Richard stood proudly before the full length mirror. Unlike him, it was plain and unadorned where is hung behind the bathroom door. Unlike some, he could get into trouble if he felt without a final check of his appearance, it was very important all the time but especially today. Today he stood making sure it was all perfect. He would make them proud. He gave his appearance a final once over in his mind –
Shoes – black, standard issue, buffed and polished; laces, new and taut. Socks – black, new, folded down once. Pants – new, pressed to a crease, firm blue with clean white stripe. Belt – old, black leather, polished, buffed steel buckle. Shirt – crisp, white and starched, all buttons accounted for. Jacket – dress, pressed, firm blue with clean white stripe; brass button – polished front and cuffs; lapel – embroidered insignia free of loose strands, Star of Bravery, gold strip for surviving the war; epaulette – brushed, stripe of rank Colonel. Peaked cap – polished and starched. Lastly, face – clean shaven, no hint of bruising, composed.
He had had his hair cut but no one would see under his cap but he would know. Today had to be perfect because it was not perfect at all. Richard didn’t know if he could be perfect when his friends were lying in the ground. No gold strip on the lapel for them. They were gone, and today he would stand in the cloudless sky as the rain fell down his face.