Half-Mast, a brief story

I wrote this five years ago. I wish it didn’t feel so real in 2017.

JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

We were thrilled, the whole crowd, as we giggled and whispered and whistled outside the school that day.  It was quarter to noon on Memorial Day, one of the most exciting days of the year. The American flag, with its crowded square of 64 stars, looked as if it housed a universe on that patch of blue.  It flew at half-staff, as usual, though there was not a breath of wind to spread the banner.

Betty was the littlest of our crew.  At only five years old, she couldn’t remember why we celebrated this day—the morning or the afternoon, my favorite part.  She kept taking Mom’s face into her hands and staring into Mom’s eyes, asking wordless questions.

“C’mon, Bets,” Jakey said.  “I’m only nine, and I know why we’re here today.”

“The flag?” she asked, showing she knew more than she was saying.

“Mmm hmmm,” I said, prompting her…

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