FlashFic: A Monumental Day

It was boiling in DC. The humid season was in full swing. Rachel waved down a taxi after taking the Metro in and rode toward the Lincoln Memorial. She stopped the driver about halfway between it and the Washington Monument, the Reflecting Pool stretched between them. Her father would be there to meet her.

She searched the crowd. It wasn’t too bad this year, not this early in the day. She smiled as she spotted him only moments later. She couldn’t wait to show him her son’s report card and the photo she took yesterday. Rachel could already hear her father praising the boy. Robert David, named after his Grandpa. Soon he’d join them on these outings each Independence Day weekend.

“Race you to Capitol Hill, pumpkin!” Rachel shook her head.

“You can’t pull that on me, Dad. It’s an optical illusion that it’s so close. It’s a good ten miles and I’m not about to try in these strappy shoes.” His laugh always made her feel safe.

Instead, she took him past the Washington Monument to the Mall, the long lawn which led to the Capitol building. Gravel paths guarded the lawn on either side. Monuments to architecture, museums stood across narrow streets to each side of the Mall. Rachel chose the Smithsonian Castle. It was one of the smallest, but perhaps for that reason was the least crowded. She sighed at the relief of air conditioning and grabbed a lemonade at the snack bar in the carpeted lobby. They shared quiet conversation as she mentioned news of one cousin here, one aunt there.

After viewing the collections of coins and pop iconography, Rachel led the way to the statue garden. She grinned at his laugh. “You never did appreciate fine art, Dad.”

“Nothing fine about so-called modern art, Rachel.”

“How about I take you to something even you would call art?” They crossed the Mall and went into the National Gallery of Art. Dad always did like the classics, so she wound through the galleries to find him some Seurat in the Impressionists Collection. She took up people watching from the cushioned bench nearby.

The walk back beyond the Washington Monument was a slow one. It always was. Crowds and exhaustion had the smaller parts to play in it. Rachel bit the inside of her cheek to keep the tears unshed. She wished she could make this long trip more often, but her little family kept her plenty busy in Idaho. As she walked, she glanced up, nearly cringing at how soon they’d arrive at the place they’d met that morning.

Rachel shimmied and squeezed her way to the front of the crowd, murmuring “Pardon me” and “Excuse me, please.” She touched reverent fingers to the stone, slowly tracing each letter. Placing the report card and photo on the ground for him, she leaned in. She kissed her father’s name on The Wall.

“Miss you, Daddy. See you next year.”

© 2011 JC Rosen

The Vietnam Veterans War Memorial is also known as The Wall.

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14 thoughts on “FlashFic: A Monumental Day

  1. johannaharness July 1, 2011 at 7:49 am Reply

    Thank you for this, Jess. I had a sense where this was going, but still felt the emotional punch at the end. Left me in tears.

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 2, 2011 at 1:27 pm Reply

      I was concerned about the story being too obvious in its progression at first. I finally decided to just let it flow in an casual fashion which led to the ending. Thank you for the tears, Johanna. I’m glad it worked for you.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  2. Deanna Schrayer July 1, 2011 at 12:28 pm Reply

    Oh, Jess, this is so poignant. Very well told story for the holiday!

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm Reply

      Thank you, Deanna. Funny thing is that as usual, I wasn’t thinking of a holiday story. It must creep into my subconscious, though. Same thing happened for Halloween last year!

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  3. John Barnes July 1, 2011 at 1:56 pm Reply

    Somehow I knew he was a ghost, a memory perhaps, but I absolutely did not see The Wall coming. Thanks for this, another fine short, in a consistently fine line of stories. You never disappoint, always entertain.

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 2, 2011 at 1:31 pm Reply

      You’re so kind, John, thank you for your glowing comment. I decided not to work too hard to hide the truth of the father. It was implied enough. It was Rachel’s story, after all, so I focused on her experience. So glad The Wall wasn’t obvious, though.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  4. cookme25 July 1, 2011 at 9:22 pm Reply

    You and your awesomness making me almost cry. That was great. I thought at first he was dead but then he showed up and I actually thought he was with her. I really liked it!

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 2, 2011 at 1:33 pm Reply

      I’m so glad, cookie. Thanks for your nice comment. The father was important, but I didn’t think it was as important to explain who/what he was. It left room for a little twist at the end.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  5. Anne Michaud July 2, 2011 at 10:28 am Reply

    You grasped quite a strong emotion in here. *tears*

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 2, 2011 at 1:34 pm Reply

      Thanks, Anne. I think tears from a reader are a high compliment. Little confession: I was crying as I wrote the last paragraph, too.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  6. techtigger July 4, 2011 at 10:16 am Reply

    bitter sweet and lovely. You did a fine job of capturing that journey so many people take to remember their loved ones. well done

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 5, 2011 at 7:48 pm Reply

      Thanks so much, that means a lot to me. Doing tribute not only to the people who serve/served our country, but to their families as well, is important. I’m glad to know I told a story that didn’t sell them short.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  7. adampb July 8, 2011 at 3:30 am Reply

    A strong portrait of the relationship between father and daughter. Nice work.
    Adam B @revhappiness

    Like

    • JC Rosen July 8, 2011 at 5:26 pm Reply

      Thanks, Adam. I’m so glad to hear that came across. I appreciate the comment.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

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