The bill of sale for the old green house told Allison when Ernest, Marilyn’s father, had sold it, and to whom. But it contained no clues as to why.
After a bit more research, Allison discovered where Ernest had moved his wife and two children, Marilyn and her brother. They turned up in the second-largest city in the state in the 1950’s, near an army base. Oh, yes, Allison thought, of course. Ernest would have served in World War II. Maybe he stayed in the service for a while, and kept his family close by.
She dug up his service records, and found two key pieces of information. Ernest had served in the Normandy campaign, launched on D-Day in 1944. That meant he had lied about his age to get into the army. Certainly, he had seen many of his comrades-at-arms perish in that campaign.
And, he was still in the Army when it was integrated in 1948. His honorable discharge came in 1952. The bill of sale for the green house Allison now owned was dated that same year.
She closed her laptop and began to imagine Ernest’s life. The son of a brave adventurer named Ursula, and a mysterious man named Sydney. The father of an artist and free spirit named Marilyn, who had eventually returned to the community her father had taken her away from.
Somewhere in the historical record, most likely between the lines, was the truth of Ernest’s life.
Allison stretched out on her parent’s large sofa, closed her eyes, and let the late afternoon sun warm her face. Soon she was dozing, in and out of a dream that included soldiers in fatigues dragging themselves through mud, men in white hoods laughing hollow, sinister laughs, and a young woman standing tall, her hand held palm forward, light shining all around her.
Zzzzt. Allison’s phone buzzed her out of her nap. It was Leo, so she answered it in a sleepy voice. “Yup, Leo? What’s up?”
“Is this a good time to talk? How’s your mom? And dad? Everything okay there?” Leo offered. Allison tried not to let her irritation at the small talk show.
“Fine, yes, what’s going on?”
“Well, um, I just wanted to let you know something. Not an emergency, exactly, but, well, you might want to know about it.”
Allison sat bolt upright. Why was it that when anyone said “this is not an emergency,” your adrenaline immediately began flowing as if the house was on fire?
“About what, Leo?”
“Douglas. He’s in the hospital.”