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Return to Sender

My legs were wooden, stiff and numb, when they told me the news. I did not cry, I did not scream in rage and attack the man in the uniform who stood before me. I just… nodded and gently shut my door. I remember, dimly, sitting down on my bed, fiddling absentmindedly with my engagement ring, staring at a stain on the crème shag carpet.

I must have fallen asleep, because the next day, I woke up with tousled hair and a shrieking alarm clock that blared the time: 5: 30. Mutely, I shut it off and turned over, pulling the covers over my head before dropping off again. Feeling took too much energy.

The next time I woke up, it was to the ringing of the telephone, echoing through the kitchen. I picked it up, my voice flat.

“Yes?”

“Sarah, oh my gosh, are you alright?”

“I’m fine, mom.”

“Sarah-“

“Yes?”

There was silence on the other end of the line for a few moments before she spoke again. “We’re meeting him at the airport today.”

“Okay.”

“Get dressed, I’m coming over to pick you up.”

“Okay.”

I don’t quiet remember how I managed to dress myself in my state of disbelief and numbness, but I managed to get myself looking half-way decent before wordlessly sliding into my mother’s beat up old van.

“Are you okay, honey?” she asked, all compassion and sympathy.

I swallowed a lump in my throat. “Yes.”

She didn’t look convinced, but pulled away from the curb and we moved forward. She moved forward- I stayed static.

The airport was crowded, busy, sanitized. It’s uncaring, unsympathetic sterility soothed me, somehow. It didn’t try to comfort and it didn’t jab at the dam of raw grief I had locked away. It was soothing.

“Honey,” mom murmured. “he’s here…”
I bleakly turned, my eyes searching out a smiling face and two bright green eyes-

I saw his friends, his buddies, his Marine Corp comrades. I saw their weary faces, their tired bodies, the tracks of tears down their faces. I saw the silver that hung from a pair of dangling dog tags, clenched tight in a best friend’s hand.

I saw the body bag, and I wept.





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