Sunday, April 14, 2013

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On Leave
I inhale. Take in a monster drag and hold the smoke, let it filter through my nasal passages and infiltrate my brain. Hold it until I feel my chest constrict. I contemplate blowing smoke rings, but decide against it. Just exhale, slow and steady, and watch the thick, white fog billow in front of me and diffuse into the air before the ceiling fan and air purifier do their work and whisk it away as thought it had never been there. And then, I sigh.  I’m gonna have to stop smoking this shit when Kevin comes back.



I take another drag off the blunt and reach for my wine glass. Kevin is better known as Second Lieutenant Kevin Jackson, United States Marine Corps. He’s also my husband, who is on his third tour of duty in Iraq…or Iran…or some-fucking-where in the fucking desert. I put down my glass and go, for the fifth time tonight, to look in on the kids. My babies. Still young enough to not mind sharing a room, they’re snug in their little twin beds, peaceful as can be. I gently close their door and go, for the fiftieth time tonight, to check the security system.
I’ve gotten more and more OCD about the alarm system this time around. During Kev’s first two tours, it was enough to know it was set, we were safe in the house, and all was well. But lately, I don’t feel as safe as I used to. It’s like I’m always waiting for something. I don’t exactly know what. But…something…
I pull in another lungful of smoke and settle back into my spot at the desk in the room I’ve made my office. I think about moving into the living room, but the idea of having to take down the drapes and shampoo the couch and chairs makes me stay put. Kevin don’t play. He’s got a nose like a bloodhound and he’d smell the smoke no matter how long it’d been. Doesn’t seem worth all that effort. And besides, the weed is taking effect and I’m starting to forget how uncomfortable this supposedly ‘ergonomically correct’ desk chair is. I kill what’s left of the bottle and turn the purifier up to its highest setting.
I’d been a trooper through the first two deployments. The brave little missus, raising the kids, running the house, writing, calling, emailing, facebooking, skyping. Shit, I’ve gotten the better at phone sex than Girl 6. I don’t mind though. Just doing my part to fight the war on terrorism from the homefront. But I’m getting tired. Damned tired. Especially since this last tour was voluntary. For Kevin, that is. Not for me. And not for the kids.
I try to ignore the vacant look in his eyes whenever he’s home on leave. The way he can never quite adjust to civilian life. I don’t ask questions, don’t hover or try to pull stories or information out of him. Never ask if he’s fucking somebody over there. After the first tour, newly married and insecure, I’d made him promise never to tell me about anything that happened while he was gone. Figured it was better not to know. And with the stories I’ve heard from the other wives…shit, it just seems like common sense not to even ask. But, I’d figured out that there were some things he needed to share, so by the time he came back from the second tour, I knew what to ask and what to let be.
I noticed a real change in him at the airport the last time he was home. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was like he had left some part of himself across the ocean. Me, I didn’t say a word. Figured when he was ready, he’d open up. The thing is, though, he never did. Never has. Just slides further and further away. I can feel my marriage slipping through my fingers, and there’s not a damned thing I can do to stop it. When my girlfriend, Tracy–who’s husband is in Kevin’s unit–let it slip that Kevin had offered his last few days of leave to her husband Rob, I knew there was a problem. Kevin may have lost interest in marriage and the world stateside, but he loves his kids more than life.  If he doesn’t want to come home to see them, something is wrong. Terribly wrong.
I’m shaken from my thoughts by a noise just outside the window. I almost jump out of my skin and then laughed at my own silliness when I realize it’s just a stray cat, probably getting blown around by the wind that seems to be picking up. Sounds like a storm is brewing. I make a mental note to check the weather for the rest of the week in the morning; no sense in being caught off guard. I take one last, hard drag and stubb out the blunt, put the roach and the ashtray in the bottom drawer of my desk. I switch off the purifyer and decide to let the ceiling fan run until morning.
I make one last round–do one more house check, go back to my room, crawl under the covers and turn on the TV. I set the sleep timer and close my eyes. This has become my routine in Kevin’s absence. When he’s home, we hardly ever watch TV in the bedroom. Kevin is serious about his shut-eye, and besides, we usually find better things to do. But since he’s been gone this last time, I’m battling a ridiculous case of insomnia. The kind where your eyes pop open at midnight and stay that way until an hour before you’re supposed to wake up. The kind that leaves you groggy and irritable the next day. And it’s getting worse. On top of all of that, I’ve developed an irrational obssession with the security system.
That’s actually not completely accurate. My obsession is more with the keypad. Sometimes I lie in bed for hours, staring at the green lights and wondering what in the hell I would ever do if those little lights suddenly lined themselves up and went red. What would I do if the alarm screeched and the system actually earned what it’s costing us in monitoring fees every month and announced an intruder? There are nights when I drive myself into fits of sheer terror. Just the thought that the kids are down the hall, on the opposite side of the house, and they would be hard to get to in an emergency situation freaks me out.  And even though Kevin keeps a gun in the house, I’m too afraid of guns to even pull it out of the safe and look at it–much less use it.
Afraid of guns. Some military wife. I have spent more nights than I care to admit staring at that keypad, praying for our safety, Kevin’s safety, the safe return of all of our soldiers overseas…it’s exhausting. I used to have the kids sleep in my room until I realized I would eventually have to explain to them why they couldn’t sleep in their own beds. “Because Mommy’s afraid of the security alarm keypad, that’s why…”
Didn’t seem like a conversation I wanted to have, so I let them go back to sleeping in their room and took to leaving various lights on in strategic locations throughout the house at night. Not because I’m afraid of the dark, but because I figure the more lights, the less likely some crack-head robber would be to break in, seeing as how they wouldn’t want to have to kill somebody cuz then they would end up with a murder case (on top of a robbery case), and all that shit would be military, which would make it even worse for them…like I said, the whole thing is irrational.
Anyway, I usually find myself exactly where I was a few minutes ago, in my office, smoking mad blunts and sipping on wine, trying to lull myself into enough of a haze to chase sleep down and wrestle with it until I feel myself drifting off.
I’m this close to being asleep, when I remember I’ve forgotten to turn on the hall light and the light over the stove, but I’m too drowsy and a little too fucked up to care. I look at the clock: 3:45 a.m.
Awesome. Two hours and fifteen minutes and it’ll be time to get up and get the day started…just great. I roll over and bury my head in my pillow. The last thing I see before I close my eyes is the picture of Kevin that I keep on the nightstand.
                                                                           ****
I spread my legs wider. As far apart as they’ll go. Knees up. Back planted firmly on the bed. I palm his ass and pull him into me. As deep as he can get. My rhythm matches his, until we’re moving in unison, two parts of the same well-oiled machine.
“Mmmmm….” Kevin’s moan rolls up from the bottom of his feet and rumbles through him until it finally escapes his lips and blows into my ear like a secret.
“That’s it, baby. Stay right there,” I tell him. Like a good soldier, he does as he’s told and switches from an up and down motion to slow-moving, spot-hitting circles that have me gripping the sheets and swirling my hips to meet each thrust.
“So wet…” he mumbles. “So good.” He slows his pace and kisses me, deeper than he’s ever kissed me.
“Open you eyes, love.”
This time, I do as I’m told. Never seen that much passion. Raw. Pure. Unadulterated passion. And desire. I ride a wave of extacy that leaves me damn near delirious and I fight the urge to close my eyes again, so I can thoroughly enjoy it. Kevin pulls away from me and stares directly into my eyes.
“I love you more than I love myself. You know that. Don’t you?” I don’t know how he could have doubted that I know after what we’d just done, but I answer anyway.
“Of course, baby. I love you too.”
He puts his huge, incredibly strong hands underneath me and lifts my ass until he’s so deep in, I can’t even move my hips to meet him halfway. I relax and let him do his thing, feeling, for the first time in my life what it truly means to become one with another person. We trade emotions…swap heartbeats. His inhale becomes my exhale. My movements become his reactions. We pass through each other on our way to each other. Tears creep down my cheeks, and I grip him with every muscle in my body. Lock my legs around his waist and lock him in place right where I want him…close to me.
He slides his arm behind me again and flips us both over until I’m situated in my favorite spot on top, looking down into that handsome face of his, that is so twisted with desire I almost don’t recognize it. His hands find their way to the small of my back and massage me into electric spasms that rock me back and forth. I pin his arms down at his sides and lift myself up until I hover just above his body, dripping sweet, sticky nectar onto his skin until he whispers, “Give it to me, baby.”
I laugh. A throaty, seductive laugh that’s reserved just for him, and ease down slowly until I’m just close enough for him to feel the heat emanating from my core. Slowly, I inch down a little further, just enough to make sure the head slides in easily. Keeping my balance, I ease down, further still, one centimeter at a time, until he’s almost in. When he begs for me to take it all, to stop teasing him, I put my full weight down, impaling myself completely with the entire, rock-hard length of him and work his shit like a Bangkok hooker on payday.
He leans forward and breathes me in. Like he’s trying to keep  a part of me inside him. His tongue darts across my nipple. I pull him closer and he sucks and nibbles one while he pinches the other with the perfect amount of pressure. I’m raining wet and soaking the sheets under us both.
“Oh shit…baby…” he’s breathless. He grabs my waist, and we cross through each other again, a ridiculous orgasm slamming into me on my way back to Earth. I can tell by his breathing and that soft, barritone rumble in his throat that he’s not far behind. We cross each other again and this time, we catch ourselves and blend together, holding on for life, as we climax together.
When we shift from the ethereal and make our way back to the material confines of the bed, I stay exactly where I am long enough to feel him grow hard again inside me, and we trade time and space and heartbeats again and again, until the dark blackness outside the bedroom window gives way to the grey-violet first light of early morning.
He holds me in his arms, and as I drift off to sleep again, he whispers in my ear: “I  love you, Kaya. I will always love you.”
“I love you too, Kevin. So much.” I turn my back to him and wrap myself in his strong, protective embrace. Suddenly, I remember the questions I’d meant to ask him earlier:
“Why didn’t you tell me you were coming? I would’ve picked you up from the airport. And how did you get in without setting off the alarm?”
****
I feel them arrive before the sedan with the government issue license plates pulls into my driveway. As the two officers in dress uniforms approach my front door, I feel my legs go weak. It’s all I can do to make it to the front door and remember how to open it.
“Mrs. Jackson?” I nod my head in the affirmantive, unable to answer.
“I’m Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Sloan.” He clears his throat and continues. “We regret to inform you…Second Lieutenant Kevin Jackson was killed in the line of duty yesterday…”
I shake my head, trying to clear the fog that’s rolling in, dulling my senses… I only hear bits and pieces of his speech.
“… roadside IED exploded during a transport mission…was killed on impact…”
“But…” I mumble, “he was just here…last night…”
I don’t understand what’s happening. I just made love to my husband. He held me. I can still feel his kisses on my body. Not three hours earlier, I was wrapped in his arms. He was gone when I woke up this morning… but he had to report to base. Right? No matter how long he was gone, he always came back to me…he had told me he loved me…that he would always love me…
The world went black.
“Ma’am? Ma’am are you okay?” At some point, the Colonel has picked me up off of the floor and placed me on my couch.
“We’re sorry for your loss.” The other soldier picks up where he’d left off when I fainted.
When they’re gone, I wander around the house in a daze. I call my mother and arrange for her to pick the kids up from school and keep them for the night, and then, slowly, I make the long walk down the hall to my bedroom. I punch in the security code on my way to the bed and lay down. I can still smell his scent on the sheets. Can still feel his warmth in the place where he’d slept, holding me in his arms.
"I  love you, Kaya. I will always love you…"
The lights on the keypad blur, as my tears soak the pillow beneath my head.
"On Leave" is part of the collection: "On the Other Side: Tales From the Dark Side of Love &; Desire"  By A. Rozelle