He lay back in his cot. He hadn't had a day this long since he first came over to Iraq. He read the letter over and over again. She's having second thoughts. He sighed silently. He knew that the life he decided to live for his family wasn't easy on her and he knew that his second deployment in almost as many years to Iraq made it even harder on her. When I get back home, we're going to go to Hawai'i for a week. Just me and Jen. He wanted to hold his wife and get to know her again. He felt like a stranger to her and he was sure she felt the same.
He was tired and wanted to sleep, but he found that sleep was hard to come by as he thought of his family at home. He wondered if Joey was learning to talk and if Courtney had finally let go of the binkie. He wondered how tall Courtney was getting. He wondered if his marriage would survive this deployment.
Knowing he couldn't sleep, he made his way to the phones. He dialed their number and felt his heart jump when she picked up. "Hey, baby!"
"Johnny!" She felt the tears of joy form. He hadn't been able to call for a while and when he did, she didn't make it to the phone. "I'm so glad to hear from you."
"Jesus, it's great to hear your voice." He wanted to jump through the phone and kiss her. "Everything okay there?"
"Yeah. The kids are sleeping." Her soft Southern accent made him long to hold her close and make love to her. "We went to the park today and they loved the carousel." She wiped some tears. She missed him and wanted him home so he wouldn't miss days like today.
"It's the same old here. I wish I had news like you. But, we're pretty stagnant here."
"John, you don't have to have news. I just want to hear your voice." She felt the tears form and knew her voice cracked. "You have no idea how much I miss you."
"I might." He smiled even though he knew she wouldn't see it. "You're all that gets me through this shit."
"I love you, John."
"I know. You know how much I love you, don't you?"
"Yeah. I do."
"I know this hasn't been easy on you and I'm sorry. I just wish I could…"
"I married a Soldier, John. Whether or not I like where the Army sends you, I have to deal with it. I'm not your wife, John. I'm your mistress. The Army and America and the flag have to come before family and I knew that when I married you. I may hate the fact you're deployed, but I love you and I'm willing to do my part to support you as you support us."
"I didn't get to tell you why I got extended." He sighed. He knew she wasn't going to like this.
"No, you didn't. Why?"
"They've got a new unit from 3rd ID coming and their Platoon Sergeant had emergency surgery and Chris is their new Platoon Sarge. He's pissed off about it and to make it easier for him, they extended me as well."
"When do you come home?"
"God, John. You've already been over there a year." She was frustrated. "Can't they find another Captain?"
"As long as Chris is here, they want me here." He knew she was angry and he knew that her life just got a lot more complicated and rough. "I don't want it any more than you do, believe me. I miss you like crazy and I want nothing more than to be at home, with you and the kids."
"You have to do what you have to, John." She wiped a few stray tears away. Another year without him. How will I survive? She thought. "Just know that no matter how long they keep you there that I'll be here waiting for you. The Army can not destroy our marriage."
"I love you, Jennifer."
"I love you, too, Jonathan."
He hung up the phone, hating that the Army was extending him. He hoped that he could last another year without her.