Spoils of War
Margot Comstock

Fourteen years after my brother Paul was lost in WWII, we learned of his death. He’d been alive all those years, in Japan. Our parents were stunned; they felt cheated—and the loss was doubled.

I was drawn to Japan, to try to understand. I‘m not superstitious, but when I entered the town, I felt his presence. I went into a restaurant, without intent, as if I were being led. I ordered a beer, trying to shake this strange feeling.

Just as I began to relax, a shrouded man sat at my table, bringing a small cup with him. He was familiar. When he spoke, there was no doubt.

“Bob,” he said, “I’ve missed you.”

“What’s going on,” was all I could mutter. “You were alive all that time! Now we’ve lost you again. But you are alive!” Relief, anguish, love turmoiled inside me.

“No,” he said. “I’ve been given an evening to set it right, is all. I want you to take my family.”

“Your family? But why didn’t you come home?” I moaned.

Paul turned and gestured across the room. A lovely Japanese woman sat there with two children. “Dad couldn’t have accepted them. Kimiko is ready to go with you. Your nieces are eager to meet you.”

“My god,” I gasped. “My god.” My heart was already full of them. “Is this why you came here—however you came here?”

“Hell, no,” said Paul—knowing it was settled and tipping his cup, "I came here for the sake."

First published: November, 2004
comments to the writer: Knob'sWriter@iceflow.com