"Let me shine my shoes real quick before we go hun, they're pretty scuffed up."

"Alright, I'll be finishing my makeup. Lets hurry so we arent late."

"You got it."

Lay out the towel on the floor, gotta protect the carpet.

The can of polish opens with a dink. That smell, strong and balmy.

wwsh wwsh... wwsh wwsh... Raspy and soft.

Timed.

Repetitive.

Suddenly I'm a child.

Lying on the floor, motionless and sleepy in an ocean of blue-green carpet. German radio is playing in the background. The TV is on, turned to the Armed Forces Network, but the sound is down. The silent TV is the only light. I can barely hold my eyes open.

Dad is going away again. I can see his right boot floating a few feet in front of me, polished like a mirror. Perfectly clean, I could watch the TV's reflection in its toe if I could see through the sleepy tears. I refused to go to bed hours ago.

"Its Friday, let him stay up with you."

wwsh wwsh... wwsh wwsh.

I know once the other boot is done, its bedtime. No more arguing. Its over and he'll be gone and I'll be worried and he could...

I dont know.

This brush, older than I am. Bristles eternally black and softer than love from a career of military spit shines. Wooden handle, harder than hate and worn smooth. Dad handed it to me one day as an afterthought while cleaning out a nightstand.

Again I am trying like mad to grasp some fragment of him. 24, still that sleepy child. Still hypnotized by the wooshing brush. I sit there shining my left shoe for 10 minutes. I'm not even noticing the shine. I just dont want the sound to quit.

Please God make these scuffs deep, and I will polish them forever.

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