He tightened up his combat boots and buttoned up his fatigues. Today was the day he was shipping out, with any luck he would return home. He knew that it was not a good time to be leaving home, but he was called to duty. He took one last look around and decided it was time for him to leave. The taxi was at the curb waiting to take him to the base, so he grabbed his duffle bag, locked the door and walked out.
At the base, he checked in with the general and headed towards the awaiting plane. Upon entering, he went and sat with his platoon. The plane lifted off and he leaned back, closing his eyes and listening to the men and women around him. He could hear them talking about tactics and what might happen when they get there. He was already nervous, so he tuned them out.
The plane landed at 0500, the dawn was just starting to appear. He opened his eyes as the engines died down. He rose with the rest of the platoon, and they disembarked. They grabbed their gear from the undercarriage and walked to their stations.
Immediately the gun fire came down, and he dropped down into his bunker. He looked up a couple of times and shot towards the incoming fire. Exhaustion set in, so he leaned back against his bunker. He let his mind wander, remembering Christmases past. The first memory was when he was eight. He had run down the stairs eager to see the gifts that Santa had brought. Simpler times, when he thought there was no evil in the world.
That memory faded and was replaced by another. He was sixteen and more jaded than he had been in the past. He drug himself down the stairs, looking out the windows, searching for the first car he expected. Disappointment settled in his mind as he realized that car wasn’t there. For the rest of the day he was in a sour mood, giving hell to everyone who passed by.
Two years have gone by, he is eighteen and had just met the beautiful woman he would be wedded to in another four years. He loved this woman from the day that he lay eyes on her. This was their first Christmas, one that would never be forgotten. He remembered the kiss that they shared, it was their first, under the mistletoe during his parents annual Christmas party.
One year later, the proposal. It happened on Christmas day, and she cried while saying yes. They began planning the big day. He had enlisted for the first time and was being sent to boot camp. The wedding would be delayed for two more years, but he promised she was the only one who would ever have his heart.
Today would make year three. One more year and he would marry the most wonderful woman that has ever entered his life. He reaches for the things of her that brings him home. The scent of her perfume, the feel of her when he’s holding her, her smile, and her kiss. These are all things that bring him home even when he is thousands of miles away. He opens his eyes, he is being called to come back to the temporary base. He gets up, crouches down and walks to his captain.
The whole platoon has been told to retreat. It is time to enter the plane that brought them here. They will need to send more support, air support and ground support. The plane rises into the air, everyone looks worn and beaten down. He knows he will be seeing her soon. He has promised her that he will not re-enlist, and he intends to keep this promise. He can’t stand to be away from her, his one and only love.
After landing, he goes to the church she attends. He knows she will be there, praying for his safe return. He smiles as he walks, knowing this will be a surprise for her. It is so much sooner than either of them expected. When he walks into the church, he is shocked to see a flag draped coffin. His love is sitting up front crying, he runs to her and reaches out to wipe her tears. He tries to wipe the tears, but his finger passes through the tear. His own tears start flowing as he comes to the realization that the coffin is his. He made it home for sure, but not the way he thought. His tears continue to flow as he sits next to her. He wants her to know he is there with her. His tears are for the past and the future that will never be. He knows the wedding that was so close, is now just another ghost.
What inspired me: During the economic fall and the wars that we are experiencing, I wanted to view this from a soldiers point of view. very few people write about how a soldier would experience life. I was inspired by all of the service men who have lost their lives and therefore lost their futures. I also was inspired by the strength the family would have to experience finding out that their service men or women have died fighting for our country.