I could see his silhouette in the frosted glass of the front door, and opened it before he could knock.

“No, no,” he said, pulling it closed. “You’re doing it all wrong, sis. It’s got to be a big production, a surprise.” I’d caught a snatch of khaki and crease before the latch clicked, though, so I had some idea what I was in for.

A moment passed, and Caleb knocked. I opened the door and took him in, wearing a khaki uniform and a fresh buzz cut. I’d never seen him look anywhere near as polished.

“Well?” he said. “What do you think, sis?”

I know you’re supposed to be supportive, and respect the thin red line and all, but I have kind of a bad habit of shooting from the hip in situations like that. “Is this a joke? What were you thinking? What will Mom and Dad say? What about your music?”

The last question seemed to sting the most–Caleb had, after all, long held ideas of making a career as a singer or performer, with many a lazy summer day spent strumming a guitar in the park.

“This doesn’t mean I’m giving up any of that,” Caleb said. “But I want to try something with a little structure, to be part of something bigger than me, get a little money for myself and college.” He set his peaked cap on an end table. “Is that so wrong?”

I didn’t answer; instead, I just looked at that cap. It would return to the end table many times over the following years, each time with a little bit more gold.