Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt is to use “mem” as part of a word. As yesterday was Veteran’s day, I decided to use one of my veteran characters. It was just a matter of which one. I have a whole series that surrounds a group of former Marines, after all. But today it’s one of my other characters who spoke up.
Toby walked slowly down the path. He didn’t have to look around. he knew the exact route to where he was going. He’d been there enough times over the last several years. He didn’t expect anyone else to be here. His mom and siblings didn’t usually come out on this day. Maybe because their service in the Army was one thing he and Edward had shared was why this day felt important to come out here, too.
He veered off the path, counted his steps and turned to face his stepfather’s grave. He brushed a couple dead leaves off the top of the headstone as he crouched down in front of it. Ten years. Sometimes, he still found it hard to believe it had been ten years since he’d died. He’d survived two tours of duty in war zones, but it had been some punk on the street that had ended his life.
“We still miss you, Edward,” he said. “Jonas and Celia are good kids. You’d be so proud of them. I still remember how you said all the time you were proud of me. I didn’t get it. I did so much wrong, screwed up so much, and you were still proud.”
He’d never even known who his real father was. But, that hadn’t mattered once Edward came into their life.
“He was a good man.”
Toby glanced up at the familiar deep voice and stared at Michael McRoy, his captain at the police department. he wasn’t sure what to say to him right now. He hated anyone to see him in a weak moment, and that’s just how he felt right now. But, the other man just crouched down beside him.
“I didn’t know him as well as Brendan or Jerry, but we served together, too. And you’re right, he was proud of you. He didn’t hold the choices you made as a kid against you. Why should he? You turned your life around.”
“Because of him. He saved me.”
“You saved yourself, Toby. He might have helped set you on that path, but don’t forget that you’re the one who stayed on it.”
The memory of Edward saying something very similar once hit him hard. Michael squeezed his shoulder as he pushed back to his feet. “he’s not the only one who’s always been proud of you,” Michael said.
Toby turned and saw Denise walking toward him. Michael was right. Toby hadn’t always been proud of the person he was, it hadn’t always been a good one, but Denise had always believed in him. And he knew that was something he could always put his faith in.