The Age of Innocence

Summary: Jeff experiences the pain of his first heartbreak. This very short story is a "missing" scene to SNAFU.

Disclaimer: Homefront characters belong to their creators. No copyright infringement intended. No profit is being made.

Author: Tracy Diane Miller

The sound of crickets heard in the near distance offered a peaceful serenade. The sky was dark, but clear, as a few stars and the moon's light sparkled in the heavens. It was not yet time for River Run to go to bed; however the heavens had obliged by providing the perfect calm, nature's lullaby as it were, to quiet the restless souls. But not even the beauty of tonight could pacify all the restless souls in the small, sleepy town.

Sarah sat on her bed staring intently at the small, framed photograph of Hank that she held in her hands. The gleam from the moon's silhouette that appeared to kiss her silk curtains illuminated the face of the smiling Metcalf, proudly attired in his military uniform. And for a moment, it only seemed as if Hank were winking at her. Surely, it was an illusion; Hank looked so happy, so hopeful in that picture. Sarah remembered that he had sent it to her shortly before the war ended. Along with the picture, Hank had enclosed a letter:

"My dearest Sarah,

The last few weeks here have been hell. Wherever I turn, I'm
surrounded by sickness and death. For some of the men, death is the
kinder alternative. It's quicker. But the sickness is…watching my
men waste away into skeletons, holding on to the last ounce of
dignity they have, is an image I'll remember for the rest of my
life. But thankfully, God allows me to remember other images,
wonderful pictures I see whenever I close my eyes. I see you, Sarah.
Every night before I fall asleep, I see you and I know that I can
survive anything. I know that nothing and no one will keep me from
returning home and marrying you. I love you, Sarah.

Yours always,

Hank"

A small tear escaped from Sarah's eyes as she gently placed the
picture back on the nightstand. When did everything go wrong? She
loved Hank, she did, and she was supposed to marry him. If Hank
hadn't gone overseas, they would be married now. Sarah remembered
that Hank had told her that Father Dreher had agreed to marry them
before he left. But she didn't want to marry him in a hurried
ceremony with the enemy's hot breath burning a hole right through to
her heart and where there was a likelihood of being a bride and
becoming a widow in the blink of an eye. She didn't want to be the
Mrs. Metcalf who walked to the door one day to find a messenger
bringing a telegram bearing news of her husband's death. Sarah
insisted on waiting until he returned from the war. They would marry
then, in church, before God and their family when they had the luxury
of time.

She didn't expect for it to happen. She never planned for it to
happen. She was supposed to love only one man in her lifetime and
love him until death did them part.

Sarah carefully removed the gold chain from around her neck. Her
fingers lovingly traced the face in the locket. His eyes were so
beautiful and whenever he looked at her, she felt beautiful, too. He
was so wonderful, so sweet and gentle. And when he kissed her, every
fiber in her body tingled with the anticipation of more. God forgive
her! She knew that it was a sin, but she loved him so much.

"Jeff". She whispered.

This time, a stream of fresh tears journeyed down her cheeks. But she
knew what she needed to do. It was for the best.

It was the longest walk of his life. Jeff had left his house not
really sure if he could do this, but it was for the best. He
couldn't hurt Hank anymore.

Was love supposed to hurt this much? He'd rather take a punch in the
gut than the pain that he was feeling at this moment.

The crickets seemed quiet as Jeff walked the path towards Sarah's
house. A second later, he was at her door. It was strange, but it
seemed as if she knew he was coming because she appeared at the front
door before he had a chance to ring the bell. They stared into each
other's eyes for a moment. Then, they hugged each other. He could
feel her body shaking and knew that it wasn't because of the chill
that permeated at the night air. They both knew that.

He told her the story of how he always could beat Hank when they
raced their bikes up to Kirtland Hill. He would beat his older
brother and that made him happy and proud. Today, he found out that
Hank had let him win all those years ago.

"He let me win." Jeff repeated as he gazed into Sarah's eyes. As he
started to walk away from her, she called out his name. Jeff turned
back around. "Hank really loves you." He said simply before
disappearing
from view.

Jeff started running, his heart pounding, running faster than he had
ever run in his life. What was he running away from? Where was he
running to? He didn't know. A minute late, he dropped to the
ground, his back propped against a parked car.

He didn't know.

They say that war makes men out of boys, but the pain of one's first
heartbreak does the same thing. It strips away that age of innocence.

And you can never get it back.

The End.