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Soldiers

My fingers tapped against the table in quick succession. My eyes darted to the clock above the mantle. Was it broken? It felt as though I had been sitting in this chair for hours, yet the hands had barely moved. My body felt like a tightly wound coil, ready to spring at any moment. I heaved myself up and began to pace around the house. When I made it to my bedroom down the hall I hoped the clock in there would be more truthful. It wasn’t. I still had an hour until six, the usual time for these things. I had been ready since noon.

My mind flashed back to when Mary O’Connell’s husband was supposed to come home. A car pulled in the driveway but Ted hadn’t stepped out. She said that a tall man in a suit and hat did. He had taken off his hat and slowly walked to the door. He had said that Ted would never be coming home.

I gave myself a mental slap and pushed those evil thoughts from my head. Roger would come home, and boy, hat a surprise he was in for! I smoothed my hands over my bulging stomach. The doctors said it would be a boy. Call it a mother’s intuition, but I knew it would be a boy, ever since the beginning, a big boy to. I looked, and felt, ready to pop and still had a month to go.

The pregnancy was taxing simply because it was my first, and with Roger gone…I was surprised I had made it that far. But the baby, he was quite the soldier too. Without him I don’t know how I would’ve survived with Roger gone. At that moment I missed Roger more than ever before. I rushed across the room to the bed side table. His letter was in my hand even before I had consciously taken it out of the drawer. It was creased all over and some of the ink was bleeding from when I had cried over it the other times I had read it. That didn’t matter, I knew it by heart anyway.

Dear Luce,
Every day I go to sleep thinking of you. And every morning I try and fool myself into believing that you’re sleeping next to me, at home in our bed. It never works. Ever since my visit in April I don’t even care about the war anymore. The only thing I hope for is coming home. And I guess once I’m there we’ll have our hands full with the baby! It kills me that I can’t be there for you, but I know you’re doing great. You’re the strongest person I know. But I’m afraid Luce, very afraid. I'm afraid that if I come home the dreams will start again. That my screams will keep you up at night, not the baby’s. I'm hoping that once the war is over everything will go back to normal, but I know that’s probably not the case. Besides, it seems as though we’ll be in Iraq forever. At home I'm haunted with vision of the war, but here I'm haunted—no, not haunted, blessed—with visions of you. For you surely are the only thing keeping me going through the war. They say I’ll be able to come home for Christmas. I should be home on December 23, and that can’t come fast enough. I love you, and I’ll see you soon.
Love always, Roger
I stared at the paper and smiled. How I missed that man. He couldn’t tell me where he was, and he couldn’t send me letters very often, so I cherished this one like gold. It had came in August, three months after I had sent him my letter telling him I was pregnant. It was the only connection I had to Roger, well, except for the baby.
I heard a noise in the driveway and my head snapped up. I ran as fast as I could to the big bay window in the living room. A black car slowly made its way up the driveway. A tall man stepped out. He was wearing a hat and had his head down. My hands clenched the curtains. It could still be Roger after all, he was very tall. The man took off his hat and my heart plummeted to the floor. He had black hair. Roger was blonde.
All of a sudden I felt a strong pang in my stomach, and I knew. The baby was coming…and Roger was not. I let out a scream, more from despair than anything else. I slowly sunk onto the couch and started to cry. I was going to be a single mom at twenty two. How was I supposed to do this? Another pain hit my stomach and I got my answer. Somehow the baby knew I needed a soldier, so now he was coming. This baby would have the best father, even if he would never get to meet him. I would tell him everyday how his dad had died protecting him. I’d tell him that his dad was at home with God, and was waiting for us. I would leave out the dreams, which I was sure was PTSD. Roger was a hero, and deserved to be remembered that way.
It started to snow outside, as the man who brought the news I already knew reached the door. I let out a long shuddering breath, and prayed. I prayed for Roger, that he had gone quickly. I prayed for our baby, who would have to grow up as the man of the house. I prayed for my soldier, who was finally going to be home.





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