Not Another SoldierBy: Samantha Holt
To my husband and ex-soldier, John. You are the best kind of man. You’ve always worked hard for your family and put us first. Even when the army dictated your every move. You inspire me to work hard for us.
To all the wonderful friends I made during my time as a military wife. Some of you I’m in touch with, some of you I’m not, but I will always remember our friendships, even when they were fleeting. I suspect they will stay with me forever.
Finally, I have to say thank you to all the service men and women, past and present. You and your families are an inspiration. You work so hard, in unthinkable conditions, and still never get enough thanks. Your families tolerate so much, all with a smile on their face, and they never get enough thanks either. And in spite of it all, you show such pride in your job. Every person, rich and poor, young and old, should look up to you.
The little skip, skip of my heart is slightly sickening. How can I go from scared to… to so needy in less than ten seconds? The sight of Nick on my bed seems to short circuit my brain. I’m pretty sure I can feel explosions going on behind my eyes. Memories of being pressed against him, of him inside me, combust in my mind.
One arm comes around my waist and draws me close in understanding. I wish he couldn’t read me so well sometimes. The fear of earlier has been replaced with something much more urgent and frightening. His thumb rubs roughly across my cheek as he coaxes my face up and away from his chest. His eyes are sincere and guilt jabs me for even imagining he might hurt me. My chest tightens as his callused thumb continues to smooth across my face. I want it. I can’t help it. I need him to kiss me. My lips tingle in anticipation and I hold my breath.
I don’t know if it’s adrenaline that numbs my common sense when it comes to Nick or what, but the pain in my neck has all but gone. The hammering of my heart is replaced with a steady throb of desire. His gaze drops to my lips and I wait for him to close the distance between us but I suspect he’s waiting for my permission.
I tighten my grip on the back of his neck, almost fearful he might pull away, and I bring my lips to his. We hover there, exchange breaths and heat for a moment, and when we finally connect it’s slow and acute. I’m aware of every tiny touch of his lips on mine. Before I can deepen it, he pulls back and drops his hand to my wine-soaked top. His smile tilts.
“We need to get you out of that top.”
I watch as they lower his coffin into the ground. Funny, I never imagined it this way. I think as soon as you marry a soldier you imagine what it will be like. How you will cope with the news. When they go on tour, you picture the uniformed man standing at your door or walking down your driveway to deliver the news. You see yourself crumbling.
But that never happened. Rob didn’t die in the line of duty. Drunk driving. I couldn’t believe it. You kiss them goodbye as they go off to war and picture the worst while trying to hold onto your strength. Well most women do. I don’t know how I felt. Actually, no, I was worried for him. I hated the uncertainty it brought. But I do wonder if he was worth my worry sometimes.
What you don’t expect though, are the cops on your doorstep, telling you your husband died because he was DUI. Thank God he didn’t hurt anyone else.
So here I am, at twenty-eight, burying my husband after he flipped his car. I don’t cry. I can’t. I’m kind of numb. I wait to see if I feel something, try to summon some kind of emotion but it’s not there. I wonder if Rob took my emotions with him. Will I ever be able to feel again?
The honor guard finish up and I nod in acknowledgement as distant family members and friends mutter sympathetic words and offer their help. I reply with some vague response. I’m not sure I want their help. Most of them didn’t care to visit when we moved, following Rob’s career in the Marines. And most of the ‘friends’ attending are Rob’s.
Jess, my neighbor, offers me a sympathetic smile. I envy her. Always have really. I only moved here when Rob was promoted to Sergeant and I resented it. Fort Worth, Virginia, is way out on the fringes of the city and it’s a ghost town. I rarely saw anyone and I didn’t make any friends. I’d meet a few nice women at the various corps events, the balls etcetera, but they never stayed in touch. I have some great work colleagues but we’re all so busy, we only see each other at Christmas events and stuff like that.