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Rated: E · Short Story · Romance/Love · #2246996
Julie needs to finish before the overseas phone cal from Marshall
Word Count: 920

The Surprise

Julie looked at the large clock on the conference room wall. She let out a slow breath trying to calm her nerves. Everything needed to be completed in two hours. She could do this. Marshalls’s weekly video call was scheduled for 7:00 pm local time. Each of the calls during the last two weeks was canceled because he was out on maneuvers or something. The man on the other end couldn’t give her any details because of security reasons. Julie looked at the ceiling and sent up a silent prayer that this week everything would go right. One year, two months and 4 days had passed since she said goodby to Marshall as he got on the ship, headed out for the Mediterranian. He wasn’t due back until September.

She headed for the stairs leading down to the main department of Gregor’s Department Store. Mr. Gregor asked her a week ago to set up a window display with each day of March represented somewhere in the window. He gave her two adjoining windows, a total of 12 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 6 feet high to create the display. The fronts of the large display cases were presently covered in paper with the words “March Celebration Comin Soon”, spray-painted on the paper for the passerby on the sidewalk to see. The few things left to do consisted of tweaks and the removal of the paper from the front windows.

Julie entered the window sections through the small hatch door in the back of the section closest to the main entrance.  Over the past week, she spent hours checking the internet, magazines, old calendars, and books looking for designated holidays. For each one she found, she came up with a representation of the day.

Some of the things were sitting on the floor like the little red wagon filled with stuffed puppies for March 31st, Little Red Wagon Day, and March 23rd, National Puppy Day. A refractor telescope for March 16th, Goddard Day, stood off to one side with a manikin dressed in a Girl Scout uniform representing March 12, National Girl Scout Day. Other things sat on stools and chairs. A pile of Dr. Susse books sat on the seat of a comfortable wingback chair for March 2nd, Dr. Susse Birthday, and March 4th, World Book Day.

Julie was especially proud of half of one of the windows dedicated to the Armed Services. She wanted to do something to honor her husband and the others with him. She placed a manikin dressed in a Vietnam Era uniform, for March 29, Vietnam War Veterans Day, standing in the middle of the floor with an American Flag hanging behind him. The soldier held a thin open box in his hand containing a National Medal of Honor, for March 25: National Medal of Honor Day. Another man and woman stood just behind him dressed in a Doctor and Nurse uniform wearing army caps for March 19th, Nurses Day, and March 30th Doctors Day.

The backdrop to the joined sections was trees, flowers, small leprechauns, and other woodland animals scattered around the indoor grass-covered floor. March was the beginning of spring and filled with leprechaun high jinks. Hanging from the ceiling and taped on the walls, were shamrocks with the dates and their meanings clearly printed on them.

Julie took one more look around moving a couple of things a few inches. She huffed when one of the manikins fell backward. Luckily it didn’t go all the way to the floor, ending up propped on the back wall. When she tried to fix it several of the close shamrocks fell. Julie stopped and took a deep breath. If she kept rushing, her history told her it would only get worse.

After she carefully put everything back in order and looked around one more time, she looked at her watch. She was just going to make it home in time. Carefully she pulled the paper off the front windows, being sure not to hit anything with its edges. She set the paper outside the back door hatch and turned for one more look at the best window display she ever completed. She froze. Standing on the sidewalk, hat in hand, was her husband holding a bouquet of flowers. He smiled and gave her a small finger wave.

In disbelief, Julie walked to the window and put her hand out. Finally, her brain engaged. She let out a shriek and ran out the back hatch not bothering to close it. She ran to the entry doors. When she made it to the sidewalk she found Marshal with his hat back on his head and the flowers on the sidewalk. He stood there with his arms spread. Julie jumped into his arms, wrapping her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist. She peppered kisses anywhere she could find skin. “You weren’t due home yet. Are you alright? How did you get Leave? Oh, Marshall, I’ve missed you so much. How long can you stay home?”

Marshall backed up to the bench on the other side of the sidewalk, sat, and held her on his lap. “Shhhh, sweetheart. Let me say a few words ok?”

She nodded, without looking up from where her face was buried in his neck. She felt his hands rubbing up and down her back. “I’m home for good, Love. I didn’t re-sign up. We have been apart long enough.”

Julie hugged him tighter. He was home. He wasn’t going away again.
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