When stuck in the river, it is best to dive and swim to the bank yourself before
someone drops a large stone on your chest in an attempt to hoosh you there.
Eeyore, A.A. Milne
On the night Sergeant Defenbargh came home from the war, Mom called him Bill. Grandma called him Willy. I called him Sergeant Defenbargh. Mom and Grandma gave him big hugs when he came down the hallway at the airport, but I was too old for that. Instead I gave the salute I had been practicing all week. He hugged me anyway, and called me “Princess.” Nobody had ever called me that before. It wasn’t my nickname.
He had been gone for 302 days. In the fall I kept track with the magnet calendar on the fridge, and then Grandma gave me a real one for Christmas. It had kittens on it, which wasn’t what I wanted, but I thanked her. 302 days wasn’t so long, really. It was only 43 Thursdays and 42 of the other days.
Tonight was the 43rd Thursday. On the way home we stopped to order pizza. While we waited, Sergeant Defenbargh and I walked down past the parking lot where there was a creek. I picked up an old dirty green bottle and he told me to put it down, but instead I threw it in the water. He didn’t laugh, but he didn’t get after me either.