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Thinking of You
Your photograph catches my eye as I brush my hair until it becomes silky. I'm sitting at my vanity, on whose mirror I stubbed a black and white photo of you. A permanent set of lipstick prints are next to it, from each time I kiss it.
You're wearing your military uniform. Your posture is rigid, and you're tucking your cap beneath your arm formally, but your smile breaks free from the restraints of this picture. You're grinning at whoever is behind the camera (probably me). Your eyes shine with so much happiness that they might as well be printed in color.
I see beneath the grayscale print to the colors of you and your heart. I close my eyes and pretend I'm still with you.
'Nicole,' you call, from the other room. I look up and find you poking your head in the doorway. Your classic grin is set on your face. 'Are you finally ready?' you ask, but I know you would wait to the ends of the world for me. That's just who you are.
'Yes,' I sigh into a smile, your cue to come in. You stand behind me, and wrap your strong protective arms around me. I look at our reflection in the mirror. You smile at me, and gauge my reaction as you lean in to kiss me on the neck.
My heart soars, and I turn to meet your lips in a light, frivolous kiss. It's sweet, just like your personality.
You break apart from the kiss after much resistance on my part. 'Nicole,' you say, 'There's some bad news I have to tell you.' At first I think you're kidding, but the austere look on your face tells me you're serious.
'What's wrong, Michael?' I ask. Clearly something is worrying you.
You sigh, and cast your eyes down. You're fidgeting with your fingers, one of your nervous habits. Then, you look up at me with your liquid emerald eyes. 'Nicole,' you start, 'I've been drafted.' You stop and wait for me to say something.
'Drafted?' I repeat dumbly. 'As in, drafted into the army? They want you to go to war? I thought you said they would only call on you if things got bad, but the war is just beginning!' I cry. Tears begin pooling in my eyes, but they are unable to fall.
'I'm being stationed in Hawaii first, for training, and once they need me I'm being shipped off to Japan,' you say.
'J-Japan?' I stammer. 'B-but that's so far away!'
You nod morosely. 'But would you rather the fighting be at home? On our own land?'
I shake my head, freeing the tears. They stream down my face, drawing out my recently applied mascara. 'When?'
'When what?' you ask. I look at your shaggy brown hair, and imagine you with a shaved head. You're not supposed to look like that, I insist to the image in my head.
'When do you have to leave?' I ask. I lean in to you and take your dark brown hair in my fingers, and relish it before its nothing more than a memory.
'Tomorrow.' you whisper, and my whole word shatters.
'Tomorrow?' I squeak, my mind reeling for answers.
'They told me today. I leave first thing tomorrow morning,' you say, sending my entire universe into a panic. I sob, and you console me with a loving hug. You plant kisses in my hair, but even they don't make me feel any better. 'Shh, Nicole, everything will be fine. Depending on how my training goes, I'll be back in twelve months. Okay? Can you wait for me?'
I nod my head. 'Of course.' I'll wait to the end of the world for you. I love you.
You smile, and kiss me. 'Good. It won't be so long.'
'I love you, Michael,' I say, picturing our life together once you return from war.
The sweet daydream ends when my mother knocks on my bedroom door. 'Andrew is here,' she announces.
'Oh,' I say, 'I'll be down in a second.' When she leaves I kiss your picture. I miss you. I wonder what it was like to be you, to die at nineteen, leaving those who loved you most behind in this cruel world. I sometimes forget that you were killed by the Japanese. The man who spread the message of your death told me that you were kept as a prisoner of war before being tested on with a new weapon, which fatally killed you. You went through so much.
And here I sit betraying you. I apply the red lipsticks to my lips and kiss the spot next to your photograph. I get up to walk downstairs with this Andrew. He's no you.
He takes me on a picnic. He's handsome, yes, but I don't connect with him. I'm thinking of you.
He tries to kiss me, and I let him. My mind is elsewhere, thinking of you. I imagine it's you I'm kissing. I wrap my arms around your neck and pull you closer to me. I need you forever. 'I love you, Michael,' I say, and then Andrew pulls away, and I forget it's not really you. I'm disgusted with myself.
He knows that something is wrong, but he pretends else wise and we continue the date as if your name wasn't mentioned. How can I forget? You're all that is on my mind.
The lame date ends on a flat note, not that I mind. Andrew walks me up to my front door, and just as I'm about to open the door, he spins me around.
'Nicole,' he says, his gray eyes trying to reach me.
'Yes?' I murmur softly.
'I know' I know what happened with' with Michael,' he says, unsure if it's hurting me. Your face is in my mind. Your expression is analyzing what he is trying to tell. So far you are as confused as I am. I nod. 'And, well, I just wanted to say, I don't care.' I narrow my eyes, and he jumps back on top of his words. 'Wait, no, that came out wrong. What I meant to say is that I know that you still have feelings for him, and I'm' I'm here for you'.as a friend'or even, you know, as more than a friend'Whatever you need me to be.'
You and I both are smiling, which surprises me. I don't know if I am more shocked at your reaction or mine. I hug Andrew gently. 'You don't know how much that means to me,' I tell him. 'Right now I really need a friend.'
He smiles, and I can tell he is a little disappointed, but he stays true to his word. 'Well, then, goodnight, Nicole,' he smiles, and kisses me lightly on the cheek, as a close friend would.
'Goodnight Andrew,' I giggle. When he's out of ear shot, I murmur, 'Goodnight Michael. I love you.'