"All for Ellie"
Here is this weeks entry for Wendy's WOW555 contest. The prompt is to have a twist ending in honor of April fools.
Kayla hadn't any idea of what it meant to have a home before having Ellie. During premarital counseling they were told that there might be a strong temptation to center the marriage around their future children, that their relationship might be at risk of fading into the ether of parent-teacher conferences. At the time she thought it made sense that they should remain focused on each other; and a look from Will told her that he also agreed. Now, she longed for letters from Will just to hear about Ellie.
"Hey Lala," this one began, "Ellie is telling me to tell you that she's 'standing on one foot for really long,' and that she 'battled the dragon, but not really because dragons isn't real.' I tried telling her that I thought I saw a dragon guarding treasure in her closet, but she's not buying it. Now she's singing this infuriatingly catchy song 'All kids like alike' from one of her videos. I miss being patronized by grown-up pop music.
She asks about you almost every day, and even boldly declared last week that she knew you weren't scary..."
Returning home briefly after training, Kayla had been so excited to hug Ellie that she had approached her in a near sprint, delaying any visual processing of her dear child's face until she was just about to pluck her from the ground. Ellie's eyes were wide, slightly down-turned. Her disheveled curls all but obscured a tiny furrowed brow. Her lower lip hung, quivering. She retreated into her father's legs. She was not excited to see her mother, she was scared. Kayla fell to her knees as if her body were trying to catch up with her heart.
She quickly removed her issued hat and coat, pleading that Ellie look again--it was really her mommy under the scary uniform. Ellie eventually looked, and even let her mother hold her; but never lost her afflictive little look of distrust the week Kayla was home.
"… I told her that daddy helps people here, and that mommy helps people over there. She asked why you can't help here. I told her that without people like mommy she wouldn't have a safe home. I don't know if she understands, but I'm trying. She says that she does, but I think she's just imitating what she hears from adults. Regardless, It's surprisingly comforting.."
She would have found comparing her duties in war to her husband's surgeries difficult fourteen months ago. The first time, your hands tremble and you close you eyes. You remind yourself what, and for whom, you are fighting. She wondered if Will's hands trembled the first time he held a scalpel.
When she first had blood on her hands, she felt faint, like she had stood too fast. She had to force her vision back into focus and control her breathing. They would not have hesitated to do the same to her and her family. When blood was on her husband's hands, he had to focus, too, or his patient could die. It was true--they were both saving lives.
"Ellie has a birthday party to go to. It's 'Brighton Brave' themed. It's this show about a little girl and her magical eraser which can erase the world's mistakes. It teaches kids morals and gets parents to buy expensive gift wrap. Somehow, I think we've been to more birthday parties this year than she has friends. I smell double-gift-dipping malfeasance. Some little four year old is playing a confidence trick, I just know it. She wants you to know that she cut the wrapping paper all by herself.
I love you! Stay safe keeping us safe and come home soon."
It was difficult getting up every morning knowing that Ellie wasn't there. But, with the promise of protecting her future, she managed. She knew that this war meant freedom for her little girl. Ellie would someday be free to marry without any fear of impure blood defiling her line. Every admixed that Kayla killed meant one less infringing on the rights of her unmixed, pure-race daughter. It was all for Ellie.