No Woman's Land
Illustrated by Lakshmy Mathur
An eerie fog settled over a small town in Mississippi. A young woman was walking her dog, a family was eating breakfast, and birds whistled in tree tops. Clara Pots sat alone in her one bedroom apartment with the blinds closed and deadbolt locked. Her eyes were trained on the old, yellow rotary phone which, at any given minute, would ring. A cold sweat broke over her forehead and her stomach churned. A sleepless night and one too many cups of coffee left her anxious and wired.
The second the phone made a sound her hand clutched the receiver. She pressed it against her ear. “Hello?”
“Hi, Ms. Pots, it’s Linda from Family Dental. I was just calling to check up on you. You scheduled an appointment here last week and you never came in today. Is everything alright?” Clara’s shoulders sagged in defeat. This was not the call she’d been waiting for all morning.
Clara took a deep breath and ran her fingers through her stringy, blonde hair. “Everything’s fine. I just felt a little under the weather.” It was partially true, she was on the verge of throwing up. Only for a completely different reason. Clara looked at the grandfather clock in the corner of the bedroom and bit her lip.
“Hm?” Clara switched the phone to her opposite ear.
“I said, would you like to reschedule?”
“Yes, that’s fine.” Clara made an appointment for a different time this week and set the phone back down. She looked back at the clock and wondered what was taking so long. Had something gone wrong?
Just then the phone rang again. Clara jumped and with her heart pounding she reached for the phone. “Hello?” she answered, breathing hard.
“Baby?” His familiar voice brought tears to her eyes.
“Oh Jake!” Clara stood up and paced back and forth. “They said there was an accident-” her voice choked up and broke as happy tears streamed down her cheeks.
“I’m fine now. They just had to dig through debris to find me. It’s a broken leg and a bump on the head- that’s all. I’m fine.”
Clara shook her head, unable to speak. This kind of relief and happiness was something she’d never experienced before. She hoped she’d never have to again.
“They’re letting me come home, Clarebear. I’ll be home soon, I promise.”
Clara sucked in a gasp of air. “Oh thank goodness, Jake. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t wait for the call saying you’re not coming home.” Jake was quiet for a long time. She thought she lost him. “Jake?”
“I’m here. Look, Hon, I have to go. I’ll be home soon, I promise. We can talk about it then. I love you.”
“I love you too,” she replied wholeheartedly. With her hand still clutching the receiver, Clara curled up on her floral-print loveseat and closed her eyes.
The woman continued walking her dog, the family laughed over breakfast, and birds whistled in the tree tops. But the fog cleared over the small town. Because Clara’s solider was coming home.
And for her next battle, she’d need a lot more reinforcements.