The Reluctant Soldier.

I sit in my mother’s old rocking chair, the same one she used to rock me in when I was a colicky child nearly 40 years earlier, the one I used to hold my daughter when her temperature neared 103 F, but this time is different. No one is sick. It’s inauguration night,1993, ten minutes before Seven p.m. The bedroom door is closed. Its cold. Jen Rose sits on my lap under a tattered blue blanket, her head on my shoulder just like when she was a little girl. I can feel her heat beating fast against my own. The remote phone in my hand rings and she sits up and stares at me. Her eyes two dark moons reflecting the dim light of the room. Neither one of us moves then it rings again and I answer: “Hello.” Its Senator Patrick Leahy’s assistant calling from the floor of the inaugural hall. President Bill Clinton is minutes away from being sworn in, and he wanted to give my daughter: “the good news personally.” I already know why he’s calling. Bernie Sanders, Vermont’s newly elected congressman has given him an appointment to the U.S. military academy at West Point, New York, to give to Jen Rose. Leahy had already promised both of his slots to other candidates. I hand the phone to Jen Rose as instructed and Jen places the receiver to her ear. “Yes, sir…yes, sir…Yes, thank you, sir.” I watch her face and although its too dark to see her expression, there is tension in the sound of her voice. She hands me back the phone and lays her head back on my shoulder and pulls her blanket more snugly around her and i begin to rock.


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