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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.
“Sarah, oh my gosh, are you alright?”
“I’m fine, mom.”
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.”
“Get dressed, I’m coming over to pick you up.”
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.