This month’s flash fiction is based on my favorite Sarah McLaughlin song in the world, “Full of Grace.” The video is below (Buffy, of course).
“In the middle of the night, I call your naaaaame.”
Ok, so I wouldn’t win any singing contests, but I highly doubted there were any critics in the shower. And I was getting ready to talk to my wife, so I have to admit I was pretty fucking stoked. The days (and nights) dragged on for eternity in this hellhole –the fucking armpit of the worldand just knowing that I’d see her smiling face was enough to put me in a singing mood.
“Oh, Taaan yaaa! Oh Ta“
“Jameson, stuff a sock in it, man! My goddamned ears are bleeding!”
Hmm. Maybe I was wrong about the critics part.
I turned the water off and grabbed for the too-itchy and entirely non-absorbent piece of cloth the Army insisted was actually a towel, “Kiss my ass Dopson. You just wish you had someone to sing about.”
“If it meant I wouldn’t have to inflict that kind of pain on other people, I’ll gladly stay single for the rest of my life.”
I laughed as I quickly threw on my uniform and pulled on my boots. If I wasn’t careful, I’d be late for my Skype date with Tanya, and that was just unacceptable. Time online was a precious commodity here, and I needed every second I could get.
I logged onto my Skype account with minutes to spare and checked my email while I waited for Tanya to come online. I watched a video she sent of our daughter telling me her colors and shapes, and I have to admit that I was glad Tanya was running late because if she caught me tearing up over the video she’d probably laugh at me…or start crying too.
This deployment had been pretty fucking hard on both of us, but I knew it was worse for her. She was stuck in our home taking care of our daughter with reminders of our life together everywhere. Over in the Sand Box when I was out in the field, I could at least attempt to separate my home life from my soldier life. Of course, it never totally worked… It was pretty fucking difficult to forget your heart beating in your chest.
I looked at the clock in the lower corner of my computer and saw that Tanya was ten minutes late, which never happened. She might’ve been absent-minded, but when it came to our Skype chats, she was usually ten minutes early.
I considered calling the house, but it was so late there that I would’ve woken Livvie up. So, I sat back and played the video again and toyed with the idea of bringing up a game of solitaire to pass the time until she got online. Knowing Tanya, she probably burned dinner and was trying to clean up the mess before hopping on the computer. I hated to admit it, but my wife was the worst cook in the world.
The sound of someone clearing their throat snapped me from the thoughts of home and I looked up to see my unit commander. I jumped out of my seat, wondering why the fuck no one had called the room to attention.
“At ease, Jameson,” he said, easing down onto the chair next to me, “Have a seat, son.”
I felt my stomach lurch as I sat back down, “Yes sir?” I glanced at the screen, hoping Tanya wouldn’t pop up and see my CO sitting with me. She might think I was getting in trouble, and I hated worrying her.
“Sgt. Jameson.” His voice was strained, his eyes staring over my shoulder in a classic military thousand yard stare, refusing to meet mine. “I am so sorry to inform you, but we received a Red Cross message earlier…your wife was killed in a car accident this afternoon.”
I felt the blood drain out of my face and my heart stop beating. Surely I’d heard him wrong, “Excuse me sir?”
“Tanya was involved in a head on collision this afternoon. The doctors said she passed instantly. She didn’t feel any pain, son.”
My vision blurred and all I could hear was white noise. I saw my CO reaching out to touch my arm, but I felt nothing when he made contact. It felt as though I was suddenly swimming underwater and the whole world had slowed down just for that moment.
I closed my eyes for a minute, trying to clear my vision. My CO was still blurred around the edges. I shook my head, trying to hear what he was saying. He was still talking nonsense.
“…home… funeral… leave…”
Not real. This isn’t real. Why isn’t Tanya online? She’s never late for our Skype dates. Maybe Livvie’s sick or something. She probably just woke up and is demanding a cookie and a drink. Not real, not real, not real.
I could feel my chest getting tighter with each second that passed. I moved to stand, but when I heard him tell me how sorry he was for my loss, I hit the ground and couldn’t get back up.
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