This is based on a song called (big shockers) traveling soldier by the Dixie chicks. It is about a traveling soldier who meets and falls in love with a waitress. Its told in her perspective. Enjoy. ;)
To be a working class sixteen year old in a small country town in northern California really might be thee most boring life ever. To be quite honest, life gets to a point where you start to think, is this me? Am I in it for life? And you begin to think it so. You convince yourself so completely that it will be your life, minus the school when that is over. That is not my dream; I do not wish to spend the rest of my days as a waitress in a scabby old diner, I long, dream, hope, pray, and use every source I possibly can to get to where I want to be.
Yes, I want to be an actress. More than anything, more than life itself. It’s a dream, a longing, a burning desire. I can feel it in my bones, calling me, ‘Natalie, Natalie, Natalie.’ It croons and sings and draws me in so irresistibly tempting and I can taste fame and fortune on my tongue, I can almost touch it with my fingertips.
My daydream faze is broken with a loud smash and the sound of someone demanding my attention.
“Miss?” an annoyed customer is saying to me, “Miss? Excuse me, miss? We are ready to order. Miss? Miss? Excuse me, miss? Hello?”
My head snaps round to see where the noise came from, I ignore the customer. Clumsy nerdy Sophia Alerdice is bent over scooping up glass with a pan and bush, she looks worried. No wonder, it’s the third glass she’s broken this month. I almost pity her – almost.
“Miss?” the customer says, really angry now. “Excuse me, can you serve us please?”
The wife, or who I assume is the wife, with sharp features and a nasal voice then demands, “We would like to order and if we are not seen to we shall take our business elsewhere and leave a complaint.”
I turn and blink, the couple is with their two young children. I guess their ages at four and seven; maybe, I might be a year or two out. “Sorry,” I say sincerely. “What can I get you?” They order, I leave them, I hear them mutter and tsk about me for my slow service.
I sever four customers and I am bored and tired. I just get to sit down when my boss – whom I hate with such an intense raging fury – turns to me and almost smugly points out I have another customer to serve. I stand, cross to the bar where a young boy – early twenties, late teens maybe – in an army uniform. He has short ruffled dusty blonde hair and stubble across his jaw. He seems bored or lonely, I can’t tell.
“Hi,” I say, “What can I get for you today?” I pity him, and I have an odd feeling that he’s in pain, emotional pain, the kind I really can’t help him with. I want to help though.
“A slice of pie and a ginger beer.” He says dully. I get him it and provide him service with a smile. “Thanks.” He says and just as I turn my back he adds, “Do you mind talking to me, I’m feeling a little low?” I turn back to face him, confused and knowing I can’t. I look at the clock and decide I am worthy of an early break.
“I’m off in an hour and I know where we can go,” I tell my boss who sneers but allows it. He leaves his food and drink and walks outside with me, we wander the direction of the docks and then seat on the end of a pier with our legs over the edge. I swing mine lightly; he crosses his ankles and sits silently by my side.
“I bet you have a boyfriend, but I don’t care, I got no one to send a letter too.” He abruptly but politely says in his sweet voice. I’m oddly glad he is wrong and that I do not have a boyfriend. “Would you mind if I send one back here to you?”
“Sure.” I say and I sketch my address and name onto some paper. I hand him the square with my details and he smiles. We spend some time getting to know each other. His name is Gregory Ellis, he’s eighteen – two days ago – and he came into the café when he was waiting on a bus and realized he was hungry. He’s in the army, going out to a camp soon. I told him I was single – hint, hint – and the things I liked, why I was working in the diner and how I am a piccolo player in a marching band. He compliments the red bow in my hair and I make a promise to myself to wear it every day just in case I see him again soon.
Eventually he stood and said, “I must go.” I say, “Okay.” And stand. He pecks me on the cheek and leaves. I stare after him blushing bright red. I realize the sun is low in the clouds and I have taken a three hour break and I am in trouble. In the same second I am darting back to the diner full of mumbled apologies.
The letters came at first from an army camp somewhere close by, he was happy, enjoying himself and had been told that he’d soon be going to Vietnam. I worried for him; I didn’t want him in Vietnam. He told me that he thought he was in love and all of the things he was dreaming of. I sighed when I read this and I soon came to realize I was in love with this almost stranger and wished I was the one he was in love with. Hoped I was the one consuming his dreams at night. One letter worried me; it was about three months after I’d first meet him, while in Vietnam. It tells me of how it’s getting ruff in Vietnam and he won’t be able to write for a while but I have not to worry. Of course, I worry for my lonely traveling soldier anyway.
My band are playing at a football game, I go, not willingly, I hate football but I have to as a part of band. I wear my bow because something tells me to, only I am not sure what. It’s the end of the football match, a man comes out after the anthem has been sang and the Lords prayer said, and he says, “Would you bow your head for a list of the local Vietnam dead.” Something tells me what is coming so I run and hide under the stands. I shiver compulsively, uncontrollably, tears streaming down my face. I want him to come through the doors and tell me all is fine and he’s back forever. I want, I long, I pray, I dream, I wish, I will it so with such an intensity that I really for a moment believe it might happen.
It echo’s in my ear. Again and again and again and again. The man reading the list of the . . . I hate to think it – dead says Greg’s name and my word is over. It shatters and then bursts into flames and then the flames dissolve away with the flood of my tears and all that’s left is the ash and smoke, like some magic trick. Some sick magic trick. My future, my love, my newly formed hopes and dreams and nightly prayers are all dead and gone, lying somewhere in Vietnam, lifeless.
I cry all alone under the stand, just a piccolo player from the marching band, over one name read where nobody really cares. Just a pretty little girl with a bow in her hair. I cry and cry, and sing a sweet song to myself:
“I never gonna hold the hand of another guy, too young for him they told her, waiting for the love of a traveling soldier, my love will never end waiting for the soldier to come back again, never more to be alone, when the letter says a solider coming home.”
Lyrics by Dixie Chicks.