To celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, we asked our readers and fans to write a 600-word story to go along with this photo. Here are the entries we received:
Love—Don’t Leave Home Without It
by Tammy Wartell
Lynn felt like she was just background noise to the military. Everything else always came first: the mission, deployments, people her husband worked with, but never her. Her husband Scott got orders, she had to follow. She had sacrificed a career, a lifetime really, to follow and support her husband. This time was different. He took orders; she said no. I am happy here; I will stay, and you may go. It is not a life I want anymore. I am too old; we have children. I want to be settled for our children to have roots. We are all happy here. Her brunette hair fell across her face. He was mad: Why would she not take the family and support the job that had given them a good life?
Twenty-one years ago, she said yes to the military when she said yes to him. Now it was different. He took orders to where he thought she would want to go—a warm place, not cold like Virginia could sometimes get. For Scott, it was very confusing to have been with someone for twenty-one years and now not understand her. He had to go, there was no choice. The orders to the warm place were his alone. She had stood her ground on this one. The next day as she was getting the kids ready for school and getting ready for work. He felt overwhelmed with sadness. All this time he had never noticed her—how pretty she was, how kind and how much she did without complaining. She was always surrounded by a group of friends. This was the first time he really truly saw her sacrifice. She could have married anyone but she chose him, and she stood by her vows and supported him. Scott had orders and this person, his best friend for the first time ever, was not going. No matter what Scott did she said she wanted to stay in Virginia.
Scott worked and missed his family. The three children they had he missed terribly. He had too much time to think. At night sometimes, he would go to the brewpub and talk to the old bartender. Wise old guy would ask what is a fellow like you doing here. One day Scott told him it all just came out.
The bartender told him, “Well have you ever told her you appreciated her sacrifice, how she’s a good mom, what she really means to you?”
Scott had never realized it but he never had. He was too cutting with his words, too much of a tough guy but now it was killing him.
At 6 a.m., he hopped on a flight. He told his wife to meet him at their spot. She left the kids with a friend and met him. When he took her in his arms, he said, “Lynn, I am not sorry for our life the past twenty-one years, but I am sorry I took you for granted. I have to finish my time at my duty station, but I put in my retirement papers. Babe, I am coming home.”
He leaned his head down and kissed her and knew he would never ever let her go again. She smiled and said, “That is the best Valentine’s Day present ever.”
They went home, got the kids dressed up, and all of them went to celebrate at a much fancier diner than the brewpub. She got roses for the first time ever and candy and had never felt more loved.
Tammy Wartell, a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, is a freelance writer and pre-kindergarten teacher. She has been featured in Boating Times and Nextgenmilspouse. She has also been featured in several e-zines .
by Star LaBranche
She wanted to run. No, she needed to run. She needed to get as far away from this man as humanly possible and never look back. As she stood stiffly in his arms, he looked down at her with a loving gaze.
“You make me so happy,” he murmured, stroking her hair.
She shuddered at his touch.
“It’s late. I should be getting home,” she said, softly.
“It’s not that late,” he chuckled.
“I have work tomorrow. Bright and early,” she added, trying to leave his encircling arms.
He held her tighter, stopping her egress. “You can stay a bit longer,” he smiled. “We only made love once today, after all.”
“I’m really tired,” she said, yawning for emphasis. “I think I should get home.” He’ll do it again. The thought had popped into her head multiple times in the last hour. I’m in danger, and I need to get away. But her every attempt to leave was being met with resistance. Her brain was screaming at her to get away from him through any means necessary.
She wondered if she should fight him. But as soon as that thought occurred to her, she knew how foolish it sounded. He was much bigger and stronger than she was. Even without the weapons he had lined up in the den where they had just been, he could easily overpower her. Just like he had overpowered her when they were watching a movie on his couch.
Run, her mind urged her. After it was over, she had been so stunned and disoriented by what happened that she had agreed to go on a walk along the lines of his expansive property. She felt as if her brain was processing information at a snail’s pace. She stared off into the distance as he said something she didn’t catch.
“I’ve had a great time,” she lied. “We’ll get together soon, okay?”
“Really? You’re just going to leave me?” he asked, his smile fading. “You should stay for dinner, at least. I make a great pizza.”
“I’d love to, but you know, work,” she said, trying to sound disappointed. She started to extract herself from his arms again.
He caught her before she got very far and pulled her against him. “Well okay, this time,” he said. “But next time, you’re spending the night. I make really great omelets as well.”
“Yeah, that sounds nice,” she said. She had to get away from him. She had to get away now. She was starting to realize exactly what had happened to her and her feeling of unease was replaced with horror.
He took her hand and started leading her toward her truck. “You should really stay,” he informed her. “I know you have work, but when you really want something you work hard to make it happen.”
“Sorry,” she said, fishing her keys out of her small purse. “Next time, I promise.”
“Sure, baby,” he said, once they had arrived at her car. “I can’t wait to see you again,” he said, stroking her face. “You’re so beautiful.”
She made what she thought was a pleased sound. “I’ll send you a text soon,” she promised. She was so close to getting out of there. He gave her another kiss before she was finally able to slip from his grasp and slid into the truck. Shutting the door, he stood back while she started the engine. She waved as she drove off of his property.
He walked back to the house, whistling. He had had a great time.
Star LaBranche is a writer who dreams of living in the desert with a rescue corgi. She provides copyediting, writing, and proofreading services for individuals or businesses. Contact her at www.starlabranche.com.