David Soto Writes

I think I figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

Tag: iraq

Maria’s Mom Visits – Post 23

As soon as Maria got off of Skype with Tim, she quickly walked the living room where her mother was waiting, sat down next to her, curled into a ball, and cried.

Maria’s mother, Espi (short for Esperanza), had taken the first flight out of Los Angeles to Sacramento as soon as she heard the news. Espi was the one who signed Maria out of the hospital.

“What am I going to do, Mama.”

“You’re going to try again,”Espi hesitated. “and you’re going to be strong.”

“I can’t.”

“What do you mean you can’t? You have to; you’re the wife.”

“Yeah, the wife. I’m not the man. The man is the one who was supposed to be strong.”

“Who told you that? Mira, every strong, powerful, and successful man that you know of is that way because of his wife. When the president of the United States has a long and terrible and stressful day who’s shoulder, do you think he leans on? Do you think that these men don’t breakdown, don’t have moments of weakness. Of course they do. They are flawed and imperfect just like any other man. They just hide it from everyone. Everyone except the one person they can’t, their wife. The wife keeps them strong by being strong for them and by being silent.”

“What does silent have to do with it?”

“Listen, the only difference between a man in a position of power and his followers is that they don’t know of his weaknesses. But his wife does. She knows them all. Think of any politician, or celebrity, or athlete that was put to shame when people realized that flawed. People lost respect for them. They have to bow out of political races or lost millions of dollars worth of endorsements all because word got out. And who told their secret? Their wives.”

“But what about Bill Clinton? Hillary didn’t…”

“Yeah yeah. I know,” Espi interrupted. “It was that pinche gringa that ratted him out. Even the strongest woman can be outdone by a man’s own stupidity. But let me ask you something. You don’t think that it that was his first time do you? Or that she didn’t already know? That man was embarrassed in front of the entire world, but it wasn’t because of his wife. She kept silent.”

“All men have flaws and weaknesses,” Espi continued. “The powerful and most respected men have one person that they can trust to show these flaws and weaknesses, and that is their wife. These men would not reach the status that they had if their wives let it out that they cry at night or like to suck toes.”

“Mama!”

“Well…”

“I just find this all hard to believe right now.”

“Who is the most strongest hardest working man you know?”

“Daddy.”

“Was he a good father to you and husband to me.”

“Yes, of course.”

“When was the last time you saw your father take a drink.”

“Geez, I was young. Maybe like my eighth birthday party?”

“And his drunk ass fell out of the tree trying to hang your piñata.”

Maria giggled, “yeah.”

“He used to go out a few times a week and get drunk with his friends after work. It used to bother me, but I let him do it. He would come home drunk belligerent loud and try to have his way with me. Sometimes I let him and sometimes I fought him off. I tolerated this for many years. Until I found out.”

“Found out what?”

“I eventually cut him off completely. I couldn’t stand his drunk ass on top of me. So as a result, he started to go out and get what he needed elsewhere.”

“What?”

“He had a girlfriend. Some skinny bitch that worked at Clark’s where he would buy his beer.”

“How did you find out?”

“His said her name one night drunk and on the verge of passing out. A few days later I found a note with a lipstick kiss on it on the back of a Clark’s receipt. I could’ve cried. Probably did actually. I could’ve picked you up and went to my moms. I could’ve left him or even worse. But I didn’t. I was strong. He was my husband this was my family, and I wasn’t gonna let anything take that away from me. So every day before I picked you up from school, I went to Clark’s. And eventually, I saw a name tag that said, ’Stephanie.’ I asked her if she knew somebody named Hector Rodriguez. She was chewing gum and smiled when she heard the name. She told me, “Yeah that’s my boyfriend.’ That’s when I grabbed her by the hair and said, “That’s my fucking husband you bitch.” And slammed her head into the cash register.

“Oh my god, mama.”

“That’s why we never went back to that store,” Espi said with a smile on her face.

“That afternoon I had your Tia pick you up from school and take you home. I went to your dad’s work and met him at his car when he got off work. ’It all stops now,’ I said. ’The drinking and the fucking around with this bitch Stephanie stops now. If you love me, if you love your daughter, if you want to have a family, it’s all done.’ I was in tears. ’I’m going to pick up Maria. If I see you at the house when I get home, I’ll know you made your decision.’ He was home when we got there and he’s been sober ever since.”

“I don’t know what to say,” Maria said.

“Two things, Maria. If I hadn’t been strong and stood up for what I believed in, for my family it all would’ve been gone. Everything that you know of in the past 15 years or so of your life would’ve been different. Also, if I hadn’t kept silent everyone would’ve lost respect for your father including you.”

“I only tell you this now because I know you’re old enough not to judge your father for the mistakes he made as a young man. I was strong and silent. And, if you want to keep your husband and your eventual family, you will do the same.”

The First Load of Laundry – Post 22

Since they started living together, Tim and Maria both slept in the nude. Even in his dream state, Tim knew this. So it made sense that he removed his clothes before he got back in bed with Maria after sleepwalking.

Maria found the first pile of clothes in the laundry room not long after she noticed the door being open in the mornings. The clothes were still clean. Apparently only having been worn for just a little while. They still smelled like she pulled them out of the dryer on Sunday. Without even thinking about it, she neatly folded them back up and put them away.

She had to think for a while. She understood why Tim would get undressed to get in bed. But why did he get dressed in the first place? There were no clothes the first few nights he went out which meant he was out there naked. Maybe he didn’t mind being naked because he was in the backyard. If this was the case, then that meant that he got dressed to go beyond the confines of their property. He was going out into the city.

*

Eventually, one morning she couldn’t just fold the clothes up and put them away. They were filthy. They were dirty, grimy in some spots. When she put them up to her nose, they no longer had that fresh scent out of just coming out of the dryer. They smelled like Tim. He had been sweating in them.

Everything had been simple until now. Concealing Tim’s sleepwalking sessions didn’t require a lot of deception or even thought. She realized that if she was going to continue to protect him, to keep silent, things were going to get complicated. She was going to have to do somethings behind his back and keep more from him than expected. Was it worth it? Her husband had been through enough, she thought. He didn’t need to go through any more trauma.

She started the washing machine.

They Finally Skype – Post 21

When Tim read the words, “I am in the hospital. We lost a baby.” His heart sank. It took everything he had to keep his composure. The last thing he wanted to do was break down and cry right there in front of everybody in internet café.

“60 seconds number 18!” A voice yelled over the crowd. That was Tim. He was on the computer numbered 18. He waited in line and hour to get five minutes on the computer. Com had been down for five days. They usually are in the event of a casualty. This allows the government to notify the family before they hear the news through the grapevine. The fact that the attack, which yielded the casualty, took out the power plant meant that com was down for longer than usual. When it finally came back up, everyone wanted to get online to notify their family that they were OK. Thus the brass required a five minute limit on all computers at the internet café.

“I’m sorry.” was the next thing to pop up in Tim’s instant messenger window.

“Don’t be. You didn’t do anything wrong,” Tim typed. “Be sad but don’t be sorry. Call your mother. Fly her in for a few days. I’m about to get cut off. We’ll Skype later. I love you.”

“Times up number 18,” a voice yelled.

“I’m signing off right now. Give me a fucking second,” Tim responded to the voice.

It was after normal duty hours so he went to the only place he knew he could be alone, the shop. When he got to the door, he frantically unlocked the padlock as if he was trying to get into the bathroom and was about to piss his pants. As soon as he opened the door, he stepped in, and it slammed behind him. He leaned back against the door and slid down to the ground and started sobbing.

*

It cost him six 1-pint water bottles of his homemade wine to get access to an unauthorized computer in the COM tent. Being a civil engineer had its privileges in the desert but so did being in the Communications Squadron. Each of the tents where the COM squadron members quartered had a computer and unlimited internet access. While the six members that occupied this tent were out enjoying Tim’s hooch, he had complete privacy and over an hour’s worth of access to the internet. This was when he Skyped Maria.

After a long while of them crying and trying to assure each other that they would be OK, Tim finally got around to telling Maria what happened.

“The news was wrong. It wasn’t four. It was only two,” Tim said. “One of them was my troop, Senior Airman Ricketts.”

The mortar round blew Airman Ricketts to pieces, and the ensuing fire ensured that there was nothing to send home to his parents. Sergeant Martinez survived the blast but not fire. Diesel fuel surrounded the hardened shelter that was the operations plant and engulfed it in flames. Martinez opened the door but quickly closed it after the heat singed his mustache and eyebrows. The autopsy report read that Martinez died of smoke inhalation.

Breaking the rules was probably what saved Senior Airman Jones’s and Airman Ski’s life. They were sitting in the pickup with the windows up. The engine ran while the AC blew, keeping them cool and wasting taxpayer’s money. Protected by the concrete barriers they did not get much of the blast wave from the explosion or the shrapnel from the mortar. Thinking quickly, Jones threw the gearshift into drive and sped away. When he realized that the tires were on fire, he slammed on the brakes, threw it into park, and he and Ski jumped out and ran to safety.

“This whole thing sucks, Babe. I just want to come home,” Tim told Maria.

*

Though he did tell Maria the gruesome truth of what happened, he didn’t tell her how it made him feel. He still couldn’t believe he lost someone under his “command.” In the movies, it happens all the time. But even in the movies, it only happened officers or senior enlisted in the Marines and Army, not Air Force Staff Sergeants in charge of the heating and air shop. He was also disgusted and disappointed with himself. If he hadn’t of told them to “get lost” or had just gone with them, Ricketts would be alive. The worst part about it was every day they had to go to work where there were reminders of Ricketts everywhere. Also since every game of dominoes would have to be cutthroat now, they just stopped playing altogether.

The Attack – Post 13

The one thing you have to deal with on a deployment, no matter what branch of service you are in, is boredom. For soldiers, it’s the time in-between missions outside the wire. For HVAC technicians, it’s the time in between service calls.

When you are good at your job, do all your routine maintenance, and only have a total of 106 air conditioners on base, you don’t get many service calls. And when you do, with four very qualified technicians ready to pounce on it like over compensating bouncers in a bar fight, no air conditioner stays broken very long.

The members of the 447th Civil Engineering Squadron HVAC shop spent most of their day playing dominoes. The thing is they couldn’t do it in the shop unless they were on an official break, like lunch. For them to be able to play all day, they had to get creative.

The center of the front seat of their six pack pick up folded down when there was no need for the middle seat. After a trading frozen bottles of water (Ice was a hot commodity in the desert) for some wood and time in the Carpentry Shop, Tim and his Airmen fabricated a table top to fit perfectly over the folded down seat. A little bit of trim around the perimeter of the table top made it possible to mix the dominoes up and not lose any between and under the seats of the truck. After the completion of their table top, when it came for the crew to go “get lost,” they could park anywhere, set up their table, and bust out the “bones.”

The four of them spent many an hour out behind the fuel bladders of the Power Plant. The power plant was noisy and smelled of diesel fuel, so people tended to avoid it. Except for the Power Production Engineers, of course. There was always at least one person there to monitor everything.

On the day of the incident, there was no work to be done. But the boys needed to get out of the shop. Being seen in the shop meant you weren’t out working in the field. It didn’t matter that there wasn’t any actual work to do in the field. It just mattered that you weren’t in the shop.

The morning of the attack, Tim was about to head out to the power plant with his troops when he got a phone call from his boss, Master Sergeant Mattingly. The Master Sergeant wanted to go over the evaluations Tim wrote on Jones and Ski. The Master Sergeant was a stickler for well-written paperwork.

“Do you want us to wait for you, Sergeant?” Ricketts asked.

“Nah. You guys go ahead and play cutthroat,” Tim said. “The Master Sergeant is pretty anal when it comes to these things. This will take all morning. Just come get me for chow.”

“Roger that, Sergeant,” Ricketts said as he and the rest of the troops headed out to the power plant.

*

Dominoes just works better with four people. There are two teams of two and everyone gets seven dominoes. This leaves no dominoes left over, and with that, it’s easier to count the dominoes, a strategy used by advanced players.  Cutthroat is an everyman for himself version and not as fun. That’s why when Airmen Jones, Ricketts, and Ski got to the power plant, Ricketts went looking for a fourth.

The 12-foot tall jersey barriers that protected the fuel bladders were also what concealed the crew when they were out playing dominoes. The 8-foot long concrete monstrosities surrounded the bladders, but they did not butt up against each other. There had to be enough room for an Airman to be able to connected hoses to the bladders from the refueling trucks.

After parking in their regular spot, Senior Airman Ricketts went out to see who was manning the controls in the power plant, their possible fourth. Taking a short cut, he slid sideways between two jersey barriers. Then, even though it was forbidden, he walked over the fuel bladders, like a little kid in a rented bouncy castle. Once he got across, he squeezed in between two more of the portable concrete walls and walked over to the power plant. He knocked on the door but walked in without waiting for a response.

Inside the plant Ricketts found Martinez sitting in a chair with his head nodding, fighting to stay awake. Martinez was a grey-haired, overweight Technical Sergeant from the Arizona Air National Guard. He was way older than most Tech Sergeants, something common among the Guard guys. He was in the army when he was younger and missed being in uniform. He joined the Air Guard after a couple of co-workers convinced him.

“We don’t do shit but play cards and drink coffee,” they said. That sounded good to Martinez. He enlisted at the age of 38 he and was probably one of the oldest Senior Airmen in the country. For the next several years he drank coffee and played cards one weekend a month, two weeks a year, then 9-11 happened. He was now on his second deployment. He would have gotten out after his first, spending time away from his beloved wife and three daughters was hard on him, but two words caused him to reenlist once again, “Retirement Check.”

“Hey, Sergeant! Just checking on you AC,” Ricketts lied. “How is it working?”

Ricketts knew as soon as he saw Martinez that they were going to have to play cutthroat. The crew had nothing in common with a middle-aged Guard guy from Tucson, AZ. Inviting him in the confines of their six pack to play dominoes was like inviting a priest to a party. Yeah, he’ll go and even drink, but you’d have to be on your best behavior while he’s there.

Mattingly ended up postponing the meeting with Tim by notifying him that he had, “more pressing shit to handle.” Having sent the boys off to get lost, Tim had some free time and decided to head to the morale tent. It was early back home, but there was still a chance Maria would be up. She had been waking up at odd times since she got pregnant.

During the day the morale tent was nearly empty. He didn’t even have to wait for a computer. He logged in right away and checked if she was online. She wasn’t on Facebook as far as he could tell, so he sent her a message.

“Babe, I got some free time. Are you up? I would love to see your face.”

Tim clicked away at random shit while he waited for a response.

“I’m up. Let me pee and then I’ll Skype you.”

“Yesss,” Tim said as he gave a fist pump. He clicked over to and updated his status to “about to get online with my baby!”

*

While Tim was Skyping with Maria and Ricketts was feeding a line of bullshit to Martinez, a piece of ice at the bottom of a mortar tube reached its breaking point. It had melted from a small block to a thin sheet, and the weight of the mortar round caused it to crack allowing the mortar to drop onto the firing pin, sending it off towards the direction of the base.

Mortars fired towards the base rarely did severe damage. Iraqi civilians, who were paid by insurgents, randomly set the stovepipes in place. They were aimed with no accuracy or care and set with the makeshift time day, ice. They sometimes flew over the base and sometimes hit just short of it. When they did make it into the base, they usually hit something noncritical like and empty hanger or a dirt field. One time some shrapnel ripped through a Cadillac shitter severing a water line, rendering the bathroom unusable for a few hours. That was the worst of it, though.

So when this mortar hit dead center of the jersey barriers that surrounded the fuel bladders, it was a one in a million shot. It was also a one in a million shot that Ricketts was on his way back to tell the boys that they had to play cutthroat. And, even though it was forbidden, Ricketts was happily bouncing on the fuel bladders like a little kid in a rented bouncy castle when the mortar hit.

We are now to the stuff I started working on when I decided to create this website. This material is now a couple months old instead of six months or more. I had a hell of a time getting this one ready. Let me know what you think or if my dimensions of those jersey barriers are off.

Tim Goes To The Doctor – Post 12

The next morning Maria told Tim what happened as she dabbed the corners of her eyes with the cuffs of her oversized sweatshirt preventing Tim from actually seeing any tears.

“Take me to the hospital!” Tim insisted, even though he had no recollection of what happened. “Right now!” Tim was very protective of his petite wife. He proved that in that night in Sacramento. He wouldn’t let anyone do physical harm to her, including himself. If this meant the lock him up in s straight jacket then so be it.

“Okay,” Maria said, no longer able to prevent the tears from rolling down her face.

*

They spent the entire day at the base hospital waiting room hoping for an opportunity to see a doctor. It was quite the sight there among the rows of interconnecting black vinyl and chrome metal chairs, similar to what you would find at an airport. There were two kinds of people one would typically find in a base hospital waiting room. There are the retirees who did their 20 years. Some more that 40 years ago. And there are the homely dependent wives who won the medical coverage lottery by landing themselves a just as homely Airman. They greedily wait with their sick, snotty nosed kids for medical attention as if it was actual food or money.

Tim and Maria both were relieved when they heard the name “SSgt Rogers” announced, anxious to get the hell out of that waiting room. They were both escorted to the Psychiatrist office by a female Airman who’s hair color made them question if it was “natural in appearance” as the regulation required.

The doctor asked a series of questions as he typed on the computer. The screen of the computer was positioned as such that they couldn’t tell if the doctor was taking notes or chatting with his mistress. When the doctor finished asking what seemed like a standard set of questions, he diagnosed Tim with a mild case of somnambulism also known as sleepwalking and wrote a prescription for Desyrel. The doctor eluded to a possibility of PTSD and suggested he see a psychologist and get involved in counseling, right away.

As they both walked out of the doctor’s office, the doctor waited a few seconds and then peeked his head out the door and shouted, “Mrs. Rogers, Did you fill out this form?”

“Yes,” Maria responded. “I did.”

“Could you come here for a second and help me with your handwriting please,” the doctor asked.

“Go ahead to the pharmacy, babe. I’ll be right there,” Maria told Tim.

When she got back to the doctor’s office, she found him sitting at his desk with her husband’s file closed. She was aware of his ruse. “Mrs. Rogers, I wanted to let you know two things without your husband around.” He was no longer the droid of a person who asked the questions without any emotion earlier. He showed genuine concern as he continued, “One, please let us know if these dreams continue or get worse. We will have to have him come in for sleep observation if it does. And two, this one is important. If there is any sign of violence, ANY sign, please report it to Security Forces.” Maria and Tim had agreed ahead of time to leave out the part about the wrist lock he had put her on her. They both knew it would lead to all kinds of trouble if they did.

“Base cops, why them?” she asked.

“To eliminate the threat,” He answered.

Maria knew what that meant and knew there was no way in hell she was going to call Security Forces on her husband. The thought of him sleeping in a tiny room with cameras on him and wires attached to his body came to mind. No way, she thought.

“Yes, sir!” she responded to the Lieutenant Colonel doctor, having forgotten that she was no longer obligated to address him as sir, and went off to meet here husband.

While last week’s post was practically a complete rewrite, this week’s required that I fill in the blanks. I ended up doubling the word count again. I don’t know if this will stand on its own as a chapter or be added to the end of the previous one.

The Nightmares Continue – Post 11

On their second night together after Tim’s homecoming from Iraq, Maria was awoken again by Tim’s frantic breathing. Not as scared as she was the previous night, she turned on her side to face him, propped herself up on her right elbow and placed her left hand on his chest, giving him a quick shake with hopes of waking him. Remembering how this had no impact the night before, she didn’t even bother to call his name. She realized that she couldn’t wake him and that she was just going to have to ride it out.

She watched her husband inhale and exhale short quick breaths like a woman in labor. The little bit of nighttime light that made its way into the bedroom through the window reflected off the beads of sweat forming on Tim’s forehead. When she looked closer, she could see a tear roll out of Tim’s eye and down his cheek.  Crying herself, she wiped his tear away and reached over to the side of his face she couldn’t see and wipe just in case there was one there too.  She laid there next to her husband with her hand on his chest, feeling it rise up and then down rapidly until Tim gave out one final big exaltation and his breathing returned to normal.

The next day Maria, very casually, brought the dream up to Tim, again he had no recollection.

The dreams continued every night. They progressively got a little worse or lasted a little longer. Maria rode out each event from beginning to end. Wiping both her husband’s and her own tears until Tim’s big exhalation, which seemed to be the signal that the event was over and he would return to regular sleep.

One night, Maria didn’t awake to Tim’s heavy breathing but to find him sitting up on the edge of the bed with his feet on the floor as if he was about to get up to do something. “Timothy, what’s wrong?” No answer. “Timothy?” Again, no answer. “Timothy, what are you doing?” Frustrated that her husband was ignoring her, she got out of bed and stood naked in front of him. Their heights were on such different ends of the spectrum that with Tim in the sitting position, she was looking at him eye to eye. She waved her hand in front of his open blue eyes. He did not acknowledge the moment. Could he be…? She put her right hand on his left shoulder and started to shake. Without hesitation, Tim reached across the front of his body with his right hand and grabbed Maria’s palm between his thumb and fingers. He applied force to the back of her hand with his thumb, causing it to bend at the wrist and then rotated her hand clockwise 180 degrees.

Maria immediately screamed in pain. The pressure on her wrist forced her to bend over at the waist to prevent her arm from breaking. “Timothy, you’re hurting me.” Tim didn’t respond. “Timothy, wake up!” As soon as she said this, she realized two things. One, he was asleep and two, she wasn’t going to be able to wake him.

Helpless, Maria wondered if she was gong to be able to ride this one out. Her very large and very strong husband was hurting her. She was, for the first time since they met, afraid of him. Regardless of all this, she blamed herself. She should have known he was sleeping. She shouldn’t have tried to wake him. Still bent over, crying in pain, not knowing what to do, she heard Tim give a big exhale and let her go. He laid back down in bed and didn’t move until the morning.

As soon as Tim let go of her hand, Maria fell to the ground holding her arm and sobbing. She was in the wrist lock for only a few seconds, but it felt like hours. She was amazed at how many things went through her mind in that short about of time. She spent the rest of that night on the couch, but she didn’t sleep.

Wow! I pretty much completely rewrote this chapter. I must have written it in March of this year when I was thinking this was going to be a short story. Also, I am a better writer now than I was a week ago let alone six months ago.

Please leave comments and feedback below. Thanks!

The Dropped Call – Post 9

By the time Maria was three and a half months pregnant, Tim had already been in country 90 days. Life wasn’t so hard for Tim. Everyone loved the AC guys in the desert. Tim and Maria communicated regularly via Skype and Facebook. Tim would often turn the monitor and make sure no one was looking and would have his wife show him her bare belly. Every now and then, if he was lucky, Maria would flash her breast.

“Are you being safe?”

“Yes, babe. I’m being safe. It’s a little too safe actually.”

“Don’t say that,” she scolded him.

“Well, I got to say, it’a little boring. All I do is fix air conditioners, that and go to meetings. Nothing ever happens!”

He was lying, partially. He was telling the truth about being bored but, even inside the wire, there was a level of danger. Rockets and mortars were often randomly fired into the base. They were set off by a time delay. No one actually took aim. So, haphazardly, they landed where ever they landed rarely hitting anything of significance.

“Well keep it that way,” she said, “your ass ain’t getting out of helping me deliver this baby that easy.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the wor…” The call dropped.

After a few failed attempts at reconnecting, Maria decided either the base communications went down, or the generators were out. Both of which happened on somewhat of a regular occurrence. She would try again tomorrow.

The next morning Maria was stunned when the news anchor claimed that four Airmen were killed as a result of a mortar attack at Camp Sather yesterday. The very base Tim was stationed. She immediately got online to see if Tim was online or at least to see if he had been online at all since the day before. His last post on Facebook was a status update that he was, “about to get online with my baby!”  He hadn’t been online since their call dropped. Off course, she assumed the worst.

She was devastated. For the next several days, she barely ate and barely drank. She hit the refresh button on her computer over and over. All she ever saw was Tim’s last status update, “about to get online with my baby!” All of this was taking its toll on her body.

The guys in Tim’s unit back in the States were of no help either. None of them had any information. Everyone was waiting.

It was on the third day after she heard of the attack on the news that Maria noticed blood in her panties when she went to pee. Later, after a few hours of trying not to think about it, the pain hit her. Doubled over on the floor of her Beale Air Force Base, ranch style, three bedroom home she called 911.

*

When she came to, she recognized the smell, the terrible lighting, and the white walls, floors, and ceilings. She was in the hospital. “My phone,” she thought. It happened to be next to her on a little table next to a plastic pitcher of water. She immediately fumbled for it and checked Tim’s Facebook status, “about to get online with my baby!” She curled up and cried herself back to sleep.

She was woken up a couple of hours later with repeated notifications on her phone. They were Facebook messages.

“Babe!”

“Babe, I’m ok!”

“Babe, are you there?”

She reached over to turn the phone to silent but took a quick peek and saw her husband’s messages. Confused about how to feel, she flopped back in her bed relieved that her husband was not one of the four dead but then saddened by what she had to tell him. She messaged him back, “Timothy!”

“Babe, I’m ok. Can you Skype? I only have a few minutes.”

“Oh, Timothy…”

“Get on Skype, Babe. I’ll explain everything.”

“I can’t, Timothy. I’m not at home.”

“Where are you?”

“I’m in the hospital.”

“What?! What happened?”

“The baby, Timothy! Our baby…”

The more I read, the better writer I become. As I work on becoming a better writer, I can see where I can improve on what I have already written. I am a direct and to the point kind of a person. People like that in my non-fiction writing but I can see where it may make for a, kind of, blah novel.

As always, feel free to leave some feedback in the comments section below. Especially if it has something to do with losing a baby. I’ve have very little experience with this, so I could use some help here.

Continue to next chapter.

The First Nightmare – Post 8

Before the sleep walking started, there were just nightmares. The first one happened the night Tim got back from Iraq. Maria had everything planned for his return. When his plane landed, she messaged a girlfriend to “go ahead.”

When Tim walked out of from behind the terminal security, he calmly walked over to his petite wife, dropped his bags, and picked her up and hugged her all without saying a word. Through his embrace, he tried to communicate to her how much he missed her, how sorry he was for everything that happened, how much he loved her, and how truly glad he was to be home.

The drive back to base from the airport was quiet. There is an awkwardness of being reunited with your wife after coming back from war. It goes away with time. Maria did relay the story of how she drove Tim’s pickup one night to a vacant house on base. She removed the screen door and installed it the same night on their house. It wasn’t exactly theft because she was merely transferring it from one government building to another. Tim laughed at the story but felt odd that there were things that had happened in his wife’s life over the past few months that he didn’t know about.

When they arrived home the house illuminated with the glow of vanilla scented candles, Tim’s favorite. Though the bubbles had fizzled out, the water drawn in the tub was still warm. They awkwardly got undressed like they were new lovers about to make love for the first time and got in the tub where Maria bathed her husband. It wasn’t until he saw it there piled on the floor that Tim noticed Maria’s outfit. It was the exact dress Tim had seen in a Victoria’s Secret catalog the guys were gawking over in the shop one day. He had torn the page out and sent it to Maria with a note saying, “I would love to see you in this.” She had taken the picture to Vitoria’s Secret where a clerk helped her order the form fitting, pink with black lace trim dress along with the very high heel shoes the model was wearing. Tim was upset he hadn’t noticed it on her but was thrilled that she had gone through all that trouble.

After the bath, they made their way to the bedroom and got into bed where Tim immediately fell asleep. For months all he could think about was making love to his wife, but it would have to wait one more day.

When Maria noticed her husband was asleep, she wasn’t disappointed. She knew what he had gone through. She got up and blew out all the candles in the house and then crawled back into bed next to her husband and fell asleep, relieved that he was home.

A couple of hours later she woke up to Tim frantically huffing and puffing. “Timothy, what’s wrong?” Tim continued to huff and puff. “Timothy,” her volume increased. “Timothy!” She started to shake him. She could tell he was having a nightmare but couldn’t wake him. Tim then took one giant inhalation and fell silent. He didn’t wake until the morning.

The next morning Tim made love to his wife after four long months. Afterward, while enjoying their first cup of coffee together since the day he left, Maria brought up the nightmare. Tim had no recollection of it. Maria blew it off as a one-time thing and hoped it would never happen again but it did.

What do you think? Any input would help. Please post it below. Thanks!

Continue to next chapter.

Maria Comes Home From Work – Post 7

Maria came home to her clean shaven husband waiting for her watching tv everyday. Once she changed out of her clothes, she started dinner. It wasn’t that Tim couldn’t cook. He was quite capable. He just loved that Maria cooked for him every night. Anything Maria made was delicious even if it were just grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. He especially loved it when she made her mother’s enchiladas mineras, though he did her mother’s were better.

*

“It smells like “Mi Ranchito” in here.” These were the first words out of Tim’s mouth when he walked into Maria’s parents’ house. Mi Ranchito was a small family owned Mexican restaurant off the beaten path in Lincoln. Once Maria took him there, he made sure they stopped every time they passed through on their way to go to the movies or something in Roseville.

They took leave together one time and drove down to Gardena to meet her parents. Tim routed the trip down the Pacific Coast Hwy, which included a romantic stop in Pismo Beach.

*

After dinner, they usually went for a walk around the neighborhood. When they returned, they collapsed in front of the tv until Maria started to dose off. Tim would see her fight off sleep out of the corner of his eye and then would turn the tv off and say, “let’s go to bed, babe.”

Although it was never said out loud, they had an agreement that they would sleep nude every night. If one of them forgot, they would be harshly reminded. It was usually Tim since he was the first one in bed. “Uhh, what the fuck is this?” Maria would say as soon as she had noticed Tim still had his boxer briefs on. “Get them off!”

They made love every night. If they didn’t make love before falling asleep Tim would wake her up in the middle of the night with kisses and a gentle touch. She never turned him away. Their passion is one of the things that kept them together. Maria loved to make love to him, especially when he was on top of her. She loved feeling his long muscular body pressed against hers. She’d hold his head with both her hands. Her thumbs placed perfectly behind his ears as she looked into his eyes as she climaxed. This was her favorite way to make love to her husband. She got tremendous pleasure from these sensual moments. She also welcomed every opportunity to get pregnant again.

There are some important details in this post. Should I be telling you this? Anyway, enjoy. Post any comments, feedback, or questions below.

Tim Leaves For Iraq – Post 5

Official government travel meant Tim could take a taxi, limo, or whatever else to the airport on the government’s dime but, of course, Maria wanted to drive him.

“Just drop me off here,” Tim said.

“No. I want to park and go in with you,” Maria argued.

“It’s useless. You can’t get passed security anyway. Besides, we might as well get it over with.”

“Okay,” she responded with tears in her eyes.

“No lloras, mi amor.” Tim’s Spanish was limited to very few words, but they were effective ones.

“Be safe, Timothy.”

“I will,” he assured her with an eye roll.

“I’m serious. God damn it!”

“Babe, I’m not a soldier. I’m a heating and air guy. I’ll never leave the wire.”

“Still,” she said. “You better be safe.”

“I will, Babe. I promise.” He gave her a kiss and then kissed her belly. He then opened the door, grabbed his pack, and left. Maria was two months pregnant.

*

They found out she was pregnant just a month before she was due to separate from the Air Force. This was a problem. The uneasiness of not having a job with full benefits weighed heavily on the expectant mother. That and the fact that Tim had recently found out that it was his turn to deploy.

“What am I going to do, Timothy?”

Tim, without hesitation, responded, “We’ll go to Reno!”

They didn’t tell anyone. They went up to Reno on a Saturday as Tim and Maria and came back on Sunday as Mr. and Mrs. Rogers. On Monday, they let the Air Force know, changing their statuses to “married” and naming each other as their spouse. A necessary step to ensure Maria would have medical coverage when she got out in a couple of weeks.

Of course, the families were disappointed when they were notified via speaker phone that Sunday on the drive back from Reno. They made the newlyweds promise a ceremony and party when Tim got back. It never happened.

 

I am still publishing “chapters” that I wrote months ago. I thought I was writing a short story then, so I left out a lot of details. I went back and added some to this excerpt right before I hit publish. Longer chapters with more details are coming soon. ~Dave

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