I sit in at the kitchen table, coffee cup in hand, but I make no move to drink.
I just stare, stare out the window. Not at anything in particular.
Just watching the cars, the birds, the people walking by.
All going on with their lives, whereas mine seems to be at a standstill.
I sigh and shut my eyes, thinking back to a happier time.
When I had him.
I sit alone on the swing, gently rocking back and forth. The tears sting my cheeks as the run down my face and I sob weakly. Just a little girl. All alone.
Suddenly I hear a noise from somewhere behind me.
I turn to see a smiling blonde boy, about my age, approaching. I bite my lip. Great.
Another Bully to make my life miserable.
As he gets closer, his blue eyes flash with concern.
“A-are you…alright?” I flinch at the sound of his words. “Y-yeah. I’m fine.”
Then, nervously, I look up to meet his gaze. “Are you here…to make fun of me too…?”
His eyes widen. “What!? No! I would never do that.” Kneeling down so that he was eye-level with me, he wiped away my tears.
“Don’t worry, okay? I can be your hero!”
Jumping up, he dramatically makes a heroic pose, and I giggle.
He says his name is Alfred and after introducing myself, he takes my hand and we go off to get ice cream.
I hadn’t realized that the tears had begun to fall until several splash on the newspaper that lay open upon the table, waiting in earnest for me to finally put it to use.
That time would not come anytime soon.
It was currently useless. It had no information that I needed. Nothing I wanted.
The only thing I could want would be for the telephone to ring and to hear his voice on the other end.
His familiar laugh.
I smile a little, thinking about his wide grin, his perfect white teeth.
Then I frown, thinking of the last time I cried, because of him.
A number of years later, Alfred and I sit in that same park on a bench together, just as we’d done many times before. But now, things were different.
“[Name]. I hope you understand why I have to go, why I have to do this.”
I nod and smile, despite the tears. “Of course I do. You have a responsibility to this country, just as I do.”
I look down sadly, not wanting to meet his gaze. But even so, I don’t want you to leave me…What if you don’t come back? Ever?... I bite my lip. No! I can’t think about that. I’ll just end up making myself sick.
Kneeling in from of me, Alfred lifts up my chin and wipes away my tears, just as he’s done time after time.
“I promise you, that I will come back. No matter what. Okay?”
I nod, and as he rises up, jump into his arms, hugging him tightly.
“I know you will. And I’ll be strong. Just for you.” I whisper into his chest.
For a while, we just stand there, in the seemingly eternal embrace. But then, we are forced to break apart.
Maybe this would be the last time I would ever see him…
I sigh again. It seems that’s all I’ve been doing lately…
Why? Why can’t I let him go?
If I truly have lost him forever, I can’t live the rest of my life like this. Trapped in an empty world.
Yet, I couldn’t ever dream of forgetting Alfred. F Jones.
He is the only one who haunts my dreams, the only one I want to see more than anyone else.
Plus, he promised and he would never break a promise…
Without another though, I sink back into my reminiscence, to one of the darker times.
A time I wouldn’t mind forgetting.
That day is forever etched into my brain.
The day when things started to fall apart.
“Yes who is it?”
I open my front door and stand face to face with my mailman.
His expression is solemn and in a single gloved hand he holds a letter.
“Are you [F/Name][L/Name]?”
I nod, suddenly nervous.
What’s going on?
Removing his hat, he sighs and hands me the letter.
“This…this is a notice…from the military…”
My eyes widen and I stare up at him in disbelief.
He smiles at me uncertainly, and nods, turning to leave.
I just stand there for a while, staring at this parcel.
This parcel that could be the end of everything.
Maybe, I try to reassure myself, maybe he’s just won a metal? Or has been promoted? Something of that sort…
I’m just jumping to conclusions. That’s all.
I slice the adhesive with the silver letter opener from the coffee table and carefully slide the paper out.
Reading carefully, I feel my stomach start to churn and my heart almost stops.
Dear miss [f/name][l/name],
We are extremely sorry to inform you that
Officer Alfred F. Jones
Is currently missing in Action.
He requested that we alert you if anything was to happen to him, which we are more than willing to do.
Several explosives went off in a confrontation that occurred recently
And no one has been able to locate him thus far.
We will alert you if any new information becomes known.
I feel the letter slip from my fingers, unable to continue reading. Nothing else could possibly fill the newly created void.
My vision had become blurry and I fall backwards, numbly onto the couch.
Even if I feel numb, I can still sense the hot tears running down my face.
Biting in my lip, I begin to break down. Again.
Why do I keep doing this to myself?
Keep rubbing salt into my still open wounds?
I angrily brush the tears away with my sleeve. Enough. Enough tears.
I’ve had enough.
Just as I begin to stand up, I hear the doorbell ring.
I sigh, yet again. Time to put on a happy face. The face of someone who isn’t depressed.
Someone who hasn’t had their love ripped away from them.
I shuffle off to the door and as I open it, beginning with my “Yes, how can I help you?” routine, I’m stopped dead in my tracks.
“Yes, I’m looking for a miss [Name]?” The blonde standing in my doorway grins, his blue eyes sparkling with joy.
In his hand, he holds a bouquet of red roses and even though it’s only been a minute, I can already feel the happiness radiating from him.
“A-Al-fred…” I whisper.
He beams and adjusts his glasses.
“That would be me.”
Tears. Again. These are different though.
In these tears, lie happiness, love and pure relief.
Sobbing, I leap into his outstretched arms.
“I-I th-though y-y-you wouldn’t c-come b-back!” I choke out, burying myself in his embrace, drinking in his familiar scent.
He laughs into my hair, resting his chin on my head and pulls me away so that he can look me in the eyes.
“Why would you think that? I promised, didn’t I?”
I nod, a smile managing to reappear as he wipes away my tears.
I notice he’s still in uniform and figure he must’ve come straight here.
Just to see me.
“But that letter!” I exclaim. “It said you were MIA!”
“Oh that?” Alfred brushes it off and smirks.
“That was no big deal. I could totally handle it.” Then, pulling me close again, he says “Especially if it got in my way of getting back to you.”
I laugh. The first real laugh in too long.
“I love you Al.”
“I love you too, [Name].”