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by Mouser
Rated: E · Short Story · Family · #1756550
Waiting is never easy


         The waiting was the hardest part.

         It always was.

         You can’t have much of a conversation in the back of a military aircraft. Sergeant Miller sat with his back to the wall of the airplane feeling its power and vibration. He did not review the plan.  He knew it.  His men knew it.  They all sat in veteran impassive silence, unable to speak over the noise, just waiting.

         He thought of Carly then.  He always tried not to think of her but it never worked.

         The way she looked, her dark hair never quite the way she wanted it, her eyes of bottomless brown that had stolen his heart long ago.  The smell of her, the musky perfume and feminine sweat at the end of the day.  The way she turned her head at an angle when she was going to say something she thought he wouldn’t like.

         The frozen moments wonderful and horrible that make a family.  The loving of course, but also the stiff-lipped way she tried not to cry when he was deployed.  The way she looked up at him at homecoming.  Her trembling pride and fear of childbirth which they had feared he might not be there for but was.

         Their daughter, Emily, was wet and red and squalling and the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.  The trembling love he could never really express - the weakness it made him feel and the strength he drew from it.  The inexpressible pride he felt holding that tiny part of him and passing her to his grinning father.

         The years had passed with love and pain.  As a soldier he knew better than most that nothing was ever really free, but some things were well worth the price.

         They had seen him off again of course.  Emmy was trying not to cry too - part her mother and part him - in that chemistry which seemed magical to him when she melted him with her dark eyes so much like her mother’s.  She had worn one of those dresses his in laws always bought her instead of the usual jeans and t-shirt.  That always made him think of the time he missed with her.  She was more a young woman than his baby with each return.

         He blinked away that pain and remembered her softball games.  Second base the same as he had played at that age, more pride, more pain.  She had her mother’s proud grin when she’d stolen that base - beating the throw.

         The long letters no longer in the stiff childish printing.  The last one had mentioned a boy.  He knew he had to face that too, another pang.

         They had stood there for a long time waving.  He could see them, arms around each other straight backed and proud and could feel his eyes burn.

         He blinked and turned his eyes down the double row of men staring each into their own private world, waiting.

         The light beside the back ramp went to amber.

         In his loud bull sergeant voice he called them to their feet and to begin the jump drill, checking equipment and calling out when done.

         This waiting was almost done.  The ramp hissed down with an icy blast of wind and yawning darkness.  The sound became almost as hard as the wind.

         The Captain looked at him and he gave the quick nod and thumbs up.

         The light changed and they jumped into the night.

         The wait for the sharp jerk of the parachute would not be long this time.  They were coming in too low for any pause.

         He swung back and forth only three times before his boots hit the desert floor.  Tuck and roll was automatic, and gathering the chute.

         The men were readying weapons deploying to drop perimeter stations by the plan.  Hand signals visible in the small light of the partial moon.

         He thought of her again once he saw the positions were correct and the officers approaching.  There would be no time for a while for distractions.  He knew he could control it for a while.

         But he thought of Carly driving home maybe letting Emmy drive, with her new license, returning to their daily lives.  Their wait had already begun when the airplane had left the ground.

         He had things to do from now on, duties and responsibilities.

              The waiting was the hardest part.

         It always was.

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