"For the Love of Jasper" One-Shot Contest
Pen name: 118 (on )
Existing work: N/A
Primary Players: Jasper and Alice
see other entries in the "For the Love of Jasper" contest, please
He doesn't quite know how to calm the nerves he is feeling. He doesn't have anyone, and that scares him. If he dies, no one will care, and he wants more than anything to have someone that will.
He walks slowly down the sidewalk focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. Careful, deliberate steps. The weather today is fitting for his mood, and he can't help but be thankful for it. Blue skies and bright sun are masked by bulky ashen clouds that are heavy and burdened with rain. He turns his face towards them, waiting for them to finally rid themselves of the weight they carry. He wants to do the same thing. To let go of the fear that consumes him, before he walks into a battle he may not come out of.
His bus won't arrive for another five hours, he is always early for everything. There is a small diner near the corner, and its silver walls and neon lights are calling to him. This will be the last home he knows for awhile. He wants a cup of coffee and one last meal.
He pulls the bright red door open and steps inside. It smells of grease and sweat. There aren't many people, and it looks as if only one waitress is working. She has her back to him speaking to the cook over the countertop. She's a tiny thing, but he has a feeling she makes up for that in personality. A light blue bow sits atop her black cropped hair.
He takes a seat in one of the booths and looks out the window. Soldiers are walking with their families and friends. He wishes that he had someone to walk with, someone to tell about how afraid he is that he will never know anything other than what he has known for 19 years. He wants someone to say I love you to, someone to promise that he will be back, someone to hope for him to come back.
"What can I get ya?" Her tiny voice breaks him out of his reverie. It's quiet and soft. Now that he can see her face, he takes note of how pretty she is. Petite features and shining blue eyes. The patch sewn on her blue uniform reads, 'Alice'.
"A cup of coffee, please." His southern accent makes a brief appearance, and she smiles at him.
"Nothing to eat?"
"Well, nothing really. You should eat something, though."
He smiles gently at her, overwhelmed by the fact that she cares whether or not he eats. "How about some pancakes?"
"Sure thing." He watches as she makes her way back to the counter. Her hips sway slightly, and the bottom of her dress flutters just a bit.
He tries to turn his eyes away from her, as he is sure she will be scared off by his unusual attention.
Moments later she saunters back over holding a plate of pancakes in one hand and a pot of coffee in the other. She sets the plate down in front of him, and reaches for one of the empty coffee cups on the table.
"So, are you shipping out?"
"Sort of. We're boarding a bus and heading to Seattle for training today. We might ship out, we might not."
She nods silently, and heads back to the counter.
He takes his time, cutting the pancakes in even squares and dipping each into the sticky syrup he has poured on the side of the plate. He commits each bite to memory, knowing that even though these are probably the worst pancakes he has ever had, this is gourmet compared to what he will be eating over there.
When he finishes, he removes the napkin from his lap and sets it gently atop his plate. Alice, who was leaning on the counter with her pretty face resting in her palms, moves towards his table.
"All done, soldier?"
"Please, call me Jasper. Jasper Whitlock." He silently prays that she will remember his name. That if she ever sees it in the lists of a hundred dead soldiers, her heart will remember fondly the soldier she served awful pancakes to in that greasy diner.
"Jasper." She whispers it, and he knows she will remember now. "I'm Alice." She sticks her little hand out and he takes it gently in his. Their eyes meet, and he can't help but feel like he knows her from somewhere. Like he has known her his entire life, but they just lost each other for a little while.
"Alice, would you mind to sit and talk with me a bit?"
She isn't looking at him anymore, but she shakes her head gently. "I can't. My shift doesn't end for an hour."
"I'll wait. If you don't mind. I don't mean to be forward. It's just that a lot is happening, and I could use someone to talk to."
She looks back towards the counter, and then back at him. "Give me a minute, ok?"
He shakes his head, and she walks back over to where the cook is standing. She speaks quietly to the cook, who makes wild gestures but eventually nods his head. She places her tiny hand on his plump cheek, and thanks him.
She unties her apron and hangs it on the hook. Blowing a quick kiss to the round man, she walks back towards him.
"Ok, Jasper. Follow me."
She takes his hand in hers, and the difference is startling. Her hand is tiny, soft, and cold. His is large, rough, and warm. They walk hand in hand down to a small bench. He waits for her to take her seat before he sits opposite of her on the bench.
"Tell me about it."
He spends the next hour explaining his entire life to the pretty girl with a blue bow in her hair. He tells her about his parents dying in a car accident a few years ago, he was an only child, he has been traveling all over for work and doesn't really have a place to call home. Her blue eyes shine back at him, and he is lost and found at the same time. The words just fall from his lips, but she nods encouragingly and just lets him talk.
"And I'm scared. I'm so scared that no one will care."
"Care about what?" It's the first time she has spoken since he started telling his story. He didn't even realize it, but as soon as he hears it he knows that he has missed the sweet sound.
"About me. Whether I live or die." She jumps off of the bench and moves to stand in front of him. Her hands might be small, but when she grabs his face he realizes she is much stronger than he has given her credit for.
"You listen to me, Jasper Whitlock. I care. Don't you leave thinking that no one cares. I do. Do you understand me?"
"You don't even know me. How can you care?"
Her grip on his jaw tightens, and her blue eyes are blazing. She is fire and ice. "Don't question it. You just told me your life story. I know your name, and your face. I want to see you again."
"I can't guarantee that."
"Write to me."
"What?" He doesn't want pity, especially not from her. She's beautiful and he knows she is taken.
"Write. To. Me."
"I'm sure your boyfriend wouldn't like that."
"I don't have one."
"Oh. Well, I don't have your address."
She lets go of his face, and points her finger at him. "Stay right here. Don't move." He can't help but nod at her. He can't explain it, but he would wait for her forever.
She comes running back with a pen and a pad of paper in her hand. She quickly writes something down, and tears the page off.
"Here." She offers the paper to him, and he takes it gently. Her address is written in clear print, and he smiles down at the paper.
"Will you do it?"
"Yes." He has it now. Someone. She will probably never know what this means to him. How much it means that she has taken the time to talk to him in his last few hours. He will write to her, even if she never writes back.
"When does your bus leave?"
"I have an hour."
"Tell me about other things."
For his last hour, they played an odd game of twenty questions. She asked about his favorite color, music, movie, and book. She wanted to know if he ever had a pet, did he know how to swim, and did he like to dance. She told him about her family, and silly stories about the diner. He found himself completely lost in her smile and her laugh. He would remember this beautiful girl. He would make it through this, just in case she really did want to see him again.
He glances at his watch and turns to look at her. Her face is so sad, and he wants her to smile again.
"Will you walk with me to my bus stop?"
Her rosy cheeks bunch up as she smiles. Her entire face shines. "Of course, Jasper."
They arrive at the stop, and watch as everyone else says their goodbyes. He doesn't know what to say to this girl who would now be his existence.
"Give me the paper, Jasper." His face falls, but he hands it back to her. How quickly he falls from being someone to being no one.
"Oh, Jasper." Her hand touches his face gently this time. "I just want to do something. I'll give it right back, soldier."
She takes the paper, and pokes a hole in the folded left corner. She reaches up and unties the blue ribbon in her hair. Pulling the shiny silk ribbon through the hole she ties a bow, and hands it back to him.
The bus doors have opened and soldiers are beginning to board.
"Don't forget me." He whispers.
She stands on her toes and wraps her arms gently around his neck. "I don't think I ever will."
He boards the bus, and watches her as the bus drives away. Her blue eyes call to him, and his body wants to return to her.
He keeps his promise, and writes to her often. Always in blue ink, as it reminds him of her eyes.
Today we were told that our company will be shipping out. I'm a little nervous, but happy to have someone to write to. We had hoped that we wouldn't need to go, but we were fooling ourselves. Our commander acts as if this is completely normal. Like, we walk into blazing fields of death and torture every day of our lives. I don't feel normal at all. I feel lost. I hope this letter finds you well.
Remember when I told you that I hate to play ping pong? Well, I'm learning to like it. It is the only thing to do in our downtime. I managed to actually win a game the other day, but I'm not sure it really counts as he had an injured wrist. There isn't much happening yet. We are doing training, and it leaves my body tired and sore. Tell me a story about the diner in your next letter.
He hated to write and tell her about the awful things he was experiencing, but she had asked him not to sugar coat it. He wanted to shield and protect her from this awful thing. He also wanted her to know the truth. He constantly fought a battle against himself, as to whether or not the information he was sharing was too much or not enough. He wanted her to know everything, and he wanted to know everything about her.
Today I found one of my boys lying on the ground. He was bleeding heavily, and had been stripped of his shoes and clothes. He isn't the first, and God knows he won't be the last. Every time it happens I end up on my knees, cursing and crying. He was someone. He had a mother. I wonder if they even know they have lost him. He is gone. I'm losing my sanity.
As the months ticked by, they grew more comfortable in their letters. Formal names led to shortened versions or nicknames. She hated to be called Ali, but she had told him in her last letter that she would let him get away with it until he came back. It had made his heart soar when it desperately wanted to break.
Your letter arrived just when I needed it. I hope you know that your letters are keeping my head above the water these days.
The view from where I stand is sad and strange. It is evening, and the stillness is awful. I am sitting alone, and the moon is just barely showing through the clouds. There is no light. Everything looks, smells, sounds, and feels like impending death. I think I may be losing my grip. Sometimes I swear I can hear the end coming. One by one they are being chosen, and I feel helpless to stop it.
It wasn't long after that letter that she told him she thought she might love him. If it were possible for your heart to break and finally be whole again all at once, that's what had happened. He had never intended for her to love him. He knew he would only be in her life long enough to break her heart when he lost his life. He saw things every day that made him believe that that day would be his very last. He had to tell her the truth, though. That he was afraid that he loved her, too.
There is a hill just outside of our barracks. Sometimes, when the moon is shining bright enough, I sit up there and watch the clouds float back and forth. I think that's when I miss you the most. So much that I think my heart will break out of my chest.
The moon is shining brightly tonight, but I can't sit on the hill. Currently, 500,000 men with guns are sitting there determined to take my future from me. I won't let them have it, because I believe it belongs to you. It's hard though. My life is currently measured in breaths. My last, this one, and the next one. Know that I think of you constantly.
All of my love,
God, I miss you. Your last letter made me smile. I love hearing your diner stories. I can't wait to eat those awful pancakes again.
It's lonely here. I'm trying to distance myself from the boys, because it's hard to lose one of them and even harder to lose a friend. It's not working very well. They are a great bunch of guys. One of them just had a baby girl. She is five days old, but with that wonderful news came terrible news. His wife died just after she gave birth. He is torn up. It's killing me, and I don't know what to say.
Missing you always,
It's not always bad over here. You will never guess what happened tonight. The sun had just set, and we were all sitting outside talking. I looked up, and there was a rainbow. Can you believe that?! I'm not even sure how that happened without the sun, but it was absolutely there. It made me think of you. Sweet girls, like you, don't fall in love with boys like me every day. I consider myself to be the luckiest man alive.
You hold every piece of my heart,
He was certain he would never feel normal again. He was a different person than he was 11 months ago, but she had grown with him. Nothing would ever be easy for them, but he had to hope that what they had developed would last. It was hard being here, but he knew it was hard for her to wait for him. Her letter's always spoke directly to his heart, and left him floating for days.
I believe the postman is beginning to dislike me. Each day I wait on the front steps, and when he doesn't bring a letter he refuses to look me in the eyes. Today is the 7th day without a letter from you. Where are you, dear boy?
I went to church again today. It's becoming a bit of a pattern. I can't describe it, but it makes me feel like I am actively doing something to preserve your well-being. When I pray, I imagine that my prayer leaves my heart and moves across the ocean to wrap itself around you.
I want so badly to feel you again. It's odd, but I miss the feeling of your hand in mine. I know we have talked about this, but it just felt right. Like, I'd been waiting for you my whole life. Please know that you have my whole heart with you. You have everything I have to give. Be safe.
Come back to me,