weekend, although she felt lucky that no one was out so early in Arlington National Cemetery. The place was quiet, desolate despite the field of stones.
After she set her purse in front of her, she unzipped it and reached inside. Her fingers touched the cool metal, and she smiled.
“We’ll see each other soon, Marsh. I promise.”
She wrapped her hand around the gun and was about to pull it out when she heard footsteps behind her. Every muscle tensed, and she froze.
“Ma’am, are you Captain Stewart’s wife?”
“Yes, I am…was.” She didn’t look up at him. Her hands trembled inside her purse. Why couldn’t she have done this alone? A few minutes longer, and it would be finished.
“I don’t mean to intrude, but your husband was a true hero. Saved our as—um, behinds more than once, including at the end.”
“Really?” She cocked her head to the side and caught a glimpse of the man. When she noticed he was missing a leg, she gasped.
She sat up more and peered up at him. He couldn’t be more than twenty. “Did you—” She gestured to his missing appendage.
“Yes, ma’am. If it weren’t for Captain Steward, I’d be missing a lot more than my leg.”
“Are you happy, sir?” She tightened her hold on the hidden gun.
“Yes, ma’am. Got a baby on the way and everything. We were very lucky to serve with your husband, ma’am. He saved us. We just wish…you know.”
She relaxed her grip and nodded. “Yes, of course.”
“I’ll let you get back to him, ma’am. I wanted to say he meant a lot to us.”
She recognized the clank of the crutch while he left. “I’ll come to visit you in a few months, Marsh,” she whispered to the grave stone, zipped up her purse, and leapt up.
“Do you mind if I buy you a coffee, and you can tell me more about my husband?” Her heart thudded in her chest as the first touch of hope poured through her in months.
“Sure, ma’am. I’d like to.”