This post is a two-parter because first today is a solemn day not just set aside for barbecues and picnics. So I wanted to do a little tribute on this Memorial Day to all of those who have given their lives in service.
And below, a new installment of my Lucy Kilgore story, which has a theme somewhat pertinent today. Many thanks. Sascha Darlington
Brothers in Arms
My Lucy is crying. The tears are streaming down her cheeks quicker than her fingers can slash them away. She looks everywhere but at me. Every time I try to take her into my arms, she pushes me away.
“You made the decision without even talking to me,” she says, her voice so soft and hurting that it makes my heart break.
“You’re the only one who could talk me out of it,” I say, which is true and probably hurts her even more.
Her arms hug her body instead of me. I reach out to touch her but she steps back out of my reach. She’s so frustrating. I just want her to understand that I had to do it. This is for Mike, my best friend who died over there. I may not know for what anymore. I have to think that we’re there so that events like 9/11 don’t happen again. I have to believe that we’re protecting the people we love and our way of life, but I’m also smart enough to know that bullshit politicians have their own agendas.
“I don’t think I can do this,” she says. “We’re over.”
I try to take her hand but she steps back again. I just want her to look at me. “Lucy, please, not like this.”
“If anything happened to you, I’d die,” she says and then rolls her eyes and shakes her head. “I know what you’re thinking, but you’ve made this decision all on your own. I think that was selfish. It’s like you don’t care about me.”
“I love you.”
“Then why did you enlist?”
“Mike’s dead. You can’t do him any good.”
“But I can go over and help. I’m a medic. I can save lives.”
She looks at me now. I receive the full brunt of those brandy brown eyes, their hurt broadcasting outward. They shimmer with tears and the edges are red-ringed, and I am responsible.
“Please don’t break up with me. I need you.”
“I can’t do it, Cal. I don’t want to hear any more of your rationalizations. I should have mattered enough to you for you to talk to me. You didn’t.”
She walks away. I never got to touch her, hug her, kiss her and that’s all I wanted to do before I left. I just wanted to smell that sultry perfume she wears that’s so unlike her and just like her at the same time.
It’s the last day before I ship out. I think “my relationship,” which sounds cold and sterile; no, it’s more like my future life has detonated. My future life of Lucy and me and a kid or two and a big yard with a stream. For the past couple of years that’s all I envisioned as I studied to be an EMT.
I’ll go to my parents’ house and Mom will make pot roast that’s so tender it falls into pieces and buttery mashed potatoes and gravy and see that I eat too much. And I’ll look out the window toward the house where Lucy grew up. Where I played basketball in the driveway with her older brother, Richie, while she and Charlie, my little brother, rode bikes, the little bells on their handlebars constantly chiming tinny rings.
And in a couple of days I’ll be in Afghanistan. Who knows where, trying to keep me and other soldiers alive.