Future past of now

September 17, 2008

A name, “Huff,” is sewn on his backpack. The backpack is made of camouflage cloth. So is his Army uniform. I’m standing behind the young man. We’re stuck in an airline aisle, inching toward our seats.

“Headed to I-raq,” he says when another passenger asks. The soldier’s tone is flat, inflection free, practiced.

I study his buzz-cut scalp. A precise narrow scar u-turns from temple to crown.

When he sits, I see his face for the first time. Boyish, like those in my high school yearbook left open on my desk today before dawn. One is a of close friend who went to war nearly forty years ago. He came back.

I’ll be reunited with him tomorrow, a moment I’ve imagined so vividly that memory has preceded the future.

And what of Huff’s future forty years hence? Does he have one? Will he stand in line again, bound for his own happy reunion?

As Portland disappears beneath us, I search the distant horizon for memories of what’s to come. Land and sky meld into a shroud of haze, impenetrable.