Daniel's truck bounced down the old, rough rough country road. It was autumn; the trees lining the side were a display of red and orange, raining down their leaves into the grass below.
It had been a long time since he had been home. Since joining the Army, he hadn't really had a chance; he had spent most of his time overseas. It felt good; right, even; to be back in the country, smelling the crisp air on a chill morning, seeing the trees. You never appreciated trees until you had lived a year in the desert.
He turned on the road, feeling his truck sway underneath him. It was old, a gift from his father when he first graduated from basic training. It to smelled of home.
After a few minutes, the trees grew more sparse and became field. Out across the rolling hills of grass, he could see the home he grew up in. He remembered himself and his sister playing in the yard; the trampoline and how it was always covered in leaves this time of year, and the sound they made as they flew up and down with every bounce. The texture of it when they stuck to his back, and how often he had fallen.
He got closer; there were no lights in the house.
He had played tag in the yard; it was rather large. There were trees in the back that they often climbed, often perilously; one time, he remember, one broke with him on it and he fell on his back into thorny weeds; but he was thankful he had missed the fence.
There were no cars in front of the house. He pulled in to the parking area, strolled down the sidewalk to the gate in the fence. He opened it and went to the front door, his combat boots clomping heavily on the floor.
He stopped at the door and thought for moment. He thought about what he would say. Then he unlocked it and stepped across the threshold.
He looked around the empty house, the dust collecting on white walls and counters. There were still some picture hanging on the wall, but they stared blankly at him, purposeless. A few had fallen to the floor.
"Mom... Dad..." he muttered. "I'm home."
They didn't find the body until a month later, when a homeless man tried to take shelter from the oncoming blizzard. Daniel Halbrook was buried in the Arlington Cemetary, where he rests to this day.
While in Iraq, he had lost his wife, children, and both parents.
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