by Gloria Viglione
Afternoon came slowly, the way a
blush comes to a mature woman’s cheek.
Catastrophe is not too strong a word, referring to her
diary entry dated February 1st, 1953, when all
eyes were on the new release of “Roman Holiday,”
flabbergasted by a fresh, beautiful, unknown sprite named Audrey Hepburn—
gifted with an unmatched stage presence and a dazzling
heart that shone through the timeless film’s romance.
It is, you see,
just the perfect, unfortunate backdrop for Agnes,
knowing that her enlisted husband, fondly nicknamed
“Leathered Lawrence,” might not be home by Valentine’s Day.
Memories of the ranch where he proposed—her auburn hair
nuzzled in his tender embrace—the song “I Love Paris” that she called
our song and played every day of his deployment. Her diary states the very
place where he first kissed her, that first horseback ride, coming upon a
quail’s nest and speckled eggs lined with twigs and beard grass,
roofed by a blooming manzanita bush. And then, the
surprise of lightning sparks across the sky and a
thunderous clash, she wrote, as our lips met.
Upstairs, off the bedroom balcony, her diary goes on to note, in the
very ranch house that his grandfather built, hangs a hand-stitched, heart-shaped
windsock that can be seen from the far gate. Oh! He must be home in time!
X-rays of his handsome face are etched in her memory. Please bring him home. Surely this
year he will return by Winter’s end! Lawrence is her North Star, the
Zenith of her existence.