Cover Design: Letitia Hasser, RBA Designs
Photo: David Wagner
Model: David John Craig
Remember when I said we couldn’t speak after parting ways in Germany? It was the day I broke your heart. What you didn’t know was that I was breaking mine too.
I thought they’d be enough–my husband and my son. That I’d get home and everything would go back to the way it was . . .
Before the war.
Before the ambush.
But, no matter how hard I try, I can’t erase the trauma we shared. I can’t seem to forget the way my heart beat in time with yours.
The truth is I’m lost without you.
I thought the nightmare was over when they pulled us from that hole in the ground, but nothing could have prepared me for the war I’d face at home.
I know it’s selfish of me to ask, but, please, I have to see you one last time. . .
All my love,
She is dead serious.
Lifting her chin, as if ready to take a blow, her turbulent eyes implore mine. “Tell me about them. Tell me about all of the women you’ve been with since Germany.”
“No.” I shake my head. “Hell no.”
“Oh, please, Briggs. How long did you wait? A few days?” She laughs sarcastically. “I bet you didn’t even make it a day.”
She’s coming out guns blazing, and I can see it’s physically killing her to do it.
“Are we playing the guessing game? Do I get to ask how many times you’ve fucked your husband?”
“Sure,” she says with a shrug. “We’ll trade. You go first.”
She’s bluffing, and I’m calling her on it.
“Don’t do this, Scottie. You don’t really want to hear about that.”
“Humor me, Briggs.” Her eyes plead with mine. “I need to hear this.”
“Fine. You want the truth?”
Again, she bobs her head.
She stands stock-still as I pace the small room, feeling the blood begin to boil beneath my overheated skin.
I stalk back toward her, stopping inches away. “You really want to know that there have been so many that I’ve lost count? How they’re all blondes with blue eyes? But the blue, it’s never right, and their smiles—all wrong.”
She swats at the fresh tears that trail down her cheeks as her lips begin to tremble. Reaching out, she places a hand on my chest, and I know that she must feel the way my heart is pounding against my rib cage, reaching for her. Always reaching for her.
I jerk myself away and brand that touch to memory.
In about forty-five seconds, my heart is going to implode. I start ticking them down.
“You want me to tell you all about how I have to drink myself stupid, till their faces blur enough that I can pretend…” I pause running a hand down my face. “So that I can pretend they’re you? You want to know how fucking miserable I am? How when I slide between their legs, I close my eyes, and it’s your face I see? How I’m always careful not to kiss them because their lips are all wrong. How every time I finish I want to fucking kill myself, because I can’t stand the pain of wanting the one woman I can never have.”
“Is that enough?” Her eyes snap to mine. “Hate me yet?”
Face crumbling, she gasps out a sob, wrapping her arms around her shoulders.
“Come on, Scottie. Let’s not kid ourselves. I’m still the same prick you hated when we met. Nothing’s changed. I think we’ve romanticized this situation long enough, don’t you?”
Taking another step away from her, I tilt my head. “You’re a housewife,” I say snidely. “Someone else’s wife and I’m a career soldier. This isn’t exactly ideal.”
She flinches visibly, and my heart bottoms out.
I cut my hand through the air. “At the end of the day, this was nothing but a big mistake. And we never would have happened if—”
“Stop,” she cries out painfully, “stop, I’m good,” she whispers before rocketing toward the door just as I reach for her, my fingers curling in the space she just left. Handle in hand, she looks back at me with the sweep of her eyes until they meet mine. That’s how we started, and it’s only fitting it’s how we should end. For the moment, we’re right back there in the place we created, where we are perfect. Where our souls line up without any visible smudge on the seams. In a place where there is still so much love, so much that I can’t stop the tear that slides out before batting it away with the back of my hand.
An identical tear runs down her cheek. “Thank you.”
Three. Two. One.
Kate is a lover of all things ’80s and ’90s, especially John Hughes films and rap. She dabbles a little in photography, can knit a simple stitch scarf for necessity, and on occasion, does very well at whiskey.