They stood on the path at the edge of the village, gazing across verdant fields. In her mind's eye she could see a line of men crossing the green countryside. She remembered the one that stole a glance over his shoulder, the one whose eyes were as full as hers; the one who took her heart with him. A rear trickled down her face as she considered the miracle that had brought him back to her.
He watched her as she remembered. Glancing towards the path at the other side of the field, the forest and hillside just ahead, he remembered his heavy heart from that day so long ago. And now he stood her with her, with the family he had left behind. Taking her hand in his, he turned her toward the village. Walking through the center, they found the place where it had begun, the site of her parent's hut. It had been replaced by a new one, larger and sturdier.
The children, their grandchildren, approached a child in front of the hut and began a conversation, their Vietnamese awkward but understood by the other. Jim stole a glance at Jimmy, who watched with a mixture of sadness and relief on his face. Alicia stood next to him, quietly supportive.
Then unexpectedly, Jimmy turned to him. "I have been thinking," he said quietly. "And I have discussed it with Alicia. She agrees with me. If it is alright with you, I'd like…Well, it might be too confusing for me to do it, but I'd like…"
"What Jimmy? What is it you want?" Jim asked.
"The children… Alicia and I would like to change their names…last names… to Brass. We, Alicia and I, would hyphenate ours to Brass-Trang and the children would just be Brass…if you approve." Jimmy looked at him with trepidation.
Shocked, Jim was mute. An's hand tightened in his, encouraging him. But he simply couldn't speak as tears pooled in his eyes.
"It…it is alright," Jimmy started. "I understand…"
His son's disappointment sent a sharp pain through Jim. Collecting his emotions, he reached for his son's shoulder. Clasping it, Jim found his voice. "I would be very proud if you did that," he said as he looked his son squarely in the eyes. "You and the kids bring honor to me…I am very proud."
Swallowing deeply, Jimmy fought the tears that were gathering in his own eyes until his father pulled him into a hug. "I am honored to be your son," he choked out.
Alicia, standing next to An now, smiled. "So now it is official," she said. "We are all Brass'," she finished as she held An's hand, the one with Jim's ring on it.
"It is better than I ever hoped," An added.
A few minutes later, they crossed the verdant fields, braving the open space, secure that there was no enemy. The family headed towards the path at the other side of the field, the forest and hillside just ahead. Like a worm, they inched across the last of the field and into the green of the forest, and as they disappeared into the trees he knew that the path would take a slight turn, climb the small hill and then head east into a future he could never have imagined the first time he took this path. The Brass family was going home.
Well, that's all folks. It took longer than I'd expected because of all the computer glitches, not to mention losing multiple chapters that had been written. My mojo went with them for awhile. Many, many thanks for continuing to read along and especially for the wonderfully supportive comments and reviews along the way. In some ways this one was the hardest I've ever written. Special thanks to Beaujolais, who helped me flesh out some thoughts and ideas in the beginning and to SylvieT, who gave me the inspiration for the ending. Both are very talented writers and their input meant so much.
Hope you enjoyed it. See you in the next little fantasy, lol.