Second World War: St. Valentine's Day

An unexpected homecoming and a story of loss during the second World War

| Good Old Days

 "Hello!" a feminine voice said excitedly, "Hello, Johnny!" and I turned with an expectant feeling of happiness. This was the first voice except Mama's that had greeted me by name in the two hours since my arrival home after four years of enduring the travail of the second World War. It was St. Valentine's Day, and my mind was focused on thoughts of the gift I had come downtown to buy for my girl. 

As I glanced casually at the speaker, I froze momentarily, for the face before me was not in my memory bank. In fact, it was so unnaturally beautiful my immediate reaction was one of rejection. Looking into set blue eyes, lovely but expressionless lips and smooth, porcelain like skin, an uneasy feeling stirred in the pit of my stomach.

All too slowly, my eyes took in a perfect cheek and brow such as I had never seen before. This was not a human face, but a mask. A strange, beautiful, doll-like mask.

“Hello?” I queried, sincerely hoping I had managed to suppress a momentary recoil. Sensing failure, I made a weak attempt at smiling as the girl turned swiftly away from me.

"Nice to see you home, Johnny," she murmured before hurrying on, huddled in a bulky coat against the cold winds of February.

Just after dinner that evening, Mama drew me aside. I sensed there was something on her mind, and I welcomed a discussion to relieve me of the shadow of my afternoon encounter.

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