I find myself walking down a very familiar road. The sweet smell of the grass fills my nostrils as I follow the road into the forest. Nostalgia coats my mind as I stop to take in the view.
“Almost home,” I remind myself as I straighten my uniform and continue my way down the path. The sun has barely risen and only a shimmer of light shows the way. My pack is heavy, but I hardly notice as I tread down the unforgettable road. “I know all of this,” I told myself, “my brothers and I ran up and down this old forest path. We would run through the underbrush, wielding our fishing poles like knights ready for battle, as we raced to the river.” I chuckle to myself as I recall the long forgotten memory.
My watch reads half past seven, as the sun illuminates the shadowy trees. My walk gets a bit easier as I see the old family mailbox. It silently reminds me that I am almost home. With every step I take, memories overtake me. “I went sledding down that hill one winter. There is the old treehouse Dad built us one summer.” I stray a few paces from the road and climb an oak covered hill to view the river. “I went camping with my friends on the opposite bank of this old river,” I recall.
I break the nostalgic spell that captures me in this familiar sight, and I make my way back to the road. I stop as I see the small grove of blackberry bushes. I leave the path once again to view the old, familiar shrubs. “My brothers, sisters, and I would gather blackberries here every spring. We would gather enough to make a blackberry cobbler.” I reach down and pick a juicy berry. I pop in into my mouth and let the tart and sweet sensation take over my tongue. I withdraw from the bushes, taking with me five more berries to eat along the way.
I quicken my pace as I see the top of the house. My bag tries to hold me back, but no weight in the world could keep me from my home. “Almost home,” I chant, “Almost home.” I run at such a pace that my lungs felt as if they might burst. I stopped suddenly as I caught full view of the house. I, again, straighten my uniform, take a deep breath, and walk forward. I tread up the stairs of the high porch and knock upon the door. The door opened revealing my mother's joyful face behind it. I was then locked into a hug, as tears of joy trickled down both of our eyes. My father came and wrapped me up in a hug, too. He was followed by my siblings. The joy that I express has no words to describe. I am happier than I have ever been.
Excitement shot through the house like a bullet. I could smell breakfast cooking, the aromas making my mouth water. The smells of maple syrup, frying bacon, and strong coffee took over my senses. My stomach groaned in longing for tasty cooking. I go up to my old room to change my clothes, but instead, I get caught up in remembrance. This is where I spent my younger days reading, playing, and imagining. I change into some comfortable wear, then I neatly fold my green uniform, and return down the stairs.
Breakfast tastes like it fell from a plate in Heaven. The sweet syrup and the crispy bacon make a delightful combination in my mouth. “Nothing in the entire world could compare to this breakfast,” I tell Dad and my younger sister. I can eat all day, but there is only so much food I can hold. The joy in me is completely uncontainable. My family and I retreat to the back porch, my father carrying his guitar, and my siblings bringing the instruments that they have mastered while I was gone. A guitar like my father’s, a banjo, a mandolin, and a violin. They talk softly discussing what song to play. My younger brother brings me something I haven't seen for a very long time. He brings me my old guitar, my companion for quite a time. Upon holding it, I felt the same joy that I did when I saw my family.
After tuning my guitar, I followed my father’s fingers as we played a lively tune. The sounds of the strings capturing me in their spell. Every note that is plucked makes me feel overwhelmed with joy. This is a joy no one could understand, my entire body feels an indescribable sensation of liveliness.
Time speeds its way ahead, and before I know it, dinner is cooking. I take a sip of coffee and talk with my siblings. I tell them the tales of being in the military, and listen to their stories of home. Heavenly scents come from the kitchen again. I allow myself to go to the kitchen to taste the wonderful culinary works of my family. I feel a bit dizzy now, almost like I am falling.
I am plunging down, down, down. My stomach turns, and my head aches. I suddenly stop, my eyes are screwed tightly shut. I gather up my bravery and open my eyes. I see deep green and pale gray canvas around me. I soon realize where I am. My eyes begin to water, but this time it is of sadness, not joy. My heart beats violently as I weep silently in the corner. The dust in the tent makes it hurt to breath. I do everything I can to keep the other soldiers from waking.
I wash my tear-stained face and go back to my bunk. I lay back, and try not to cry again. My heart feels heavy. I know it will be a long time before I see the familiar sight of home. ‘Twill be years before I taste the food from my family, and it will be a very, very long time until I am almost home.