Writing An important lesson

ShneekeyTheLost

Sodbuster
I had thought it a shame that Kent seems to be more of an afterthought in the game. If you don't understand the significance of the poppies, I urge you to look up the poem and song In Flanders Field, written just after WW I. Also felt it was a missed opportunity to not give Kent special dialogue regarding poppies, being a veteran and all.

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The cold wind of early Winter whistled through the bare branches of the trees. The pale sun tried its best to combat the chill, but to little effect. Kent stood in the graveyard of Pelican Town, but his mind was elsewhere, a much larger grave where he had laid friends to rest under a similarly cold morning. Fields of markers stood in rows, each one with their own family and friends who mourn them. No one understood him anymore, he came back an almost total stranger. For that matter, the town itself had changed and moved on. The farm plot that had lain fallow since the old man passed on was once again in use, and with it brought renewed economic growth. There was a bus route now, the Community Center had been repaired, there were actual tourists that occasionally came to town. He felt like he was a stranger in a strange land. Even his family never truly understood him anymore.

He looked over the hedgerow and saw Penny gather her students under the tree, as she does every school day. That's why, he reminded himself. That is what makes the sacrifice worth making. Even though I have become a stranger in my own home town, even though I may be forgotten to history, even though they may forget our sacrifice, it would still be worth having been made, because the children will have a chance to grow up free. Free to forget, perhaps, but still free. And that was, for him at least, enough. Enough to keep going, for one more day. One more day, that was what had gotten him through, back there. And that is what will get him through here.

His thoughts were interrupted when the schoolmarm and children made a detour from their normal route to the museum where class was held, to come visit the graveyard. No, they were clearly moving to him.

"Pardon, Mr. Kent? We've been studying a rather sensitive subject in class, and there's something the children would like to give you." Penny asked in her shy, hesitant voice.

"I... give to me? Okay, I suppose. What is it?"

Jas and Vincent both lift up their arms and reveal... poppies. Red poppies. Their faces somber. For a moment, his vision blurred from tears held back. "Mr. Kent? Penny said it was very important that we give this to you today. That it was important to never forget." little Jas spoke.

Almost automatically, he carefully took the poppy, it had already been fixed with a pin to attach to his jacket. "How? Why?" Kent asked, bewildered.

"The farmer made space in his greenhouse. When I explained to him what they were for, he immediately agreed. As for why... because we are thankful for your service, and your sacrifice." Penny replied calmly. "My father did many things that were regretful, but one of my most cherished memories was him taking me to visit, as he said, 'some old friends'. The poppies were in full bloom then, and he explained their symbology to me. So now it is my turn to teach the children that lesson."

"Here, dad. Umm... lest we forget." Kent looked down at his youngest son, and perhaps for the first time since returning home, he smiled. "Miss Penny said that it was bad, what happened, and that we will learn more when we are older, but it was important to learn about it. Because it is important we don't forget the bad things, so we remember to not do them again. Miss Penny told us about why the poppies are special. But I'm also grateful, because I have my dad back again." Vincent gave his father a tight hug. "Thank you for coming back."

Kent returned the hug, and took the flower from his son. Then after a moment, Penny cleared her throat. "Okay kids, let's get on to class."

Kent looked down at the flower in his hands, but his mind wasn't there. It was back at final formation. Every missing soldier represented by a chair with a poppy resting on it. They outnumbered the living, but they were remembered. Are remembered. Carefully, he places the flower upon a grave, his mind still in that other field, where his brothers in arms lay.

Rest easy, my friends. You will not be forgotten.
 
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