"Be safe, Jeremy," Denise ordered as her only son once again boarded an Air Force jet to Iraq. The three months since she's last seen him had passed at a snail's pace, but the 8 days he'd been home flown by in a flash. She tried to hide her fears from him and from Frank, but the last few days she just hadn't felt like herself. She felt like she was watching her life from outside her body, and it made it hard to keep control. As Frank led her away from the air strip she bit her lip to keep from crying, by the time they drove back to their house and he'd pulled the old Ford into the drive she was in tears, and by the time Frank opened her door to help her out of the car, she was no longer able to hide her emotions."
"Dee, don't cry, Honey. He'll be home again before you know it," Frank comforted pulling Denise into his arms and swaying side to side.
"I can't help it," Denise sobbed against his shoulders. "I've never cried like this before, not since the first time you deployed."
"I know you haven't," Frank said brushing some hair off her face "I've never seen you this upset. Are you sure there isn't anything else bothering you?"
"I don't know," Denise sighed. "I'm just tired. My stomach been acting up lately."
Frank was getting concerned but stayed cool, "Okay, well it's probably all the stress of the last few days. Let's get you inside so you can lie down."
Frank led Denise into the house keeping his arm locked around her waist so she could lay her head on his shoulder. "That's what I thought the last time. Why are you being so nice to me?"
By now Frank was confused and heading straight for worried. "Because I love you, Sweetheart. Denise, what's wrong? Has something happened you aren't telling me about?" Frank asked her.
She shook her head, "Not really," she sniffled definitely in the mood to cuddle.
They made it all the way into the house. Frank steered Denise to the sofa and sat down with her in his arms. "Ssh, it's okay, Sweetie. Don't cry. Are you tired?" he asked playing with her hair and kissing her forehead every so often.
"I miss him, Frank," Denise cried. "I'm scared this time, like I know something gonna happen to him. It's the first time no one I knew has been with him over there."
"Ssh. I know you miss him, but he's well trained and he's going to be just fine," Frank told her trying his best to stop her tears. It tore him up to see her crying. "He knows what he's doing and he'll be home to make a mess and see his mom again in no time."
"Can you do something for me?" Denise asked looking at Frank with big wet eyes, puppy dog eyes.
"Sure, Sweetheart. Anything you want. What do you need me to do?" Frank asked desperate to help her feel better.
"Can you go to the Commissary and get me some Ginger Ale and Oreo cookies?" Denise asked quietly.
Frank looked at Denise as if she sprouted a third arm, Denise hated Oreo cookies, but he didn't say anything, he didn't want to make her get upset again. "Sure, no problem," he told her kissing her forehead before grabbing his jacket and keys and leaving the house.
Frank drove to the commissary, he walked in and got Denise her ginger ale and oreos, he then went to the checkout counter where he met up with Roland. "Hey Frank, how is Denise?"
"Ah she's okay. She is a little upset over Jeremy leaving, and was feeling a little sick so I came to get her ginger ale, hopefully it is just nerves though," he replied.
"Sick how?" Roland asked. He was conscious of his friend's health and Denise's had been precarious since her bout with pneumonia.
"Nauseated, mostly," Frank replied.
"So I take it the Oreos are for you?' Roland asked. "Survival food?"
"No, Denise asked me to get them for her, she must be getting sick considering she hates these things," Frank said chuckling
"Not for nothing, but women don't eat things they don't like when they're sick, usually they don't even eat things they do like when they're sick," Roland commented. "Jeremy left today, right?"
"Yeah, why?" Frank was curious.
"Did he like Oreos?" Roland asked.
"Yeah, he and I both do; he gets it from me," Frank replied.
"Maybe she's trying to fill the void," Roland suggested. "Let her indulge for a day or two, but if it keeps up or gets worse, give me a call, I'll come by, talk to her, off the record. It's hard for a woman Denise's age to see their children grown up."
"Sure thing, thanks Roland, I better get back to her," he told him, paying for the things he had got and left the store heading home.
Frank pulled into the driveway surprised to find the garage opened and the motorcycle missing. "Denise, wouldn't..." he said to himself as he went into the house. "Dee, you here?"
Frank received no answer, so he went in search of her but found only an empty house. He tried calling her cell but it went straight to voicemail. He left her a message to call him back. He went to the living room and sat on the couch to watch some television to pass the time until she called.
Frank had been waiting for about half an hour when he heard the roar of the motorcycle come into the driveway, he looked outside, Denise got off the bike took off her helmet and walked inside to meet him at the door. It was clear he was not happy. "Oh, Honey, I'm sorry I left before you got back, I just had a sudden urge to get out and take a ride," she told him kissing him on the cheek walking past him
Denise, hold up a minute," Frank called after her.
She turned around to face him "What, Babe?" she asked him casually as if it was no big deal
"What the heck happened, Honey? You asked me to go to the store, I went, I get home and you're gone, no note, no call, no nothing. You were saying you felt sick and crying on my shoulder one minute and out riding the bike without the right clothing the next. Explain this to me, please," Frank begged seeing the warning signs he'd seen once before in their 20 year union.
"I'm sorry honey. I didn't mean to worry you I just wanted to get out, look I'm fine I was just upset earlier, don't worry," she told him.
"How about I take you to dinner?" Frank asked. "Would you like that?"
"Yeah, I'd love to," she said smiling "Just let me change real quick," she said kissing him on the lips and walking into the bedroom to change
Frank got cleaned up and called their favorite seafood restaurant. He wasn't sure what Denise was going through but he wanted to help her as much as he could. The meal was lovely and she ate well, but became withdrawn.
Frank reached across the console and grabbed her hand, she looked up at him and smiled but turned her head to look out the window "Dee are you sure your okay, you've been really quiet today," he observed.
"I don't know," Denise sighed. "I feel like I don't have control over my own body. I feel sick and tired then get this burst of energy like I did on the cycle, then I get hungry, but as soon as I eat I'm exhausted and feel sick again. I think I might need to see the doctor, this is what Claudia Joy described feeling like when she first got diagnosed with diabetes," Denise confessed.
Frank heard this and became concerned "ok we will make you a doctor's appointment when we get home," he said.
"Honey, it's past hours," Denise reminded him. "Besides, I have other plans for you when we get home and none of them involve a phone."
He looked at her and chuckled, "Okay, that's fine with me but we are calling the doctor in the morning," he said the brought her hand up to his lips kissing each finger then placing a kiss on the back of it then placed it to rest on her lap.
Frank got up first the next morning and made the appointment. He then went to wake up Denise to let her know when we would be leaving soon. "Dee, honey wake up. We have to go to the doctor so we can find out what's wrong with you," he told her.
Denise stretched and rolled over, "Oh, no. I am not having you miss a day at work to take me to the doctor," Denise said coming awake. It was a habit she'd gotten from being a nurse and a mother.
Frank sat beside her ad smoothed her hair out of her face "Yes, I am, you are not going alone."
Denise shook her head, "Frank, no. I'd rather have you when the barrage of blood tests they're going to order comes back, I can get stuck with a needle and pee in a cup by myself."
"Okay fine, I will go to work and let you do this alone, but when they get the results in i am going with you. Deal?" he asked her.
Denise leaned up and placed a kiss on Frank's lips, "Sealed with a kiss," she promised and rolled out of bed to get ready for an appointment she'd never forget.