Ebb And Flow

Carl Mason has had an eventful life; He's traveled the world, participated in rallies against his generations greatest vices and fought in his generations greatest conflicts and helped change history forever... Or so he thought.

Another cloudy drop of water tumbled down the side of the sink and disappeared into the drain, carrying with it a pack of white stubble that had just moments ago been part of Carl's poorly kept facial hair. It was four thirty in the morning on the eleventh of November. Although the first war had ended over one hundred years ago, the day was still celebrated. It was celebrated for a reason that had become quite personal to Carl. One couldn't possibly don a dress uniform and present themselves without shaving, and so there he stood, in front of a well lit mirror sliding a sharp blade across his worn and wrinkled face. He slipped the blade under hot running water and watched himself in the mirror as steam rose past. At sixty nine years of age, Carl could hardly recognize the man he saw before him. He remembered nostalgically at that moment, how he had once felt as though he would be young forever. 

"How nieve" he whispered to himself.

"Did you say something dear?" Came a voice from the other room.

Carl grunted, "No Charlotte. Nothing." He took the blade up once again and began to shave the other side of his face, being quite careful while shaving around the scarred tissue that ran down his right cheek. Touching it always brought back the memory of the explosion, one of many. The one that had left this scar was particularly memorable however. A good friend was sitting directly across from him in the vehicle when the improvised explosive detonated. It ripped through the armored hull of the personnel carrier and tore Carl's companion to pieces. The damage done to his face was solely from bone fragments, pieces of his friend. Since his eye was fully functional, the doctors never attempted to remove a fragment lodged near his optic nerve, afraid to damage it. Therefore, Carl carried a part of his friend with him from that day forward, an awkward and gruesome memento.

Minutes later, Charlotte was tightening Carl's tie as he fastened the last few buttons on his shirt. It was a solemn affair. Charlotte attempted a smile, but it was not difficult to see that she was uneasy; her eyes quickly retreating to the task at hand. She was a powerfully passionate woman and was easily affected by the moods of others. Needless to say, Carl's mood was always somber on the eleventh of November.

At five in the morning, Charlotte and Carl sat down for a quiet breakfast. She ate quickly, constantly battling with the friction in the still air. She had come to despise this day, but endured it for him. She took his plate when he had finished eating and cleaned while he dried. Once the dishes were away, they walked out to the car, their breaths misting in the winter air. He carried with him a thermos of coffee while she carried a bottle of flavored water. Carl got the car running and they waited in silence for it to warm up.

Without a word, they looked at each other and Carl forced a smile to cheer her up. He depressed the clutch, put the old standard in gear and backed out of the driveway. The next three hours would see them to their destination at the nations capital, where they would participate in what seemed like the millionth remembrance ceremony of their lives.

Charlotte and Carl, however, weren't aware that fate had other plans.

The End

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