All's Fair in Love and War

"Granpa! Granpa!" a young girl squealed, rushing over to her grandfather's chair in the living room. An older man in his late sixties slouched in the chair, dozing.

A woman came out of the kitchen, wiping flour from her hands and quietly admonishing the girl. "Suzie, you know that your grandfather is tired from taking you to the park. Let him sleep for a while and help me make the dumplings. . ."

Suzie dodged away when her mother started leading her to the kitchen. "But mama, I want the story!"

A quiet snort from the chair interrupted them as the older man blinked awake. "Hey, whas this all about?"

Suzie grinned, dashing over to the chair and jumping into his lap. "I wanted the story, granpa, the one about how your mama and papa met."

"I'm sorry, dad," the mother shook her head. "I was hoping you could sleep longer…"

The grandfather smiled, holding up a hand to shush his daughter. "It's alright, Maggie. I had a good sleep, and there's no way I'd rather pass the time than telling my favorite granddaughter a good story."

"Granpa Eli, I'm your only granddaughter!" Suzie giggled as he started tickling her.

"And that's why you're so special." He kissed her head and sat her on his lap, trying to recall just how the story began.

His eyes fell on a picture frame sitting on an end table. There was a young couple in the grainy photograph. A woman with wavy auburn hair smiled back at him, even as she rested her cheek on the shoulder of a young man in uniform. The man's eyes sparkled with mischief and he seemed to be laughing at some private joke. Of course, the woman in the photo was Suzie's great grandmother, but the man wasn't her great grandfather. The man had raised Suzie's grandfather, though, and Eli didn't want to try to explain all of the intricacies of remarrying and step-parents to a six year old, so the young soldier had always been called her great grandfather. She was still too young to be told what had happened to her real great grandfather...

He shook his head, banishing the painful memories as he looked at Suzie's eager face. "Alright, kiddie, here's how my mother and father met."