This is a narrative of a potential short story.
In a small town in New England the traditional Memorial Day celebration is proceeding on a sunny day in 2017. First there is the high school choir singing patriotic songs then there are speeches and lastly there is the flag and wreath laying. To 19-year-old Rebecca Ortiz, answering to Becca, this Memorial Day is very different from all those that she has experienced before. The family tradition is the same. Her mother’s family, the Bennetts have a long history of military service. John Bennett fought in WWI, Harold Bennett fought in WWII, Becca’s grandfather, Harold Bennett, Jr., fought in Vietnam and both Becca’s parents, Robert Ortiz and Sandra Bennett served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even her older brother is in the army now. The Bennetts go to the markers of John and Harold Bennett each year, place their objects and pay their respects. In all the service to the US, only one family member died in the line of duty. Harold Bennett was killed when his bomber crashed into the English Channel in 1942. He was the family sacrifice. The hero. Or so they were told. She stood there with her Great Grandmother, her Grandfather and the others while they looked at the empty grave of Harold since his body was never recovered. He was MIA presumed dead and at the bottom of the English Channel with some of his crew mates. But Becca has a secret that must be kept. Something that is eating her up and it shows on her face.
After the ceremony they go back to her grandfather’s house where he lives with his wife and his mother who is 94. They have the barbeque with all the fixings. Becca usually enjoys the feast but not this year. Her older cousin notices how unhappy and subdued she appears and asks the cause. Becca has to think of some reason since she isn’t good at hiding her emotions. She invents anxiety over her freshman year that just ended and she’s considering switching majors. Paula accepted the excuse but didn’t look very convinced. Said she was around if Becca wanted to talk. While most of the family was in the yard, she went inside to find her great grandmother and her grandfather on the couch. On the mantelpiece sat military portraits of all the members who served and Becca cringed when she saw Harold Bennett in his smart Army uniform ready to take off for the war. She listened to her Great grandmother reminisce about her lost love. Becca had heard the stories about him dozens of times but it was always important to Viola that Harold’s descendants know what a character he was. He was going to drama school when war was declared and dropped out to enlist. She had known him since grade school and he always made her laugh with his impersonations and cry when he played the romantics of Shakespeare. Viola graduated from high school in 1941 and they were married later that year. Before they could get a life together started the war derailed them and he was sent off to England to fight in the bomber squadrons. His plane was lost over the channel before she could tell him that she was pregnant. Viola was never sure if he ever got word about his child but Harold, Jr. never knew his father. Viola tried to fill in the gaps for her son and all the family. Becca could bear it any longer and rushed from the living room.
Outside she was bursting with anger and longed to tell someone her secret. She decided she would confide in a journal. A journal or a diary had never been her thing because she didn’t want to take the time to write thoughts down. But this was different. There was no one else she could tell so her tablet could become her confidant and keep her secret well. She went to her dad’s car and found the tablet. Wanting to be left alone she plunged into the woods that backed onto the Bennett house and sat by the creek to vent to her electronic friend.