Home for Christmas
December 2010, I was in AIT to be an Ammunition Specialist in the U.S. Army. I was more or less volun-told to go home for Christmas, so I certainly did! I hadn't seen my family since before I went to basic (which was 10 wks itself, and I was over a month into AIT). However, sitting in my room, I felt a need to write. Being a soldier was everything to me, but I had my dogtags, yet there was a humbling sense within me that I felt as if I knew all too well on deeper meanings behind going home....even though I was still a new soldier. (If reincarnation was real, I'm sure I would have been a soldier in a previous lifetime. Is that crazy? It's cool, I'll own it!)
Though I always wrote poetry, I wanted to write a short story. And I did! My very first attempt at a "real" short story. I wanted to humble others, and I guess even during that time, I wanted to help with the awareness of mental health and our soldiers.
Home for Christmas
Drew kicked with a start from a dream he had. He could hear the cold winds blow outside his window, but the room where he slept remained dead silent. The silence itself bothered him more than he could stand, but the dreams that kept coming back made him feel helpless, almost to the point he would soon lose touch with reality.
Another December night, when he could be soundlessly sleeping like everyone else, Drew was sweating bullets and trying to calm the adrenaline that made him gasp for air. The dreams split his mind in two, or possibly even in three, because of the reality and horror that bled through the moving pictures in his head.
With the bed lamp on and his feet planted aside his bed, Drew recollected memories he wanted to forget. He embraced his dreams with eyes wide open this time, allowing reality to have the chance to catch him before he fell in too deep.
His chest hurt as he fought the tears, but the images came with a vengeance. He knew he'd never be freed from the noises and faces from the past, but his life ahead of him lied in the mercy of what remained hidden in his dreams. He remembered the smells as if it were yesterday. Another cold night in another time, another place, and just another day it was. An ambush flies in and out of no where, and screams of men, women, and children flood the air. Gun shots of every kind blended in. Drew tried to forget, to not think about the aftermath of the situation.
So much blood, a painted picture of another massacre of innocence. Drew and his team search the ruins and secure the area, then he finds a face he almost didn't recognize. Lying upon the cold mud laid a body covered in dirt and blood, and a uniform just like his. Master sergeant Louise, a best friend, an excellent soldier and leader; the one person Drew could count on for anything, even watch his back.
Louise was going to be promoted soon, he spoke of it all of the time. He was gong to celebrate and invite Drew along to bar-hop along throughout Europe's best of delights.
Drew couldn't stand the sight as the world went dark out in the cold air. Drew thought it all unfair; this couldn't be happening. His friend had much to look forward to, now it stopped all too abrupt.
Back to the present, in the warm room he sat next to his beloved wife, he got up and checked his daughter's room, watching her blond curls hug her face so gently.Then he checked his son's room across the hall, watching his sleeping face rest upon the pillow so still, so silent.
Drew walked into the living room, seeing Christmas lights and ornaments resting in the Christmas tree, so beautifully well done by his family, causing a relieving feeling to brush over him.
He was surprised to see his beautiful wife walk into the room and hug him tightly.
“You doing alright?”
Drew kissed her forehead, and replied,“Just have a lot on my mind.”
When his wife left him in peace, having a shot of whiskey sounded inevitable. It was Louise's outlet and the burn felt just right for the occasion.
Coming home was beyond relieving and glorious for Drew, to see his family again and another Christmas day to surprise them with all sorts of gifts.
Louise would want him to be happy, but the nightmares taunted him. The face of death upon his friend's face wasn't right. An honorable soldier died for him and a great country. Drew knew he'd soon leave his family again.
Louise will never be forgotten. Drew knew he couldn't let his family down, nor his country. He felt guilty for Louise's death, but the whiskey numbed it for the time being. He went back to bed, turned out the light, and dozed into a deep, dark sleep.