He’d Promised Her

Arlington National Cemetery, Washington D.C., USA | Marcel Wirtz, Google Maps

Arlington National Cemetery, Washington D.C., USA | Marcel Wirtz, Google Maps

They sat side by side on his mom’s couch, legs not quite touching. Sue Ellen twisted her hands in her lap when the announcer came on. Jimmy reached for her, but her eyes were fixed on the television.

“Let’s just watch.”

He swallowed. He’d promised to marry her next June. He’d promised her they wouldn’t bring back the draft, he promised her everything would work out okay. But now, instead of watching Mayberry RFD, or cruising Shoreline Drive, or necking out at the Point, they were here, doing this.

The congressman stepped up to the jar and pulled out the first capsule. Once in hand, he offered it to the official. The pair hardly dared to breathe as the capsule was opened, the strip of paper unwound from its case.

“September 14…September 14 is 001.”

Her breath caught; his head fell.

Of all the things they could have done instead.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

To learn more about the 1969 Vietnam Draft Lottery, click here.


  1. I guessed this was about the Vietnam draft, but without your note at the bottom, I’m sorry I wouldn’t have known.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It doesn’t give much clue now that I think about it. Thanks for reading!


      1. Not for us non-Americans. I’m guessing those involved would pick up on the clues

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a horrible tension you portray here! I can’t even imagine how horrible it must have been to be one of those many families, sitting there waiting for that news that would change their lives so drastically.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, such dread. I was reading something to the effect they were aiming for young men around 19 who had not started families…as if that would make it easier on anyone.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not easier, no. But then, leaving behind wives and children feels like it would be even harder. There are no good answers there.


  3. Great story.

    My number would have been 54, so I would have joined the Marines to avoid the army. Depending on the year I was born, I could have been at Khe Sanh, the fall of Saigon, or the battles for Danang. This is a poignant reminder of why we need a draft, because with a citizen military our leaders have to be much more selective about solving problems by sending in troops. With a minimum wage mercenary force such as we have today, it’s easy because if they complain all they need to say is “you signed up for this.” Thank you for your service is optional.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I never looked at it that way, you make a good point. Glad you were not born back then. My draft number would have been 55. Guess I’d have been right behind you in line.


      1. Yeah! Combat buddies!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Would we have wound up in the same place do you think?


      3. Women were exempt, so no.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Well I thought if we were changing our birth year we could change our gender too 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Aww, gee, didya havta choose my borning day for this??? Great take on the prompt and I’m sure many a young man (or as would be today: woman) went through this fear. I remember insisting on signing up when I was in high school, despite my Mom telling me I couldn’t. I went nuts! I demanded to sign. I even got on a bus and took a trip to the state capital to harrang our legislative personages to let me sign up. Finally, I was permitted, and I received a number. I’ve got my card here somewhere (packed in my cedar box). My whole family (‘cept Mom) had served and I wouldn’t be denied that opportunity! But, for all that, I thank God that I have never been called. ❤ Bless those that were who, like my brother and my lover, were called and later KIA.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry for your loss, Bear. You are some kind of hero though–fighting to fight for your country.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. […] to Karen and Josh for facilitating this unique challenge. To join click the […]

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Karen,

    Those were tense times. My brother in law was drafted and served in Vietnam. thankfully, he returned. Good story that had me on the edge of my sofa.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rochelle. So glad your brother in law made it back. So tragic for the many young men who didn’t–or, like in your story, came back forever changed.


  7. So funny as I just binge-watched “This is Us” in which the brother’s number was called. I had heard about the lottery but when you see it played out, it as tense as you’ve wonderfully written this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dale! I have heard so many good things about that show. I still haven’t watched it. You’ve reminded me I need to bump it up on my list!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.