[ wall of stone ]

by pfc kory

"Hey, Dad!"

Zeke Anderson looked up and grinned as his daughter entered the room. He'd forgotten that she was coming over for dinner. As he moved to greet her, the television erupted into loud static. Zeke swore and turned his attention back to the rabbit ears sitting on top of the set.

"I'm telling ya, Dad, you've got to give up on those old rabbit ears and invest in cable," Katie managed to say between spurts of laughter.

Zeke swore again as the television screen blipped to life for a second, and returned to static. Once more he reached for the rabbit ears, but paused as he heard Katie chuckling. Tossing his daughter a chagrined smile, Zeke shrugged his shoulders and sat back on his heels. Oh well, he wasted enough time on the damn thing. The TV spontaneously flashed back to life, and Zeke tossed it an annoyed glance as he began to rise. He stumbled over his feet as the image on the screen nearly knocked the wind out of him. Throwing his hands foward to catch himself, he grasp hold of the television.

Katie quivered as she watched her father. His hands were clinging to the set so tightly that his knuckles were turning white. His eyes were glued to the screen. As he began to tremble and tears ran down his cheeks, she ran into the kitchen to get Jennifer.

"Zeke?" Jen whispered as she knelt down, wrapping her arms tenderly around her husband. "What is it? Can you tell me?"

She could feel him trembling beneath her as he sat, the tears continuing to spill silently from his eyes. She leaned her head against his, realizing that he needed her comfort more than he needed to talk. Slowly the trembling eased.

"I didn't know that he hadn't made it," Zeke finally managed to whisper as he looked at the TV screen. He reached to turn up the volume.

"....etched with the names of all the 57,939 young men that did not return from Vietnam, the just completed Vietnam Veteran's Memorial is to be dedicated two days from now on November 13, despite controversy over its design.....," the announcer's voice droned as the camera panned across polished black marble.

Zeke's eyes met Jennifer's.

"I'll find us a place to stay. We'll pack after dinner and leave in the morning," Jennifer whispered as she touched her forehead to his.

It was nearly an eight hour drive to D.C., but this was something that he needed to see, and touch. Perhaps this wall of names would help to ease the ghosts that Zeke wouldn't admit, even to himself, still haunted him. Grasping Jennifer's hand tightly, he rose and led her towards the kitchen.

Zeke's eyes met his daughter's as he entered the room. Katie sat huddled in one of the dinning room chairs, her eyes red and puffy. Still clinging to Jennifer's hand, he knelt in front of Katie and gently wiped away her remaining tears before reaching for her hand. Katie reached for Jennifer's hand, as well, and the three clung to each other. They knew this was a journey that they would make as a family, and the healing would finally begin.

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