Another excerpt today I think. This one is from "Snow". I think the era or time frame should be explicit.
“Mark, I want to know why you came all the way to Wisconsin,” Desiree asked as they sat down at the small dining table at the apartment for a late night snack.
“It’s complicated, Lizzie.” Mark played with the pickle she placed next to the grilled cheese sandwich he had asked for. “I guess I’m looking for some support for a decision I don’t really want to have to make.”
Desiree propped her arms on the table and looked at her brother for a moment. “What decision?”
“I graduate this May,” he said and snapped his pickle in half. “My degree will be finished.”
“Yes, Mama is so excited about it.”
“I know. But I don’t think she realizes what will come with it. And I do. I’ll have . . . do have some choices to make and none of them are ones I want to make.”
“Lizzie, for God’s sake. You read the newspapers; you watch Walter Cronkite. Have you been living in a cave?” His voice rose and his eyes gleamed bright with tears she hadn’t seen since their father died. “Listen to me again. I graduate this May; my degree will be finished. I’m not married with kids like Monroe and Tal.”
Desiree dropped her head to her propped arms and fought the urge to pound her head against the wood. He was talking about Vietnam and she knew it. She looked back up at her brother. “Mark, what happened to med school? You’ve been dreaming and planning for med school since junior high.”
“I got my fifth application back. ‘Thank you for applying’, ‘our best wishes in your pursuit of a medical career’, and all that other crap that adds up to ‘tough luck, buddy.’ I’ve got two more applications still out but I can read the writing on the wall.”
Mark seemed to grow smaller in the dining chair like he was physically shrinking in front of her. The words finally began to sink into her, calling up images of fallen baby sparrows and the wounded rabbit he had brought home when he was only in the fifth grade. Big, tough football player he might have been but his grades were stellar and his scholarships were not based on his athletic ability. Medicine was his dream. Pediatrics to be specific. She had always known that. To see the big guy with children, newborns in particular, sent some girls she knew into hormonal overdrive.
“You’ll have a degree, Mark. They’ll probably send you to OCC.”
“Maybe,” he answered. “It would be a sure bet if I had joined ROTC like Monroe told me to last year.”
“Why didn’t you? It sounded like a good idea at the time,” Desiree asked.
Mark sighed and shrugged. “I thought about it. I already had the short hair and with the family history no one would have thought anything of it. But I just couldn’t. It was fine for Monroe and Tal but. Lizzie, even officers have to be ready to shoot to kill.”
Mark’s blue eyes looked hollow in his face, his mouth drawn. Desiree sat silent, not knowing what to say next.
“Dad did what he thought was right and , God knows, we were raised to believe in our country and all that. But the stories I hear from guys who’ve been in Vietnam make me want to puke. It’s not the war Dad was in. The reporters don’t tell half the story, even if they’ve been trying lately. But it’s not just that. Hell, I go deer hunting every year with Tal and his friends and every year I have to pretend I like it. I don’t. I never have. Imagine that, a southern boy who doesn’t like guns or shooting. Pull up a gun and shoot another human being? I can’t do it, Lizzie. I just can’t.”
No, it's not the most romantic part of the story. I just like Mark, my female protagonist's youngest brother.