the Composition
for Honours Class,
Howard University,

  Authors & Artists


Faces & Voices 4
Faces & Voices 5

A Farewell to Arms
Phyllisia Gant
Indianapolis, Indiana - Legal Communications

        She stood at the window looking down the sun drenched street, but seeing only the blue shirted bowlegged postman as he slowly made his way from house to house, the bulging post bag bouncing heavily on his hip. When he stopped at her gate her heart nearly skipped a beat. Today. The letter from her husband would be here today. She ran out the door and down the steps of her open multi- family apartment. She rushed to the gate to greet the mailman. She grinned at him.
        “Anything from Keith today?” Jazari asked.
        “Yep,” he answered as he passed her mail. “You know we surely appreciate what our boys are doing over there,” he commented.
        “Thank you, we’re all very proud of him,” she told him as he left.
It seemed that the only thing Jazari did on Saturday mornings was to wait for a letter from her husband. He was an air-force lieutenant stationed in Guam. Although he was not directly involved in the fighting she stilled prayed adamantly for his safety everyday. She sauntered to the steps of her building and sat down to sift through the letters. She placed bills, junk mail, and other advertisements on the step. She gingerly held the letter from Keith. She always opened it right away and read the first few lines. Then she would set it aside and read some more of it later. Usually she would try to make it stretch for an entire day before completing her precious letter. This way she could feel as though Keith was with her and she could answer every inch of his letter, not leaving out a single detail.
Dearest Jazari,
Hey J. I hope this missive finds you well. I miss you so very much. I wish I could hug you and hold you right now.

        She put the letter back in the envelope and picked up the rest of her mail. She walked slowly up the stairs to their apartment. She pushed the door open and placed the mail, including Keith’s letter, on the desk at her right. Jazari decided to use her extra energy from the excitement in hearing from her husband to clean their home. She became a cleaning machine. Tackling the bathroom, bedroom, living room, and kitchen with such ferocity that she eradicated the dust and worked up an appetite. She walked to the refrigerator and opened the door to discover that there was hardly anything to eat. It was time to go grocery shopping. Jazari called her best friend Lisa to ask her for a lift to the store. She changed from her cleaning clothes into her Howard sweatshirt and gray leggings. While she was waiting for Lisa to arrive, Jazari picked up her husband’s letter and began to read some more.
        It is so hot here. I never thought I’d miss those Indiana winters. I hated shoveling snow while your father supervised me from the window. I despised having to get up early to clean off the cars, salt the walkway, and help the neighborhood kids get to the bus. I really loathed the two-hour drive to Fort Benjamin every morning. Now I appreciate the hot breakfasts that you and your mother would prepare. I value the laughter of the kids as they threw snowballs on the corner every morning. J, I’m really grateful for those cold nights when we were snuggled close on the couch and ate popcorn with the family while watching M*A*S*H. Some of these guys don’t have folks and I really understand the importance of family and duty now.
        Jazari heard the distinctive horn of her friend Lisa as she waited outside. She grabbed her shopping bag and her pocketbook and left her home after locking the door. The girls had a wonderful time at Cubs, the local supermarket. They sampled and saved coupons as they brought groceries. Shopping always made her feel better, even if it’s just at the grocery store. After a few hours the girls returned to Jazari’s apartment. Lisa helped Jazari take her bags up and put them on the kitchen counter before leaving. Jazari hurriedly put away her groceries. Next she went downstairs to her parent’s home. Her mother owned the buildings that make up Margaree Maples and her sisters and grandmother had their own floor in the same building. So, although they were a tight-knit family, they weren’t on top of each other, per se.
        “I got a letter from Keith today, mommy,” Jazari informed her mother as she came through the door using her key.
        “Oh, how wonderful,” her mother exclaimed. Her grandmother and oldest sister were watching “their girls” Serena and Venus Williams on TV. “Actually, your father and I were just discussing the plans to build another complex on the west side of town,” her mother informed her. Real estate was more Kelly’s expertise than hers. She smiled at her mother who never played favorites and kept all three of her girls informed on the family business. She looked at her father who was shaking his head.
        “I don’t think it’s a good idea this year, Nia,” her father said to her mother. Just then Faith breezed through the door.
        “If not now daddy, then when?” she asked, immediately involved in the conversation. Faith was always nosy.
        “I think that now’s a great time to buy the land, just hold on to it, the property value is sure to increase and you can develop it later,” Kelly declared.
        “It’s the American way,” her grandmother chimed in, not truly caring for the outcome.
        “I don’t know mom, Kelly’s the corporate attorney,” Jazari said.
        “And you’re the writer, which makes your opinion just as valuable,” her mother declared.
        “And what am I?” Faith whined.
        “The diva,” everyone agreed. That evening they ate dinner together and played Monopoly before the girls scattered in their different directions. Faith left to prepare for a date, Kelly excused her self to go work on an upcoming deposition, and Jazari left as well to go work. But as she sat at her desk, she couldn’t focus on her column for Essence. She decided to shower and go to bed. She just couldn’t get to sleep. She turned on the light on her nightstand and picked up Keith’s letter.
        Most fellas would think about death in a time like this. I don’t. I can’t. I think about my future and the things I plan to accomplish. I think about kids and teaching my son to play football. I think about my daughter’s first date. Mostly, I think of you and all the happiness that we’ve had together. George Sand said, “There’s only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.” Prince, the artist, said, “Love’s too weak to describe just what I feel for you. Truly I adore you.” Make the most of every moment, love, and know that I am by your side. Truly I adore you.
        Jazari put the letter under her pillow, wiped away the lonely teardrops, closed her eyes and went to sleep.

© 2002 Howard University
(First Published in limited print edition, An Anthology of Verse, Prose & Art, by the Composition for Honours Class, Howard University, Spring 2002. Professor E.R. Braithwaite)
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