Laramie, Wyoming, 2044 — Six-year-old Henry Liam peered up through the open hatch to the attic, hazel eyes scanning the area for his older sister.
Not seeing her, he pulled himself onto the floor and stood. He frowned. He had been so sure he’d seen Marjorie run up here. Oh well. It wasn’t like he had wanted to play tag-hide-and-seek anyway. Besides, exploring the attic was a lot more fun.
Unfortunately, everything was covered in a thick layer of dust, and he made the mistake of sweeping some off the top of an old dresser, causing him to violently sneeze multiple times.
During the sneeze attack, he hadn’t noticed he was moving until he bumped into a chest against the wall next to the window. Unlike everything else, there didn’t seem to be a speck of dust on it.
Curious as to what was in it, he played with the lock until he was able to get it unfastened. Using all of his strength, he pushed the lid up and made sure it hit the wall so it wouldn’t fall back on him.
The first item to catch his eye was a police officer’s hat, sticking out from the protective covering it was wrapped in. He grabbed it and his eyes grew wide.
He’d seen this same hat in a lot of the pictures they had of Daddy. After studying it for a while, he placed it on his head and it slid down, covering his eyes. He tipped it up so it rested on the top of his head and reached back into the chest to rummage around.
“Henry Liam, what are you doing?”
At the sound of his mother’s voice, he jumped and the hat slid over his eyes a second time. He took it off, giving her a guilty look as she approached and handed it to her. “I’m sorry, Mommy,” he said.
Instead of being angry, she smiled. “It’s all right,” she said. She tried to smooth down his strawberry-blond hair and placed the hat back on his head. “I’m sure Daddy wouldn’t have minded.”
Henry Liam gave her a crooked smile from beneath the brim and her chest tightened. Then he looked at her with what seemed a mix of solemnity and curiosity and asked, “Mommy, was Daddy brave?”
“Yes,” she said, bending down to her son’s level. “Your daddy was so brave, he risked his life every single day in order to protect and serve others. That’s why I gave you his name as one of yours.”
Henry Liam seemed to contemplate this for a moment. “Mommy, I wanna hear another story about Daddy.”
©H.S. Kylian 2018 // All images © Hannah Killian 2013-2018
(Critiques are welcome and appreciated!)