Warning: This story contains strong language.
Charlie hid in the shadow of the blossoming dogwood, wishing she’d worn something heavier. When they’d been teenagers, Tom was always late. Why would that change? Only now, with clouds drifting across the sun, did it occur to her that maybe he wasn’t coming. After ten years, maybe he’d forgotten.
The couple sitting on the bench near the pagoda lantern left and Charlie moved there, crouching into herself to stay warm. She watched as a Hispanic-looking man in a Marine uniform approached. His gaze took in the area and then fell on Charlie. She straightened.
“Are you Charlie?” he asked.
She squinted up at him, nodding. He removed an envelope, which he handed her. “This is from Tom.”
His face was impassive. She took the envelope, her hand trembling as she ripped it open.
Helmand Province, Afghanistan 2015.
Charlie! If Rodriguez gave this to you, then my news is shitty. Three things my former bald leukemic girlfriend: I beat cancer. I never forgot you, never stopped loving you—ever. I joined the Marines and probably died in this shithole. I hope you never see this. The irony of it would be too fucking much. Excuse my French.
Love, much longer than always, Tom
end 9/18/2016 (2)