Zander was able to get me a flight to Texas for the weekend. I was packing my bag when Finn sighed putting down my Rubik's cube. “What?” I asked him looking up from my bag.
“I just don’t see why you have to do this alone.” I sat next to him as he gave me that ‘I’m upset’ look.
“It’s just something I have to do by myself.” He put his head on my shoulder grunting.
“I can give you space. I don’t like you going off to another state, flying across another country, without me.” He clutched me tighter to him.
“I’ll only be 8 hours away.” He pouted to me making me kiss his out stretched lip.
“By plane.” He snuggled his face into my shoulder. I stroked his head.
“I need to do this Finn and I need to do it by alone. It’s just something I have to do.” He pulled back to look at me.
“I know that, Ana. I just want to protect you, from everything.” I stroked his cheek giving him a sad smile.
“I’m sorry. It would be better if you stayed here. It’ll only be for a couple days.”
“Pinky promise?” He held up his big hand putting his pinky out.
“Pinky promise.” I locked my pinky with his as he pulled my hand to his mouth and kissed it.
“I don’t want you to go.” He sighed rubbing my hand, obviously not done with this conversation like I thought we were.
“Finnley.” I sighed looking at him sadly. “Please don’t do this.” He took a deep breath pulling me to him.
“I can’t help it. I want you all to myself. I don’t want to share you with anyone. Especially with someone who used to sleep with you.” I grunted at him.
“Dammit Finn. Why do you have to bring that shit up?” I said sitting up.
“Because I’m pissed at what he did to you. He took away your innocence, Ana.” I put my face into my hands.
“I wasn’t innocent, Finn. I was already tainted when I met him. He had nothing to do with me losing my innocence.” I could feel his breathing stop.
“Ana…” I looked over to him. His face had gone white.
“I don’t want to talk about this. I’m going to be late for my flight.” I pulled my hand out of his now weak grasp and got off the bed. I picked up my bag and shoved the rest of my picked out cloths into the bag and left him lying there, still on the bed, completely frozen. I put my bag down on the counter and rubbed my face roughly trying to think clearly.
“Hey, Kid.” I looked up as Danny walked into the kitchen grabbing an apple out of the fruit bowl.
“Hey, are you ready to go?” I asked him trying to clear my head. He cocked his head to the side.
“Your flight is not until later tonight. It’s still early.” He said biting his apple.
“I want to get there early so I’m prepared to go right away.” He gave me a suspicious look.
“Don’t you want to say bye to Finn? His family?” I shook my head.
“I already did. Can we please go?” He nodded.
“Let me just grab my keys. Go put your stuff into the car.” I grabbed my bag and walked into the living room kissing Matty’s head.
“I’ll see you soon, Bub. Have fun with Nana and Grandpa at the Hotel.” Danny decided that it would be best if everyone was away when he told my mother about the divorce. He’s having my Grandparents take Matty to the Disney Resort here in Aulani, Hawaii. A good hour away from us. You never know what could happen with my mother.
“I’ll miss you, Sissy. Can’t you come with us?” He looked up at me from watching his morning TV shows.
“No Bubba, but I’ll be back soon. I promise.” He pouted at me giving me a big hug.
“I love you, Annie.” He sighed. I rubbed the back of his head soothingly.
“I love you, Matty. Be good.” I picked back up my bag as Matty watched me leave the house. I put the bag into the back as Danny stared at me, beating me out.
“You know you could go with him. My folks won’t mind.” I smiled weakly at him.
“This is something I have to do.” He closed the trunk and patted my back.
“Let’s get going.” He said getting into the front. I copied him pulling on my seatbelt. We drove in silence for a good ten minutes before Danny looked at me. “So what happened?” I cleared my thoughts and looked at him.
“What?” He laughed at me.
“I may not be your real father. I may not have known you that long, but I can tell when something’s troubling you. So back to my question, what happened?” I sighed. He knows me too well.
“Finn just found out something he didn’t want to know.” I looked out of the window.
“That happens in relationships. It keeps them interesting though. No one can be perfect, and no relationship can be perfect. It’s the way of life. But there has to be trust and faith as well.” I looked back over to him. “There is a difference between Normal relationships and Military relationships. Military ones, they weigh a lot more on trust and faith. We go away for months on end, sometimes not even getting to talk to the ones we love. They are the hardest, most painful relationships there are. But they are the most rewarding. They make you love ten times hard, they make you believe that there is love everywhere; they make you trust unconditionally in the one you love.
“Your mother wasn’t able to handle that kind of love. A lot of people can’t. The trust just isn’t there. The commitment is just too much. The act of waiting maybe, 18 months for that one you love to come home, it’s really hard. But the reward when you do see them, when you hold them again. It makes it worth all of it. All of pain, the sleepless night, the tears. Those months when a soldier is home, all they want to do is be with the ones they love. To hold them till the sun comes up. To spend every waking moment just staring at them, remember how it is to hold them so when the time comes to leave again, they’ll always remember the feeling.” He took a deep shuttering breath. I felt the tears rolling down my cheeks without my permission. “I had that love once. It’s something that is so hard to describe. I loved her so much.” I could see and hear him fighting the emotions.
“Matty’s mom.” I whispered. He nodded.
“You would have loved her too. She was amazing. I met her at Boot Camp. She made me fall in love with her. She made me the man I am. She gave me everything she had. Her love, her heart, her mind, and eventually her son.” I watched the tears as they escaped his walls. “She loved him so much. He was everything to her. He is perfect. She decided that it would be her last tour; she wouldn’t be a marine anymore, just a marine wife. It was only a few weeks before the tour was up when things went wrong. She was on patrol with some of the guys in her platoon.” He gripped the steering wheel tighter. “They hit an IED, she saved those men. But she lost her life in the process. She was a hero, but Matty would never remember her. She died when he was only 5 months old. She left when he was only a couple weeks old.” I stared at him as my chest tightened painfully. I never knew anything about Matty’s Mom, but this was not what I expected.
“I wish you could have met her.” He laughed to himself. “You remind me of her, when I first met her. You have her spirit, Ana.”
“Dad.” He looked over at me and smiled.
“I love you, Ana. I do. You’re my little girl now. Like I had one with Jessie. I can’t lose you, Kid.” He pulled up to the airport. “Promise you’ll come back. That isn’t goodbye.” My hands were shaking in my lap.
“I promise. I can’t leave anymore.” He smiled at me pulled my head to his.
“I love you, Kid. I’m sorry what you had to go through. But I’ll protect you now. I’ll protect you.” He kissed my head. “Have a good trip.” I wrapped my arms around him.
“I love you too, Dad.” He smiled letting me go. “Is that why Grandpa and Grandma let Finn stay?” I opened the door looking at him.
“You never know how much time you’ll have, until you’re at the end. Don’t give up on love. Don’t waste it, it could be gone tomorrow.” I closed the door getting my bag out of the trunk. “Have a good trip. I’ll see you soon. Call me when you get there, I want to make sure your safe.” I nodded.
“Bye, Danny, Dad.” He smiled.
“Bye, Kid.” I watched as he drove off. I’ve never had this problem, leaving someone who cared about me. I never left Ryder alone for more than an hour at a time. But leaving Matty and Danny was like losing my arms. I need them; I could live without them after the pain went away. But I don’t want to lose them. I care for them too much. They’re my family now. I turned around and faced the airport. It’s time to amend my past. I need to fix it so I have no regrets. You never know when it will be your last day. I have to start living in the moment.
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