最新回复：2021年3月27日 19点47分 PT
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The Vietnam Soul I don't know why, but recently I wanted to write a story about the Vietnam War.
So here it is.
============== “Rockvill,” the driver announced as the bus came to a stop. The name woke Gavin up from a semi-sleep state. He grabbed his bag from beneath the seat and walked up to the front of the bus. There was one passenger ahead of him who got out at the same stop. “Ouch!” Gavin glanced back reproachfully as the closing door almost caught him. Didn’t the driver see him? But the grudge quickly dissolved in the chilly night air. He was back! After so many times when he thought he’d die, after seeing his buddies falling down one after another, it was sheer luck to once again step onto the ground where he had grown up. Where he fell in love with Marianna and got married. He left the road and plunged into darkness towards his hometown. The bus and the other passenger had both headed in different directions. The moon was hiding somewhere, a handful of stars hung above. But he knew the way. About twenty minutes later, he was walking past people’s houses, a few of which were dimly lit. Jeez! He couldn’t believe how much the neighborhood had changed. And look at the cars parked on the streets! All in different styles over a few years. Tomorrow, he’d drop by old friends and let them know he’s back. They were going to throw him parties. A hero … he smiled and shook at the thought. As his house came into sight, he suddenly tensed up. Marianna was pregnant when he left home. He’d soon see his five-year-old son or daughter, for the first time. Involuntarily, he held his bag up against his chest. There was a gift for his child. A few months ago he had bought a handmade soldier doll at a farmer’s market in Phuoc Long. He stopped at the front door of the house, puzzled. The living room was full of light, as if someone were waiting for him. It should’ve passed midnight. The front door was even half open. Was there something going on? He sneaked in. Nobody was in the living room, but there were fruits and cups on the coffee table. The cabinets were the same set as before, but appeared to be worn and torn. The leather sofa must be new. A large framed photo hung above a rocky chair. Gavin moved closer to the photo. It was him, a then twenty-two year old, with such an innocent smile that he surely was unable to produce anymore. Next to his picture was … “Dad,” someone called at the entrance to the kitchen. Gavin turned aside and saw a middle-aged man standing there, with a tray of cupcakes in his hands. Gavin frowned. Was it someone else’s home now? But the picture … The guy walked over, set the tray on the coffee table, and reached out a hand towards Gavin. “Welcome home. So good to see you again. You are late this year, and for a while I wondered …” Gavin was taken aback. Who was this guy in front of him? Blond curly hair, short. Pointed and reddish cheeks. Greyish blue eyes. He so much resembled Gavin, albeit being almost twice older. The man sighed and pointed at the sofa. “Sit, dad. Looks like I’ll have to explain it again.” “Wait, you call me …” Gavin thought he had heard it wrong the first time.” “I’m your son, Aiden.” The man’s eyes glittered as he sat in a chair opposite the sofa. Gavin looked around the house. His heart sank. He suddenly realized what must have happened, although it was such a ridiculous idea. He sat down, trying to say something, but his mouth was dry. “This is Year 2015. Your 42nd time home after you … you died.” Gavin sat like a stone. He dared not to find out if he had a shadow or not. “Today is my birthday. You came home every year on my birthday, usually before midnight, and when the sun rose, you disappeared.” “Where’s your mom?” Whether Gavin was alive or not, that was a question he had to ask. “You saw her seventeen times. She had breast cancer.” Gavin lowered his head. Through the corners of his eyes, he saw that the sofa did not curve down near where he sat. “You must have scared mom the first few times when I was young. She told my aunt, and aunt came to see you a few times. They decided to keep it a secret; otherwise there’d be scientists, mystery hunters, government agents. We didn’t want anybody to disturb our family time.” Gavin didn’t know what to say. As he was concerned, he had just left Vietnam as a survivor. Everything about the battles was so clear in his head. The last time he saw Marianna dated only six years ago. But now, the “real now”… so he didn’t survive after all? Well, if what Aiden had said was true, at least he was lucky enough to visit them. “One year you told us, you once made a wish.” Aiden’s voice quivered. “That you’d come home alive, and you’d be at my birthday every year.” Now Gavin’s last doubt had vanished. Yes, about “two years” ago, they went through a tough battle. When he buried his head in the grass with bombs and bullets flying around, he made that wish. He had never told anyone about it. The fact that Aiden knew it proved the whole thing. “However this occurred, dad, I took it as a big favor from God. Mom was happy too. She told me you had never left us. Indeed, we prepared for this day every year, the day you came home. See, your favorite blueberry muffins, although you won’t be able to eat them.” Aiden pointed at the tray. “We had to explain it again each time, but we were happy to do so. I’d tell you what I did in the past year. I asked your opinion about my college major. Showed you my wedding pictures.” Tears ran down Aiden’s face. Gavin nodded and checked the clock on the wall. “Good … Now tell me what happened with you last year, and I’d like to see your mother’s pictures.” “You always say the same thing, dad.” Smiling, Aiden left for a cabinet and brought back a photo album. “You can’t turn the pages. I’ll do that for you.” While looking at the photos held in Aiden’s hands, Gavin asked, “What else have I said to you in the past, son?” “Life is present, and present is life.” “I was wise.” Gavin smiled. He had no idea how this happened, nor was he sure how many more times he’d experience it. A few hours later, he’d vanish again. Would he immediately enter the next “return” or wait for a year somewhere? Whatever! Time, space, the whole universe was just an illusion. It was love that had made things real.
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