..................... I sat next to her she had huge dark rings under her eyes.
“I hate my life” she sobbed “I hate the person I am, someone is punishing me for doing the things I’ve done”.
“What happened” I said pulling my hands up my sleeves and wiping at the icy tears on her cheeks.
“ I’d just been and mailed a letter to Troy” she sniffed “I pulled into the drive at the same time as that black car pulled up” I felt like I wanted to be sick on the spot. “Troy was one of the guys that was killed by that bomb the other day”
“Oh Skye I’m so sorry” I said feeling my own tears stream down my face, we’d all grown up with the fear of what we’d grown to know as a visit and we’d had friends that had lost Dad’s and even Mom’s to the Corps but somehow you never think it’ll be you or your family getting the visit.
“He’s gone Tess he’s not coming home” She shrugged “he’s not going to get to met his son” she rested her hand on her stomach as we both cried I wrapped my arms round her everything that had happened in the past seemed so insignificant.
“Come on I’m going to take you back to mine” I said pulling her up and walked her to the truck she was like a zombie walking I helped her in and closed the door all the joy from Bens call this morning had vanished this is what they did this is the worst part to being part of a military Brat. I took a deep breath and walked round to the driver’s seat and got in wiping my eyes. We pulled in to the drive way I looked at Skye “You need to try to get some sleep” I said squeezing her hand.
‘Every time I close my eyes all I can see it Troy’s face” she wearily sighed “Oh Tess it hurts so much”.
“I know, at least try and lie down for a while here take a hot bath if you want” she gave me a slight nodded we walked in the house Ollie and Nick were sitting on the couch with Nicks girlfriend Allie, I followed Skye up the stairs and went into Nicks room and grabbed a pair of sweats and a hoodie I handed them to Skye. She went into the bathroom and got changed and came across to my room.
“Thank you for coming” she said sitting on the bed and picking up the picture of me and Ben at Adams wedding “You two make the sweetest couple Tess, I’m happy for you guys”.
“Thank you” I nodded “when are they flying his body home”.
“Monday” she whispered with her eyes closed “His parents are coming from Tennessee when he gets home to help with the funeral……. ohI have to go through that yet” she broke down. I put my arms round her .
“I’ll be with you if you want me to” I sighed she looked at me.
“After everything I’ve done and what you said” she sniffed as I handed her a Kleenex.
“I guess this makes all of that seem like dumb stuff” I shrugged “I’d never wish anything like this even on Lilly”.
“My head hurts so much” she said leaning against the pillows “I want the pain to go away”.
“None of us can take it away we can just be there when you need us” I put my hand on her stomach “I could have been mewho got the visit as easily as it was you, I’ll go get you a drink” she nodded and closed her eyes as I walked out of the room turning off the light as I went I got down into the kitchen I opened the fridge door and felt tears slide down my face.
“Honey” I looked round at Mom and shook my head. “What was it”.
“The guy she was with was one of the Marines taken out by that roadside bomb” Mom sat down as Ollie walked in.
“Is this the guy who got her pregnant” he asked I nodded.
“It’s not fair I know she’s fucked up but this shouldn’t have happened” I saidrunning my hands through my hair.
“It makes you worry twice as much as you did before” Mom sighed “I was pregnant with you and there was an attack on the camp where the guys were” she said taking a deep breath “it took days to hear anything they lost 18 guys that day your Dad doesn’t know this but I went to see when they came home and it’s a sight I never ever wanted to see again” the tears welled up in her eyes “Dannie doesn’t even know, I watched them bring off 27 coffins from the flight that day each draped with the Flag, it haunted me ever single night while your Dad was gone and still does but it’s the reality of our life”.
“I told her I’d be with her at the funeral if she needs me to be” I sighed.
“We can all be there for her” Nick shrugged. I got up to take Skye’s drink up to her I walked up the stairs and opened my bedroom door Skye was sound asleep I put the drink down and grabbed a pad and notebook from my dresser draw and went back down stairs. Mom was dressed for work.
“I didn’t realize you were on nights” I said looking at her.
“Yeah I have the next week of them” she nodded “You need to call Skye’s Dad just so he knows shes here”
“I will” I said sitting on the couch “where’d the boys go”
‘Nick went to take Allie home and Ollie took Marine out” Mom hugged me “You okay”.
‘Yeah my Marine’s still okay” I sighed.
“Love you Tess please call me if you need me okay” I nodded as she grabbed her keys and walked out of the door I picked up the pen and began to write to Ben.
I was so happy this morning when I got to hear your voice and it made me really want to go out and start making wedding plans, till I got a call from Skye.
I know this is not what you want or need to hear but, everything that has happened between me and Skye is done and over withshe’s in a bad way at the moment she got the visit.
Her Marine is coming home but in the way I never ever want to have to deal with, he was one of the guys killed last week, she’s in my bed at the moment sleeping as well as she can another Marine kid that won’t get to ever met his Daddy he’ll never get the life we had growing up all he’ll have will be that flag folded into a box. Ben I love you so much and I’m now more scared than I’ve ever been in my life seeing a Skye left with nothing.
Life’s too short to ever be taken for granted I know more than ever I want you married to me. I know this is going to sound dumb but having something as simple as your last name as my own would make me feel so much closer to you, nothing can guarantee you’ll be safe but having some of the best Marines round you teaching you to be the best you can be gives me some comfort.
I know I can make it through the next however long you’re gone for and make up for every lost minute when I see you., We’re in this together for the long haul, I needed to let you know what was going on and tell you that you are my best friend and soon to be my husband and I love you and am proud to call you my Marine.
Keep safe Baby please.
I folded the letter not noticing the tear stains on it I put it in the envelope along with some pictures and sealed it as Ollie and Nick walked through the door at the same time.
“How’s Skye doing” Ollie asked as Nick looked towards the stairs.
“She’s sleeping” I sniffed wiping my eyes.
“We sat watching the news footage the other day hoping it wasn’t going to be any one we knew” Nick said sitting on the arm of the couch next to me I leaned against his arm.
“It’s not as if we knew him but wer need to be here to help Skye try to pick up the pieces of her life” I looked at Nick “I know what she did to you was wrong but this blows that out of the water”.
“I know” he nodded…………
…………….. The next few days were the longest days I’d ever known in my life I went with Skye to collect Troy’s Parents from the airportIt was the first time Skye had met them Troy’s Mom hugged Skye as soon as she saw her both of them in tears.
“Did he get home okay” she asked. Skye managed to nodded.
“Yeah he’s where he belongs” Skye sniffed, We’d seen first hand what Mom had described with the transport bringing home 11 caskets containing someone’s son’s husbands and fathers, covered with the Star and stripes sending chills through us as we’d watched it was a haunting sight that tore my heart in to pieces.
“We’ll take you to the base” I said quietly “The pastor is waiting to see youSkye made the arangemnts this morning”
“You must be Tess” Troy’s Dad sighed I nodded “Thank you for being a friend”.
“Marine brat born and raised Sir this is what we have to grow up with” I said as we walked out Skye and Troy’s Mom behind us.
“Troy joined the Marines right out of high school” he said “I was so proud the day I went in to his high school with him and saw his picture put up on the wall there” He smiled remembering back before looking at me “He was one of only 3 Marines at the time on the wall”.
“It’s something to be very proud of” I nodded.
“He had talked about it for years and it wasn’t till an Ex student came back to give them a talk that he decided that was going to be the life for him”. he said as they picked up their bags “It was the girl of the Marine that said something to the principal about a wall of honor I wished I could have met them and thanked them personally”. I looked at him,
“I know this isn’t really the time or place to ask this but wouldn’t happen to be from Brentwood would you and your son wasn’t the Q.B. at Brentwood high”.
“A long time ago he was” Troy’s Mom sighed “Tennessee is a good sized state how would you know where we’re from”.
“My Dad was the Marine that talked to your son, and my Mom is the one that told the principal about what they had done at her high school” I shrugged “It’s a story I’ve heard from being little, Dad brags about a girl from Minnesota making a difference in a Tennessee school” Troys parents both looked at me.
“Shows how much of a small world it really is” Troy’s Dad said his eye swimming with Tears “Do you think your Dad would be able to come to the funeral I know Troy regretted losing touch with him” I opened the door of my truck.
“Dad is on an extended deployment over there at the moment and they’ve only been gone a month I’m sorry”I shrugged.
“Could we meet your Mom” Troy’s Mom asked she was still holding Skye’s hand.
“Sure, I’ll take you to the pastor first” Skye looked at me through the mirror and nodded. I dropped them off telling Skye to call me when she they were done. I drove home Mom was getting back from walking the dog.
“How did things go with his parents” she asked as we walked in the house.
“Better than I think Skye expected” I sighed throwing my keys in the dish. “But I have something to tell you”. She sat on the couch and looked at me.
“That doesn’t sound good”.
“You know when Dad took you to his high school” she nodded “And there was that Q.B. and his girlfriend who were fighting over him becoming a Marine”.
“His parents want to meet you”.
“How would you know his…” her voice trailed off and she closed here eyes “Skyes bioyfirend was called Troy wasn’t he” it was my turn to nodded “Oh godare you sure it’s the same guy”.
“His Dad was telling me about how proud he was of him and wished he could met the guy who talked him into becoming a Marine”.
“That could be any recruiter honey”.
“In Brentwood, with a girl from Minnesota who got a wall of honor started” mom let out a huge sigh.
“Wow that was a long time ago before I married your Dad” she said looking at me. “I’ll come withyou when Skye calls”……………………………….