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It was a warm, clear summer night. The fire was warm, and our favorite songs were on the radio. Everyone was in a good mood. You were either dancing or being held by the one you loved.
“Lena! Lena, come dance with me!” Mallory had an immense passion for dancing. Even without music, she always seemed to have some part of her body moving to a beat.
“Sorry, Mal,” Jeremy called back, “she’s mine for the rest of the night.” Mallory just laughed and found another partner to dance with. I would have said no anyways. I wasn’t the best dancer. My long, lanky body doesn’t allow me to do the things good dancing takes.
“Hey Lena, what do you say we get out of here? I’ll walk you back home.”
“Why don’t we just drive back?” I asked him, even though I loved taking long walks with him. “You have your car.”
”I’d rather walk. Besides, it’s a nice night.”
We said our goodbyes to everyone and then the two of us left the party.
Walking back, Jeremy was doing his impersonation of Coach Wilmer. That was just one of the things Jeremy did that made me laugh the most. He could always do an amazing impression of anyone.
“…and you will always be a winner even if the scoreboard tells you otherwise, and even if I spit when I talk to you, and even if I walk with a limp when I’m not even injured, and even if I look like I’m chewing tobacco when I’m really not, and am getting overweight, and curse you with words that aren’t even real and—“
“He never said those things!” I laughed.
“Well, he doesn’t have to, it’s obvious.”
“I knew this would happen.” I said, still grinning.
I pointed behind me, “My house is that way.”
“Is it now? Well I guess I lost my sense of direction. Lena, do you know what this means? Were lost! Can you believe it! Oh, what are we going to do now?” He fell to his knees like he was begging to God. I knelt down with him, trying to go along with his game.
“Oh, don’t worry, Jeremy, everything will be alright. I think I know where to go.” I pulled him up and started heading the wrong way again.
We walked hand-in-hand. It was quiet for about a block. I was just about to break the silence, but he beat me to it.
“Lena,” he whispered, “there is something I need to tell you.” The way his voice sounded was like big bricks were being chucked at my stomach.
“What is it?” I asked, trying not to sound as nervous as I probably looked.
“I’ve been drafted. They want me to go to Vietnam.” I tried to find words to say, but they just wouldn’t come out. “Say something, Lena. Lena, I’m leaving in one month.” Finally it came out. It was all the questions being held in my head bursting out.
“Is this some kind of a joke, Jeremy? When did you find this out? Why didn’t you tell me this sooner? You can’t leave, Jeremy, you can’t. You can’t leave me. Why are you leaving me?”
“Lena, everything will be alright, just don’t—“
“Alright? How can you say that? We are going to be apart for…who knows how long, and you’re saying that it’s going to be alright?”
He didn’t say anything, for he knew I was right. He stared at me, like he was trying as hard as he could to read my mind. I just stared back at him. He had beautiful, dark brown hair that fell just above his emerald eyes. How I would miss those eyes meeting mine. I would miss the arms that were drawing me towards the warm, strong body that I will miss as well. I held on as tight as I could, hoping that it was enough to keep him from leaving. I knew that was impossible, he already seemed so far away, and I knew he felt the same.
The day I was dreading finally came. The cab drove off like it was speeding at one hundred an hour. It disappeared. I did not chase after it like you see in the movies, that would be too weak and useless. My mother and Jeremy’s parents were hugging in the front yard and I felt unbelievably alone.
Time dragged on, but felt like it was moving too fast. Before I knew it, it was Thanksgiving. I said I was thankful for Jeremy fighting for our country, as well as being okay and alive. But I didn’t know that for sure. Everyday I suffered until I received a letter from him, and even then I still suffered. I did not know what could have happened after he had written the letter. My imagination runs away with me. There were days I thought I was going crazy. Dreams I’ve had where I was fighting in a war, and I was all alone.
Life went on, but how could it? How could it just keep going on? It was New Year’s Eve, and Mallory and I had been in New York for a couple of days. It was beautiful at night with all the lights. We were going to Town Square for the New Year’s Eve celebration. But when we got there we decided that it was too crowded, so we just walked around Central Park. Mallory was babbling excitingly about something that I was not sure of when suddenly a soldier in uniform walked by. We both stopped and watched as he passed, for what seemed like minutes.
Finally, Mallory asked, “Are you happy?” It sounded to me as if she had been waiting to ask that question.
“I miss Jeremy.”
“I miss him too.” And we kept walking.
After a flat tire, cracked windshield, and a broken heater, we finally arrived back home to Warren Pennsylvania, but things didn’t get any better. In fact, they got worse. I walked in my home to find my parents sitting quietly in the living room and the warm, fresh scent of blueberry cobbler. Something didn’t feel right.
“How was your trip, sweetheart?” My mother’s voice cracked.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. “What has happened?”
“Sit down Lena, we need to talk.” Those words again, only coming from my father, and this time the effect on me was worse. I stayed standing.
“Tell me what has happened.” I demanded.
“Well, darling,” my mother’s voice cracked again, “Jeremy’s father dropped by a while ago and he told us some bad news. Lena, Jeremy has been killed. He was in a helicopter accident.” I fell to the ground and wept. My parents tried to gently lift me back to my feet, but it was no use, all I could do was lie there and cry.
A few hours passed, and I was locked in my room. My mother finally came up and asked me to come with her over to Jeremy’s house to give them the cobbler she made and that they would really like to see me. I went, but not for my mother or Jeremy’s parents, but for myself, to feel the presents of Jeremy all around me. We only stayed long enough to exchange a few stories about Jeremy, and then my mother and I left.
Two days later we had a funeral for Jeremy. I did not cry, it was too sad to cry. The two soldiers that delivered the news to Jeremy’s parents shook my hand before they left. Their hands were cold and their eyes were grey. I had wondered if Jeremy’s eyes where still as green as the used to be.
Everyone had left. I stood alone staring at his grave wiping snow away every time his name would get slightly covered. I blew in my hands to get them warm, suddenly my shivering body went still and I felt warm. I knew that Jeremy was holding me.