Ray woke in the middle of the night, something he sometimes did when he drank too much punch. Ray never opened his eyes when he went to the bathroom at night, he didn't have to. He had lived in this house his whole life and he knew every inch of it.On the way back to his bunkroom, Ray paused a moment at his parents room. He had opened his eyes ever so slightly, he tried to imagine he and Livy lying in bed talking, laughing, or silently in their expressions of love. Ray said to himself as he wiped his face-24 hours, 24 hours and she'll be here with you.Ray made his way back to his bunkroom and snuggled down in the quilts of his bed soon asleep so he felt.
"Ray" a whisper came out of the darkness as it did when it was young and wanted only Ray to hear, no one else.
"Ray, I'm proud of you." it sounded a second time.
Ray sat up in the dark bunkroom, the one he had shared with Daniel all of his life.
"I don't understand little brother, where are you?" Ray asked with urgency.
"I'm here, Ray, I've been here since they sent my body to be buried. " Danny's voice became fuller, more real in the room.
Ray turned to look at his brother's bunk, scared that he would see nothing. Relieved when he saw the silliuette he had seen in the fellowship hall doorway earlier that night."
Danny, I've missed you so much." Ray tried to get up out of his bed, but the quilts were to heavy, he longed to sit next to his brother who had been taken from him without warning or merit.
"Ray, I know you have, but you have Livy. She loves you so much. She will live here in this house with you. Just like you have always wanted, Ray, to live here with your wife and family..."
Ray interrupted "and with you, Danny, with you."
"Yea, yea, big brother, but we don't all get to have what we dreamed. I don't regret enlisting to serve my country, it was my dream. My dream was for only a little bit, but that doesn't mean you can't have your dream and live it to the fullest." Danny spoke like a mature adult he had become while enlisted.
Ray said nothing
"You took care of me my whole life, Ray, from the time I could walk, talk, go to school, you took care of me. Now, it's time for you to take care of your family... the one you have chosen." Danny said as he got up off his bed and moved to where Ray was sitting up in his.Danny smiled, "You have kept this farm going all on your own for while now, Ray. You've done a good job. Mama and Daddy would be proud, too."
And with that, Danny's silliuette faded into the darkness of the room.
"Don't go, Danny, not now. Stay with me a while. I want to talk to you, tell you about Livy."Ray jerked and woke himself up.
It's only a dream, it was only a dream! Ray whispered to himself and turned over and cried for his brother, the moments they spent together in that room. Ray listened hard to the silence hoping to hear that one whisper that no one was to hear but him, "Ray". But it was not there, Ray laid there alone thinking of his brother. Ray drifted to sleep somewhere between thinking of Livy and wishing his brother would be at the wedding the next afternoon.
As the sun peered through the window sheer, Ray looked over at Danny's bed and saw wrinkles in the cover. Ray knew he had not been alone the night before, and he knew he would not be alone today at his wedding. Danny would be there as he had been since his body was sent for burial.
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