I'll Be Home

January 13, 2008
By Sarah Machovina, Grafton, OH

I would like to tell you about a miracle that had happened to me one Christmas Eve. No, it’s not about Santa Claus or about Frosty the Snowman, but about a soldier who meant the world to me. It’s about a soldier who captured my heart at a Christmas party in the confines of my friend’s home.

It was Christmas Eve and New York was bustling with people who were celebrating with their families. They all had children, parents, husbands, and friends to celebrate with, unlike me. The city was covered in white snow that sparkled from the Christmas lights. Ringers chimed bells to try to collect money for the poor and homeless. I was warm in a house, though, sitting among people I barely knew in my teenage years.

I was sitting in a living room painted a grayish blue and the carpet was white. A Christmas tree was set near the entrance, its lights glowing softly in the darkened room. People chatted and mingled with their friends as I sat on Jess’ black, leather couch alone. I had never liked parties full of people. I felt as if I intruded on their happy time with their families. Bored, I glanced at my wristwatch and noticed it had only been fifteen minutes since I arrived. I blew at a string of blond hair that escaped my ponytail. The party was going slower than I had intended it to be. I had agreed with myself to stay for an hour before I went back to my empty apartment. I glanced around to study the people’s faces to see if I knew anyone. Everyone was immersed in their own conversations with the people they knew. My eyes continued to travel around the room until my emerald green eyes met sapphire.

His hair was a chocolate brown and was cut short, revealing two sapphire blue eyes set on tan skin. He wore a white buttoned up shirt that he had rolled up to his elbows and showed off his arm muscles. He also wore faded blue jeans and white tennis shoes. I looked back at his face and noticed he was flashing a smile at me. It was a cute smile, one corner pulled up so it was crooked. My face heated up in embarrassment and my eyes retreated so I stared back at the tree.

I tried to focus on an oddly shaped ornament, twisted in blue circles, until suddenly I felt someone sit next to me on the couch. I looked to see who it was and noticed the man that had smiled at me from across the room.

“Hi,” he said in a deep baritone voice.

“Hi,” I replied meekly. I was never good with conversations with men, even though I was twenty-four and had plenty of experience.

He smiled again with his crooked smile and said, “I’m Aiden.” Aiden held out his hand and I took it.

“I’m Bella,” I replied. His hand was warm and gentle. I felt at ease and I had wondered if I was falling for him. I had just met him after all and love at first sight was impossible, especially for a girl like me.

Aiden released my hand and asked, “So my sister invited you?”

Shock consumed me in an instant. “You’re Jess’ twin brother?” I blushed with embarrassment again.

Aiden nodded and laughed. “Of course you wouldn’t know me. I was in military school when you met Jess. I guess I was a trouble maker.”

I laughed. “What did you do to get yourself in military school? Blow up a mail box?”

“No,” he laughed, “but pretty close to the mark!” Aiden and I laughed together on the couch, enjoying ourselves. We continued to talk for the rest of the night and the party. Soon people were leaving for their homes and I was the last guest to leave.

Before I walked out of the door, into the cold, Aiden grabbed my arm and pulled me into his arms. He pointed towards the ceiling and I followed his hand to see mistletoe hung above us. I blushed and let his head bend toward mine. He kissed me gently and I knew we were meant to be together. When he pulled away, he also had the same recognition deep in his sapphire eyes.

For a year, Aiden and I dated each other. Our feelings grew even stronger and we were soon married on Christmas. I was also pregnant with our first child, a baby girl we planned to name Rose. Aiden and I were happy together in our apartment until one event destroyed it all for me.

It was June of 2002 when Aiden had received a letter from the United States Armed Forces. It said he was to be deported for active duty in Afghanistan and wouldn’t come back until the end of December, our special month.

“Aiden,” I cried, “why do you have to go? Can’t they find someone else to do it? It’s our anniversary and it’s Christmas!” Tears streaked my face as I lie in our bed. Aiden sat next to me and pulled me into his arms.

“I have to go, Bella,” he whispered. “It’s my job. As for Christmas, I’ll be home. I’ll get the job done and I’ll return home before you know it. You don’t have to worry about me.”

I smacked him in the arm and choked back a sob. “I do worry about you, Aiden. I love you and don’t want to lose you. I don’t know what I’ll do without you if I lost you.” Aiden hugged me tightly for what seemed like for eternity.

Aiden left a week later and I received no letters from him in the months after. Soon December had come upon me and I had given up hope that Aiden would come back. Snow began to fall gently around New York City. Homes and buildings were decorated with lights and decorations. I glanced with sadness as I had passed couples while I went shopping for the baby I was going to give birth to in a few weeks. I missed Aiden and wanted him to write to me before the holidays.

I was shopping in a baby store when my cell phone started ringing ‘Let It Snow’ and I answered the phone.

“Hello?” I said in the phone.

A deep voice asked, “Are you Mrs. Reagan? This is Colonel Brink.”

“Yes,” I replied, a little worried. “Is my husband alright?”

Fear tugged at me when there was a pause before the reply. “Mrs. Reagan, I’m afraid I have some bad news. Aiden Reagan is missing in action. There was an explosion a week ago in his camp and we were unable to find him.”

I fell to the ground in shock. “WH…what? You can’t find him? How can that be?” Tears had begun to spill out of my eyes and my body shook violently with choked back sobs. Strangers stared at me with worried looks and one looked as if he was tempted to ask me if something was wrong.

“Mrs. Reagan, we believe Aiden to be dead,” Colonel Brink said quietly.

“No,” I cried not believing this would happen before Christmas. “He can’t be dead. He promised to be home!”

Two weeks passed since the incident in the store. Depression had firmly hovered over me without leaving an escape. The military continued to call me and ask if I would hold a funeral for Aiden, but I had refused. I continued to cling onto hope of Aiden being alive and he was just playing a prank on us. Jess tried to visit me, but I had locked myself in my apartment and refused anyone.

Soon Christmas Eve came and I had to admit that Aiden would never return. He was dead and there was nothing I could do, but try my best to raise our child alone. It was a depressing thought that Rose would never meet her father and never would know how great and strong he was. I sat on my couch and watched the train around the Christmas tree travel in circles until I felt a sharp pain in my stomach.

I clutched at my stomach and noticed I was in labor and needed to get to a hospital. My phone started ringing but I ignored it while I grabbed my packed bag for the hospital. Soon the ringing irritated me and the pain worsened.
I picked up the phone and growled, “What? I don’t have time for this!”
“Are you alright, Bella?” It was Jess.
“No,” I barked as my body convulsed. “Could you meet me at the hospital? I’m in labor.”
“Oh my god!” Jess shouted. “Call an ambulance!”
“I was about to until you called,” I growled angrily. Jess suddenly hung up and I called the ambulance. I rested on the couch until the bus arrived to take me to the hospital.
The sun was bright when I woke up and realized they had to do a C-section to get the baby. Jess had met me there but she left when they put me to sleep. I was eager to see my baby and sat up to call the nurse. I froze though when I realized a man was holding my baby in the chair across the room. Aiden smiled at me gently as he rocked Rose in his arms.
“Hi Bella,” he whispered. “I told you I would be home for Christmas.” I cried happily, as Aiden came to me and embraced me.
It’s been fifteen years and fifteen wonderful Christmases, but to this day, I remember the best gift I was given, Aiden.

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