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My Military Homecoming

It’s been years since I last saw your face. I haven’t felt your loving arms wrapped around my body in so long, I’m starting to forget what they felt like. Most of you is just a distant memory. Except for your eyes. They burn bright in my memory blinding me from all else.

Today, someone at work looked up “Military Homecoming Videos.” A few others joined him and they all sat watching. I stood behind them. Unmoving. They smiled and cried tears of joy. I walked away slowly not to disturb their happiness. This was the moment my memories of you came flooding back. At first it was hard to maintain my composure. I calmed down a little and slowly started the go through the memories.

I focus. First, on the day I met you. I take a seat at the chair in my cubicle and close my eyes so I can loose myself in the memory. The warm breeze felt so real when I focused hard enough. Fourteen. That’s how old I was in this memory. That’s how old I was when we met. I had just moved to town and some neighborhood girls were picking on me. You came over and told them to stop. I don’t know whether the liked you or were afraid of you but they stopped nevertheless. You were fifteen. Your hair was smoothed back and the grin on your face gave me a feeling of unworthiness. You took my hand and we walked. It seemed like we could have left this cruel world at that moment. It would have been the perfect chance to runaway and never look back. But we didn’t. We were after all just kids. The memory faded until all that was left was the warm breeze.

I focus again. This time trying to find a memory that will last. My mind brings me to our first date. It was only months after we had met. When you asked me to go to the movies with you. It took hours of convincing my mom to left me go until she finally agreed to it. When you showed up at my house the butterflies in my stomach made me feel like I could fly. We walked to the theater laughing the entire way. I don’t even remember what movie we saw because I was lost in your eyes the entire time. The memory ceased. I didn’t want to get to the end of it. I knew that if I did I would see you walking me back home and holding my hand for the last little part of it. I would see our first kiss. The one on my front porch that both my brothers saw. I wanted to keep that memory for another time. I quickly shake even the thought of it away.

This time without even trying another memory comes to my mind. This one I try to shake away. I know it will bring me to tears but the memory plays on. I’m nineteen in this memory. My hair was recently cut. I’m wearing a yellow and white sundress and some new white glasses. We are walking through the park. The sun is setting over the horizon and casts brilliant shades of pinks, oranges, and blues all across the sky. All around us are people having fun in the last light of the day. Just as I’m about to suggest we leave for a nice dinner you do something unexpected. You walk in front of me and get down on your knees. I gasp. I still remember every word you said. “I love you. Yes, I’ve said this to other people but I never really meant it until now. I finally found the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. It’s you.” You spoke trembling. Your hand dung around in your left pocket for a second before you pulled out a small wooden box. I stood completely still, wanting the next words you spoke to be the best moment of my life. Your hands slowly opened the lid to the box revealing a simple silver ring with a small jewel on it. You cleared your throat. “Will you marry me?” Everyone in the park leaned a little closer waiting for my response. “Yes, yes. A million times yes.” My voice cracked at the last part of the answer because a steady flow of tears had found their way to my eyes. Everyone around the park applauded. You stood up and hugged me. I could almost swear it was real. However, when I opened my eyes I was back in my chair. The tears were real just as I had suspected. I was visibly shaking.

I tried to get back to my work but my mind told me to go on. I slowly sat in the corner of my cubicle knowing this reaction would be even worse.

I’m making dinner. It’s a few months after our wedding and we had just moved into a small apartment. I hear your keys outside the door and stop cooking. You come in slowly with a big smilie on your face. I thought about what could have been so exciting, you did after all spend the day job hunting. You sit me down at our small table. When you grab my hand I know something happened that I wouldn’t like. You start to explain that you went to recruiting office today for the military. You tell me about all the good things that could come out of you joining. Tears start to form in my eyes. You explain that this could be one of the best opportunities you’ve ever had. I shake my head slowly. Then our first real fight. You start to scream at me that we need the money and it’s not my decision anyway. My mind is racing and tears of worry and sadness quickly turn to that of anger. I force the memory away.

I’m rocking back and forth in my corner and wondering what else I could have done to convince you not to go. My mind is telling me it’s time for the final memory. I try pushing it away but it’s too powerful.

Four years after our first real fight. I couldn’t stop you from joining. I was worried at first but I got used to you being gone for months at a time. It had been exactly four months since the last time I saw you. You were home for one week before you left me here again. Alone. I had just come home from work and was reading a book on the couch. I hear a knock at the door. Wondering who it could possibly be I slowly walk towards the door and open it just a crack. Two men in uniforms are there. I swing to door open and collapse on the floor. I know what’s coming. I don’t think I ever cried that hard in my life. One of the men spoke with a soft voice confirming my initial thoughts. You were gone. My entire body was numb and all that I could see was blurry figures. The men left leaving me to myself. I sit. My entire body was as if it was under a spell. I went through at least three boxes of tissue that night. My mind racing with thoughts of you. At your last visit we discussed starting a family with each other. Now the thought of it makes me sick to my stomach. I couldn’t accept the fact that you were gone.

My body is in a heap on the floor. Tears running down my face completely ruined my makeup. Someone walks in. It’s a coworker from a nearby office. She takes my hand and helps me to my feet. We walk slowly away from my cubicle. She asks what happened just as we pass by the group of people watching the homecoming videos. I speak just loudly enough for them to hear. My voice cracking at first. “I never got my military homecoming.”




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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

occasionalbeauty427 said...
yesterday at 10:15 pm:
Wow. Just, wow. I knew you were a good writer, but that made me tear up.  So powerful and leaves things unsaid at the same time telling you everything. Great job!!! I almost cried.
 
writtenonmysoulThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
today at 10:54 am :
Thank you so much! I worked really hard on this and I'm glad you liked it!
 
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