howard spent years looking for steve

to walk to where you are sleeping

Steggy Week, day 4
Prompt: Songs, Poems, and Quotes

Summary: Peggy goes searching for Steve.

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The woman who owns the grocery on Peggy’s corner was born at just the wrong time. Her father was a cruel man before he came back shell-shocked from the First World War and she married young to leave his house. Her husband was also young, a good, strong man who took over the store from his uncle and worked to support her and the twin sons they had when they were barely twenty. He was just under the age for army induction when he was drafted but he didn’t plead that he was too old. He was fit and strong - he never paid a delivery fee if he could possibly walk supplies to the store himself - and they inducted him. He stayed stateside; his death was a training accident. One of the twins joined the navy, one the army, but there was no safety on land or sea. Peggy hadn’t watched the three blue stars turn gold in the window, but her eyes catch on the flag every time she passes by.

“Yes, I suppose they would,” the woman says, mopping her eyes when Peggy tells her this. She gives a little laugh. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to tell you all of this. I just thought you seemed as if you would understand.”

And the woman’s pain lives in Peggy so easily that she has to smile and make excuses to rush away. Because she didn’t lose a husband, she didn’t lose any children. She lost a good man who she might have someday, or in another life, married. But no matter how she tries to tell herself that it doesn’t compare, she does understand the entirety of that grief with a precision that shocks her.

“Enough is enough,” she tells herself most mornings, when she wakes up gritty-eyed and already teary from dreaming. “Enough is enough,” when she wants to tell Steve about her day, when she spots hair like his from the corner of her eye, when she has another lonely cup of tea at her table, when she wants just a bit of his optimism to drive her onward. “It was two years out of more than twenty, it is time to be done with mourning, enough is enough.”

And then one night she opens her eyes into the darkness of her bedroom and tells herself, “Enough.”

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