The Call

December 2019

Through the rainy window, he stared at the flickering neon hotel sign in the distance and waited for the words to come. Cuddled up against him, her hand on his chest, he knew she still believed they had a choice. Still believed they had a way out, so long as they could come up with the right course of action. He racked his brain again, considering their options, and how each would unfold. The only real choice was what type of pain they were willing to deal with, and how soon. He looked at his hand, flexing its prosthetic fingers as he considered how this next tour could end. In some ways, losing the hand hurt less than those lonely months apart, unable to hold her or play silly games as they drank cheap beer and danced to old Elvis songs in the living room. But his C.O. gave no room to decline the summons: “you ship out on the 20th.” He let out a deep sigh, one of many since he got the call. There were some things that even love couldn’t overcome, it seemed. And what kind of man would he be to deny his duty? Some things were bigger than happiness. He stroked her hair and told her everything was going to be alright, knowing the promise was beyond his power to keep.