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February 06, 2008



The pit of my stomache was so empty I thought I would die.

He was going away again, going away in the dark morning before the sun rose.
I usually said good-bye to him from the house, but with one vehicle, I needed to drive him this time. He was always so good about making sure that I had what I needed while he was gone. All that I needed to get by in case he didn’t make it back, the will, the power of attorney, the life insurance a full kerosene heater, and batteries in the flashlights, strategically positioned in case the power went out in the middle of winter. Yes, he always made sure we were going to be okay.

I drove him in silence. We said all we had to say. Now was the time to start questioning whether or not the war should’ve happened, or whether or not he should’ve joined the Army. Now was the time to start counting the days, put on the brave face and let him know that I’d be here for him when he returned. No matter how long it took or how things may change, I would be here, holding down the homefront in my dutiful sort of way. It was the least I could do. He had always taken care of me. This was the only way I could thank him. Now he was taking care of so many more than just me, taking care of his fellow soldiers in the heat of battle, taking care of those fellow Americans he had never even met. How could I stand between a calling such as that? It was greater than us. I just had to accept it.…and count the days.

We drove into the airfield parking lot. He was so much stronger than I. I tried to be brave for him. He needed me the most now. I helped him unload his gear and wanted so badly to walk him into the building where they all waited, but I knew that is not a place for wives. I looked into his eyes trying to communicate what I knew he already knew, but I felt I needed to say. But the words could not come. We embraced so tightly that our hearts beat in unison for one brief moment, but then it was over. We had to let go.

I held back the tears as I watched him turn and walk toward the hanger. He turned just before he went in and gave a wave. He disappeared. I was alone again. I shook from within as the tears welled up within me. I returned to the car and gave into weeping. It was cold and quiet. A few minutes passed and I looked up to see the sun rising and reflecting on the frosty morning. The good-bye was over now.

I drove away looking forward to the welcome home.


Before I ever go I have to find her. There is no leaving this house without first seeing her in it, fixing her in a room, an angle of shadow, a pose of hand to cheek, head to pillow, however she holds herself in the house that holds us all. Knowing where I've left her I can ease away in any old thing--Ari's crumbling Honda, my jr. high scooter, my skateboard, my own two boat-feet that carry me fast down these suburban blocks packed with houses and half-houses, the apartments made from garages or, hell, tree-houses. The craftsman-style, the moderns, the fake and real tudors, the bungalows pick up speed beside me the harder my feet dig the sidewalk. I feel their blur before I've closed the door behind me, before she's said the word I never say. Can I explain? For my mother goodbye is a word in the ranks of "look at that sky" or "your father's not feeling well" or "on you that skirt looks common." An all-purpose, any occasion kind of word. Me, I take my talk the way my daddy pours a drink, slow. It's not that I'm so smart and I am not cruel. Let's say I'm reticent and goodbye is a word not to be rushed out your mouth. I learned this from my mother who rushed all things even, especially me, the day she propped me against the eucalyptus with a sippy-cup and hard-crusted white bread and said, "still, hold still." And made me wait while she painted, while she talked, while she smoked in her car, feet pulled in because only common women smoke outdoors.

Gwendolen Gross

Not a Place for Wives, Jomodee, would be a fabulous title. What details! I'm welling up! I'm waiting for the return! So lovely and sad.

Gwendolen Gross

an angle of shadow, a pose of hand to cheek, head to pillow, however she holds herself in the house that holds us all.

El, you gave me shivers. Glorious details, such specific, poetic writing. How awful and wonderful and how entirely WOW.
Thank you.

Jennifer Carol

"Wow! I can't believe how much it's rained today. By the way, congratulations sweetie." The air in the car is slightly heavy with humidity from our wet clothes. I spent the afternoon watching my oldest daughter play softball in the rain. "Thanks mom," she says. Although the rain is much needed after our long summer drought, I hate it. I hate that the gray clouds hang over my heart. My body feels full of lead and I can barely move, although I don’t show it. “Okay, we’re almost there. Make sure all of your stuff is in your bag. I’d hate for you to forget something,” I say. Vicki looks around her picking up her shoes, book and pencil and puts them in her little camouflage-green, string back pack. We pull into the parking lot and I find her father’s blue truck. I pull up next to it and put my car in park without turning off then engine.

“Okay, I’ll get your bag and you need to say goodbye to your sister,” I say. “Bye T, I love you … brat,” Vicki says. As I grab the door handle my mind goes through all the things I want to say. I can’t stop thinking about how much I’m going to miss her. She is the sweetest most caring person that I know. Imagining me without her to argue with, laugh and cry with is just not possible. Incomplete doesn’t begin to cover how I feel without her. I knew this day was coming. She’ll be with her dad so in my head I know she’ll be just fine.

Vicki’s hair hangs limply around her face, making it look almost brown. Her eyes shine like bright pools of blue water. The freckles lining her cheeks dance around her eyes. “Alright now, I think you’ve got everything. Be good for your dad, okay. I love you, my sweetie pie, sugar muffin.” “I love you too, mommy,” she says. Putting my hands on her cheeks, I feel the warmth of her face and can’t help but give her kiss after kiss on each cheek, her nose and her forehead. “You are my precious angel and I love you,” I said as I looked seriously into her blue eyes. I gave her a quick hug and shut the door. We waved goodbye and the blue truck drove out of sight.

I got back into my car and my younger daughter climbed over the tan fabric and plopped herself into the front seat. We pulled out of the parking lot and onto the road. As I started toward the interstate my eyes welled up tears. Warm tears poured down my face as drove.

This one was harder to write. It took me three attempts to get through it. I guess I had a mental block against it. This is a fun website, great ideas. Thanks.

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