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The Final Wait

Outside PAC Headquarters

Beijing, China

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018, 1:20 am

 

 

      “I miss the kids,” said Jared.

      Aaron said, “You can’t think about them right now.”

      “I know; it’s just that I miss them so much.  I know it sounds odd because logically I know to them I’ll be back after only a day.  To me, it’s forever.”  Jared knew, of course, he might not even make it back.  Maybe none of them would.

      Sarah said, “You have to relax.  Their safe and that’s all that matters.  No matter what happens to us, that’s all that matters.”

      “I know, but I can’t help it.  I miss all of my children, Deirdre, Spencer and even Carmen.”

      “Carmen’s not a child,” said Oliver.  “She’ll probably be married in a few months.”

      “Not these few months, of course,” noted Aaron.

      “You’d think Keith would propose already,” said Sarah.

      “I think they’re waiting for ‘the right time,’” said Jared.  “It’s just a question of when that time will come.  I guess it doesn’t matter; I’m sure it will come.”

      “It’s like we live in a Jane Austin novel,” said Sarah romantically.  “Mike and Kara have a marriage of convenience, and then Carmen and Keith will have a marriage of love.”

      Jared did not understand the reference and asked, “Marriage of convenience?”

      Sarah explained, “You know, like people that get married because they have something the other wants.  I don’t want to say Kara isn’t in love; she probably thinks she is.  Maybe she really is.  Mike, though, that boy is missing something.  It’s like his parents never hugged him as a child or something.  Of course, we know Zoe and Samuel are loving parents.  We know he got the love he should have needed.  In his case, it wasn’t enough.  I think they ‘fell in love’ because they had to.  They blame us for everything, for taking them from their lives, and for living apart from everybody else.”

      Oliver asked, “So why did you let them get married?”

      Aaron said, “What could we do?  Lecture them on what love really is?  If we told them no it would give them an even bigger reason to hate us.”

      “It’s not even that,” said Sarah.  “It all boils down to the simple fact: they’re adults now.  They might not act like adults, but they are.  Can we really say we know any better?”

      Jared shrugged, “We’re older and wiser.”

      Oliver said, “But only the lucky ones actually get wiser.”

      Jared asked, “You really think they’ll marry soon?”

      “I do,” said Oliver.

      Aaron said, “Umm, yes.”

      Sarah shrugged, seeming not to care, “They’ll marry when they’re ready, and that’s all that matters.  No, that’s not right, all that matters is that they’re happy.”

      Oliver looked at his watch. “This is getting ridiculous.  What are the odds they would both be here this late?  They should both be at home in bed by now.”

      He was referring to the generals.  They all sat together in one of their two cars.  The other car was there, too, just in case.  They sat together to pass the time.  Oliver was monitoring the headquarters’ security system to see when the generals left.

      “It’s OK, the later we go in the better,” said Sarah.  “They can’t be there all night.”

      Aaron said, “Well, technically, there are sleeping quarters.”

      “I don’t think they would sleep in common cots like average soldiers,” said Oliver.

      “It could happen, but why tonight?  They’ve never been here this late.”  Sarah asked Oliver, “Can you tell what other generals are stationed here who haven’t left for the night?”

      “Sure.”  Oliver started typing at what seemed a frantic pace.  Jared knew he couldn’t type that fast. Carmen could type fast, he thought, probably not that fast though.  She could type faster than Jared could. 

      Jared started thinking about Deirdre and Spencer.  He wondered how fast they would type.  He remembered how when he was a child adults always said his generation would be the computer generation.  Really, it was Carmen’s generation that took that title.  Maybe Deirdre and Spencer would show them all up in the end.

      “Got it,” Oliver said.  “All the other generals currently stationed here are signed out.  It’s just our two.”

      “How many are stationed here?” asked Aaron.

      “15.”

      “What are the odds, our two generals? Something’s fishy,” said Jared.

      “It doesn’t matter: we have a job to do,” Aaron said with a grim finality that Jared hated.

      “But if they know-”

      Aaron interrupted, “If they know, we still have to stop the war.”

      They continued to sit and wait.  Jared had been use to sitting and waiting from all the hours they had spent outside of Peng’s house.  Jared knew Aaron and Sarah could wait; waiting was nothing new for them.  Oliver, though, he had been lucky with the little general.  Oliver never seemed like a patient man.  He seemed like the type of man that always had something to do or somewhere to be.  Jared imagined that even now Oliver was sitting thinking about the things he could be doing instead of waiting. 

      Jared remembered a time he had been like that.  There was a time when Jared could not sit through a half-hour sitcom without weighing its importance against whatever projects he was working on.  If the show he was watching was boring or had a bad ending, it would mean the entire time was wasted.  Time wasted could never be gotten back.  Jared had felt there was so little time and so much to do.

      As Jared had grown older and got married, it had mostly stayed the same.  Lately, with the kids, time played such an important part with children.  You wanted to spend all your time with your children because once they got into school, became independent, and eventually moved out, that was it.  Sure, you would still see them.  There was no way to know how often.

      Jared had moved out of his parents’ house as soon as he graduated high school.  He doubted it would be much different for his own children.  Carmen was practically married off already.

            Carmen had been like a miracle for Michelle and Jared.  They had almost resigned themselves to being childless forever.  Then Carmen came and showed them what it was like to love a child.

Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford

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