B is for Benjamin from Passing through Perfect
The war was over, and hundreds of thousands of young men headed home to pick up the pieces of their lives. Benjamin Church was one of them. Many came home missing an eye, an arm, or a leg, but not Benjamin. Although he’d joined up thinking he’d fight Germans, the truth was he’d done little more than unload trucks and work on the motors that kept them running.
In the years he’d been gone Benjamin had sent countless letters home. His mama had written back several times saying things at home were just fine. But after the fall of that third year, he’d received only one letter telling how his mama had gone to be with the Lord. The letter was penned in Reverend Beech’s neat, even script , but at the bottom in shaky block letters his daddy had written OTIS CHURCH. They were the only two words Otis could write.
Benjamin climbed down from the bus in Bakerstown, slung his duffle bag over his shoulder, and started walking. It was almost twenty-five miles out to the farm and most of it back road. On the far edge of Madison Street he veered toward Pineville Road and left the town behind.
On the long nights when he’d lain in his bunk thinking of home, Benjamin had remembered raucous rolls of laughter and the smell of pork roasting over a wood fire. He saw girls in flowery dresses and called to mind the sound of their high-pitched giggles. Of course, it had been four years so he expected to see some change : a few new houses maybe, a new store, a cement road. But there was nothing. It was exactly the same as when he left. In a strange way, the sight of sameness felt comfortable . It was the part of home he’d longed for.
The sun was low in the sky when the house came into view. It sat there silent as a graveyard; no motors chugging, no people talking, not even a barnyard chicken squawking. For a brief moment Benjamin wondered if his daddy was gone also, but when he turned into the road the old man came out onto the porch.