She was preparing to send him off, again.
She’d sent him off countless times before. His very first day of school, and all of the other first days of school after that. Trips to visit his grandparents. A Christmas break excursion to the big city, when he was in high school. She knew the ritual by heart.
Though she had done his packing for him when he was a little boy, he had long since stopped needing her help. She hovered around him anyway, watching as he gathered his socks and underwear, some shirts, a pair of tan trousers. And his dungarees. She felt the tears welling up in her eyes, and tossing an excuse behind her, fled his room for the privacy of her own, where she muffled her sobs with her pillow.
Just this past summer he had worn those dungarees to summer camp. They were new when he left. As new as summer itself. Two weeks later, when he arrived home, they looked as though he’d had them for all of his 17 years, and then some.
Summer had been one last hurrah for him. One last chance to be young and carefree. But summers do not last forever, and neither does youth.
He was 18 now, and she was preparing to send him off once again. This time to a place meant for men, not boys.
She was sending him off to war.