This story is loosley based on how my grandfather was drafted into the Vietnam War (he was fortunatley not killed). However, all characters in this short story are fictional.
Nineteen-year-old Eugene Waters wandred down the crowded streets of New Orleans, proudly carrying his newly purchased tie. He coudln't afford much, but Mr. Egbert was a nice man and frequently gave Eugene and his siblings discounts at the General Store. Afterall, Mr. Egbert had known him since he was three years old. He had watched Eugene grow up and pitied his family's financial misfortune. The Depression had affected most everyone but almost twenty years later the Waters still struggled to put a hot meal on the table. Eugene usually wouldn't take such kind charity, but tonight was special. He was finally going to tell his best-friend how he really felt about her. Most boys his age were already married, or close to it. Heck, his sister-in-law is pregnant with Eugene's brother's child. And their just barley out of their teens! It was time to confess to Ruth; he knew he loved her ever since they were twelve years old. She had agreed to let Eugene take her out to dinner "just this once" she had said. He wasn't about to waste his only oppurtunity.
Eugene checked his father's old pocket watch. The ticking clock read twelve o'clock, Shoot! He was late for his shift. Again. Eugene ran full sprint toward's Mrs. Dosie's Pharmacy and Soda Shoppe, seeing the delivery truck stationed out front. "Well hurry up, will you? I haven't got all day!" Mrs. Dosie shouted at the squat man in front of her. He seemed to be having trouble lifting the heavy crates full of ice-cream and other goods. "Here, let me get that for you." Eugene, out of breath, lifted the crate from the man's arms. Relief flooded him as he sat down on nearby cargo, stretching his short legs while fanning himself with his cap. "It's about time young man! Where have you been?" Mrs. Dosie's usually neat bun sagged below her neck; grey strands of hair falling around her face. "I-I'm sorry I was just-"
"You were just what?" She picked up the parcel holding Eugene's tie, reading the packaging. "Buying yourself some fancy new clothes, are we? What about that birthday order?" He didn't have any excuse for forgetting his errands. "Oh, Mrs. Dosie, I completey forgot! I was on my way but I needed-" Then he saw her. Ruth's olive complexion and striking blue eyes would attract any man's attention. Her long, dark, hair was so curly she never needed to use any irons like most girls did. She wore a skirt that swished about her knees, making her beautiful long legs stand out even more- "Needed what?" Eugene's attention snapped back to Mrs. Dosie but it was too late. Her gaze had followed his and were fixed on Ruth, her iron glare making the wrinkles stand out on her face. Mrs. Dosie shoved the parcel back at Eugene on top of the crate he was holding and stalked off towards Ruth.
"Oh no..." He dropped the crate next to the man, now snoozing, and ran off to defend himself. "Stop distracting my workers! I'll tell you..." Her voice trailed off as Eugene came closer behind her. Ruth gave him a sly smile, the kind she used to give him when they were kids. He felt his face blush then realized Mrs. Dosie had stalked off toward the bakery and was ordering around the now very awake man. "I'm your date, huh?" Is that what she told her? He felt his cheeks burn even more. Instead, she laughed. "It's okay, I'll stop 'distracting' you now. See you at six?" He blinked. "Wh-what? Oh, yeah! See you." As she walked away from him, he thought he saw something shining from her left hand, but maybe he was only imagining things.
Eugene took one long look at himselg in the mirror, before deciding his hair needing more gel. He ran the sticky subtance through his hair before it was styled just right. He straightened his new tie one last time before he was satisfyed. Eugene started the old car's engine three times before it roared to life, waking every creature within a mile radius. Eugene winced at the noise but the old car was better then no car. He drove fast down the streets of Louisiana until he was just on the outskirts of New Orleans, pulling up into the familiar driveway. Eugene hurried up the steps and rang the doorbell twice before it opened. Ruth's mother stood in the door frame with the same blue eyes her daughter had. "Eugene, she's almost ready. Come in!" Mrs. Barbara invited him into the family parlor, Eugene sitting in the same chair he watched Ruth sit in years ago, looking so pretty. Neither of them had time to sit down, as heels clicked down the staircase revealing Ruth in a pink satin dress reaching just below her knees. "Oops, sorry I hadn't looked at the ti-"
Eugene couldn't help himself, "Ruth, you look beautiful." She seemd unphased by the hint, quickly responding, "And as do you madame mozel." She giggled at her own joke, her laughter filling up the whole room and warming Eugene's ears. "I assume our magnificent chariot is awaiting us?" She looped her arm under his, "Of course, right this way." Ruth kissed Mrs. Barbara on her cheek replying, "I'll be home by nine, mama." She only nodded in response. "You too have fun now." Eugene lead them both out the door and to his "chariot". "We will." He called over his shoulder, but before he could open Ruth's door, he saw the same shine on her hand.
The calm music seemd like it was supposed to calm Eugene's nerves, but did the opposite. Ruth was just finishing her dessert when he decided, now is the time! It's now or never... he cleared his throat, prepared to give a long speech about how they were always meant to be together but instead he practically shouted, "I'm in love with you!" Ruth's spoon dropped to her plate with a loud clinck as people's heads turned to see what was the commotion. The music momentarily stopped but soon started up once again as people's gazes slipped away from the couple. "Er, what?" "I've loved you ever since we were twelve years old. You were asleep in the parlor and I couldn't help but notice how gorgeous you were and I realized we were alays meant to be together and-" the words just kept pouring from hs mouth until he noticed Ruth's uncomfortable posture. "What's wrong?" His heart sank as she wouldn't meet his eyes.
Then she finally looked at him. "Oh Eugene, I'm already engaged." She held up her left hand to show him the expensive, glittering diamond. "I was going to tell you sooner but you offered to take me to dinner so I thought this would be the perfect oppurtunity to tell you." Eugene could feel hot tears running down the sides of his cheeks as his vision blurred. "Who is he?"
Eugene didn't remeber much after that night, besides the silent car ride home and when Ruth placed a butterfly kiss against his cheek. He enjoyed it more than he should have and wished with all his heart he could just disappear. The evening after he spent his afternoon watching the television for his birthday to be called. It was. This meant he was going to fight in th Cold War. This meant he'd probably never see his family, or Ruth, again. But he didn't care. At this point, anything was better than just wishing he wasn't alive. He'd go, he'd fight, and he'd die. All for Ruth.
Author Notes: I'm new to this genre so please don't roast me :)