I am not in favor or against the government; I just work for them. Hell, let’s just put it bluntly—I am owned by them. It’s not all bad, though. It’s my job to deliver tax refunds, among other things, so many people are happy to see me. Of course, it’s also my job to deliver bad news as well. They usually know what to expect. I can tell by the way they approach me—the sigh, the slumped shoulders, the slow gait.
One of the worst things I have had to do is deliver a letter from the armed forces informing the next of kin of a young man who has been killed in battle. I see the anxious mother approaching, expecting news of her boy’s health and well-being from across distant and foreign lands. My flag is lowered and she knows I have something for her. Once the letter is in her hands, I see the moment when her eyes rove across the words that explain that her son will not be returning to his homeland. It’s amazing how the very smallest of muscles in the human face can reveal such profound emotions. The slightest facial changes tell a heart-wrenching story in a matter of seconds. I do not move as she crumples to the ground as if pierced, herself, by the same bullet that has taken away her child.
I see her many times thereafter, but I am now cursed. She despises me, because I have delivered this news that has changed her forever. Sometimes she cannot bear to face me and so she sends her husband.
“Anything interesting?” she asks from the edge of the yard.
“Nope,” he replies. “Just bills and a flyer from JCPenney.”
My metal door shuts with a squeak and the couple slowly return hand-in-hand to their front porch.
Copyright © 2021 Brandon Ellrich