My Son Went to War

In need of solitude, I walk to the barn. My boy Zach and I had painted it his favorite shade of red earlier that summer.
The smell of fresh paint mixed with the natural scent of its inhabitants.
I open the oversized doors that swing outward to accommodate the tractor. They feel heavier than usual today and as I walk inside, my first thought is that I had never realized how big and empty the barn is. Perhaps it’s just a reflection of the way I am feeling inside.

I walk over to the first stall where Bell, our sole heifer, stands patiently as little Daisy, her calf nurses. I am reminded that new life will continue with every living thing. The thought does not comfort me.
I walk to the next stall where Jasper, Zach’s colt, waits anxiously for his rider to return. I reach into the bucket of oats hanging outside his stall and retrieve a handful. I offer them to Jasper, but he refuses and instead steps closer to me and lays his head on my shoulder nuzzling my neck. Does Jasper know? Can he sense what has happened?
The tractor at the back of the barn looks miniature in size compared to the vastness of the building. The oak timbers are holding up well and even though the structure is 18 years old, it still looks new. I recall the months it took me to build the barn anxiously awaiting my boy’s arrival into this world.
I climb the ladder to the hayloft. The distinct sweetness of fresh straw fills my nostrils as I look through the loft doors at the dwindling sunset. In the distance I see the apparition of a young boy laughing and running through the fresh cut field. The blazing copper sky merges with the golden straw and an angelic ring of light surrounds him.
I smile and whisper “I love you, son.” as I realize that those we cherish stay in our hearts forever and we find solace in reflections like this.

Author: Tara Payne Steele

Poetry, flash fiction, short stories, novels, & nature photography. Completing Ph.D. in Psychology & Creativity Studies. Write psychological drama (with an occasional paranormal twist), as well as, individual & social consciousness themes. My spirit lives in my creativity.

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