John turned back around to face her. "You'll talk?" he questioned, making sure he had heard her right.
Emily nodded, tears brimming her eyes. John sat back down on the bed and looked at his hands, waiting for her to begin talking. She took a minute to compose herself, taking a deep breath and wiping the tears from her eyes.
"I was sent over to Iraq a little more than a year and a half ago. Brian was already over there and had been for six months. I had been to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, but I had never been to Iraq and from what Brian had told me, I was kind of nervous about going. And as soon as I stepped foot onto that military flight from Virginia, I knew something bad was going to happen."
"There was no way you could get out of it?" John asked.
"You don't know much about the military, do you? I didn't even have five years under my belt. That doesn't pull much weight. Plus I didn't want Brian over there alone with the feeling I had."
Emily became silent and stared at the curtain covered window. John began to think that maybe she had changed her mind about opening up, but then she took another deep breath and continued.
"But, I just had to suck it up. It was my job. I got over there and Brian had pulled some strings so that we'd at least be able to see each other everyday. And we did," she said, smiling slightly at the memories. "We saw each other everyday for eleven months until he died. October 29, 2006. That date will be etched in my mind forever."
She paused again, the tears overwhelming her. "I don't know if I can do this, John. You'll hate me once you find out. Randy would hate me."
"Em," he said, moving beside her and placing a comforting arm around her shaking shoulders. "Randy could never hate you; I know that for a fact. I also know that I could never, ever hate you."
"But you don't understand. It's my fault that Brian's gone."
"Oh, baby, no it isn't. You can't blame yourself for something that some idiot did."
"He was just out for a routine walk. It was about seven in the morning and it was just him and five other guys. A boy came up to them, about nine or ten years old. The other guys thought nothing of it. After all, it wasn't unusual for kids to do that and we've always been nice to the kids unless there are suspicions. Brian had his suspicions as soon as the kid walked up to them. The other guys he was with were not as experienced as he was. He had anywhere from five to seven years experience on them. He tried to tell them to move on; to keep going. They didn't listen. Before they had time to react, a grenade was on the ground in front of them."
John began to regret pushing her to talk. He could tell it was taking everything out of her to tell him this. At the same time, however, he knew that she couldn't keep it bottled up inside.
"I was back at the base, just keeping tabs on the wounded soldiers. I remember I was feeling really uneasy because it had been quiet for three or four days and I knew it couldn't last. Sure, enough, everyone with medical experience was called to the front for incoming wounded."
She ran as fast as she could to where the injured troops were being brought in. "What's the deal, Marcus?" she asked the Army Sergeant who was one of her husband's best friends.
"A grenade. Three dead, two with lost limbs but they're being taken care of. And one is critically injured."
"It's not good, Em," he said, removing his hat. "It's Brian."
"No," she told him, matter of factly. "No. It's not."
"I'm sorry, Emily."
She looked around and finally spotted the love of her life. She ran to his side, her heart almost pounding out of her chest. His sandy blond hair was stained red and his normally almost golden eyes were dark.
"Baby," she said, holding his head in her arms.
"Emily," he whispered weakly. "I'm sorry."
"Sorry for what, Brian? You have nothing to be sorry for."
"I'm sorry for not giving you the family you always wanted," he said, the little light in his eyes slowly fading as Emily's were overcome with tears.
"Brian, don't give up, please. You're going to be okay, baby," she cried before looking over to Marcus who had come to stand beside her. "Isn't there anything we can do?" she asked him out of earshot of Brian.
He sadly shook his head, laying a comforting hand on her shoulder before leaving her and her husband alone for their last few minutes together. She looked back down at Brian, his head still in her arms.
"I love you, Emily Claire, forever. Don't forget that," he said, before the light in his eyes burned out.
So, this is a sad chapter, but it had to be done. I actually almost cried while writing it because it is a very realistic situation nowadays. Anyway, please review. This story is one that is very personal for me and I would love to hear what you all think of it.