-SHE WROTE A BOOK ABOUT BROTHERS-
Hey there! New Band of Brothers story- I am SO excited to write this! Don't worry; I'm still working on The Heart of a Soldier!
Please let me know what you think!
Chapter One: At First
"Whatcha working on there?" I bit down on my eraser with the sickening sweetness of his words.
I timidly looked up from my work, "Arithmetic."
He filled the glass with golden bitterness, the glass of the bottle clinking on contact, "Here, let me help you."
My fingers dug into the fabric of my dress, fear rising in my core, "It's okay… really. I'm nearly done anyway." I tried desperately to keep my words level. Standing abruptly I snatched up the white papers and my book satchel. A rough hand grasped my bruised arm.
"Let… me… help… you." His slurred words viciously warned. My loaned textbook slapped shut, the noise cracking through the filthy kitchen. I was trying to keep the house up after mama died, it was just so hard. His grip tightened as I turned to leave; I let out a familiar gasp.
"Let go of me!" I struggled, begging for his drunken hold to loosen. My professors were beginning to worry. Disregarding my pleas, his fingers began ripping my hair by the roots. In case you were wondering, this is what hell is like. My pale and bony fingers met with his scraggly cheek. His brought his hand to hold the pain, releasing me.
"Hey, where are you going, young lady? I am your father!" His voice boomed, and I stubbornly snorted.
Gathering up every ounce of courage I had left, I got inches from his shaking face, "You were my father… once. Ever since mama died, I don't even know you."
His lips quivered as he understood the low blow. I turned on my heel and began trotting up the warped floorboards leading to my bedroom. Narrowing my eyes, I bitterly answered his question, "I'm leaving. Hopefully I'll get killed in this damn war." My father opened his mouth to protest but I slipped through the doorway before his befuddled mind could work.
My room was a mess, and I knew mother would scold me for its condition. I looked up to the crumbling ceiling, "Why did you leave me?" I whispered to her up in heaven. A duffle bag lay limp on my unmade bed, rolled pairs of my father's socks beside it. Shoving them in, I then tore off my shirt. My ribs protruded profusely, the lack of father's work affecting me. Grunting, I wrapped bandages around my bust to hide the smallest trace of femininity. Satisfied, I pulled on one of my father's t-shirts. The thin cotton pocket stitched to the front was stained of Tobacco. I laced up a pair of his old steel toed boots and shoved my mass of hair under my cap.
Searching for dirt to hide my high cheekbones, I stomped over to my window. Heavy rain drops pelted the thin sheets of glass. In the sill I discovered an inch of dirt that had smuggled its way in. Slapping it against my sorry face, I looked myself up and down once more. It was time.
Struggling to get the duffle bag over my shoulder, I quietly snuck down the stairs. He was pathetically sprawled on the ancient couch, an empty booze bottle in his clutches. My eyes watched him solemnly, remembering a day when he was my favorite person in the world. After the tragic car accident that had killed mama and Billy, he would eternally blame himself. I survived with a mere broken wrist, papa had a few fractured ribs… but mama and my baby brother were forced into the ground.
Blinking my eyes shut, I didn't want to remember him this way. It wasn't the father I knew and loved. My delicate fingers wrapped around the tarnished door knob, the mist of the Oklahoma downpour meeting with my face. My stolen boots crunched against the broken shards of tinted bottles that littered our front yard. Standing back a few yards from the shack, I tried to remember when it was a beautiful home. Now the windows were broken with faded curtains waving ghostly in the wind. Roof shingles sprawled on the gray wood, some only managed to fall halfway. The patch that was once filled with bright blooming flowers was now littered with cigarette butts.
I needed to escape this, and fast. I stomped down my foot and turned to allow the force of the free world to hit me. Moments later, I practically found myself running. Four sets of feet nipped at my heels, but my blank mind failed to notice.
"Husker! Husker, no!" Johnny came limping up to grasp his canine's collar. I halted and turned to face my dearest friend.
I snatched up a long stick and threw it as far as my arms would allow. Husker heavily bounded away, leaving me to wallow in Johnny's protective questions. He stepped forward, holding me at arm's length.
His face wrinkled with a wince, "Johnny? Johnny, is your leg bother you?"
"That doesn't matter, Lottie," he adjusted his glasses, frustration lining his face. "Where are you going looking like that?"
I playfully placed my hand on my hidden hip, "It's none of your business, John Peterson."
"Yes it is, Loretta Roselle!"
I unwillingly caved in, "I'm helping with the war."
He snorted, "Yea, as a nurse or something?"
"A soldier." I turned on my heel again, cutting off of the driveway. I tore some wildflowers from the earth, bunching them into a pathetic bouquet. Where my feet had beaten so many times was a narrow trail that lead to my mother and brother's eternal resting place.
Johnny panted behind me, his crippled body forcing him to take it with an easy pace. I crumpled to the ground, sorrow overcoming me.
"Lottie- what the hell are you think-" My sobs had silenced his protest. As I rest the flowers above their sleeping heads, I felt Johnny's soft hand rub my shaking back. Johnny and I had been best friends ever since the day we met.
I was fishing by myself in a murky old pond since I had convinced mama and papa I was responsible enough to go alone. It was great fishing day, the small and wiggly trout couldn't eat my bait fast enough. Suddenly, a limping young boy sat on a rock practically two feet beside me. He too, began catching a fair amount of fish. My lower lip pouted as I saw him catch a large one.
"Hey! Why don't you go find your own spot to fish?" He ran a string through the fish's gasping mouth, and then promptly tossed it in the brown water. "I was here first!"
"How old are you?" He calmly responded.
"I am eight and three quarters."
"Well then, since I am nine years of age, I was clearly on this earth first." I remember wanting to beat him to a pulp. I couldn't understand his adult words.
Defeated, I began packing up my fishy smelling gear, "Boy, why do you limp like you do?" I knew mama would scold me for being so forward, but my naïve curiosity was eating me away.
"I was born with poor bone structure. The doctors say I will never heal," his young words were filled with sorrow. To that day, I had been Johnny's best friend. His whole life he had been teased, until our school mates got in my way. I'm telling you, I used to be filled with spirit. Even the husky boy bullies were frightened of me. Those were the days.
I pulled myself from my reminiscing trance and back into my bitter reality, "I'm leaving for you, Johnny. I know how bad you've wanted to join. I'm doing this for myself, and for you."
He tore his eyes from his second mother's grave, "Lottie, did your father give you something to drink?"
My lips curved as he tried to lighten the tense mood, "No, John boy. Not this time; I'm being serious."
"Christ, you don't have to do that. You don't deserve that," I felt him grip my shoulder.
My legs scolded me as I stood, a zinging sensation rippling through. I sucked it up though, knowing Johnny was off much worse.
"I need to get away from my father. The military is my only escape. Plus, our country needs everybody they can get."
"So, you are going as a nurse?"
I sighed, "No, I'm going as a soldier."
"This is madness, Lottie-" his words came to a stop as I gently kissed his cheek. It would possibly be the last time I would see my best friend, and I wanted it to be memorable… for both of us. Tearing up again, I hugged him firmly to hold in our emotions. Something pawed impatiently at my leg, forcing us to part.
"Goodbye to you too, Husker," I happily patted the massive head of Johnny's dog, then kissed his wet black nose. I rose again; looking from my beloved's graves to Johnny's concerned eyes.
"Write me?" I slung my pack over my shoulder.
"Of course," he squeezed my hand. "I'll keep an eye on your father as well."
I felt the awkward silence hang in the humid air, "Bye, Johnny. Never forget." We embraced once more, and I took in his unique scent. All my life Johnny's smell had comforted me in my darkest hour, and I knew it wouldn't be there in war.
I turned on her heel, and began cutting through the tall green grass. Winged grasshopper's snapped around my legs, bringing a sickening feeling in my stomach. I felt Johnny's eyes upon me and I wiped away hot tears forming in my deep brown eyes. I was on my way to a new life and there was no denying that.
Annoying sweat poured down the crease of my back as I stood impatiently in the enlistment line. A stubby man in a yellow sweater childishly picked his nose, making me dramatically roll my eyes. The guy behind me was too close for comfort and it was everything in my power not to sock him in the jaw. As the line shortened, I felt his heavy breath on my neck.
"NEXT!" Nobody stood ahead of me, so I scurried to the swiveling chair.
"Good day, mister," I tried on my man voice on for size, making the broad shouldered man on the opposite side of the desk raise his bushy eyebrows.
"Name?" Ah, fuck! I yelled to myself, not thinking of a male name earlier.
I fumbled pathetically, "Roselle, Loren Roselle." He raised his eyebrows once more, and I feared he had found me out.
"Ah, got stuck with a pansy last name I see, sonny?"
I let out a forced laugh, "Yup, those damn ancestors!" I swung my fisted arms across my torso, snapping my fingers. Hopefully this would earn me a chuckle.
The intimidating man let out a hearty laugh. YES!
"So, you have any personal preference, sonny?"
"Ah, yes… actually. I would like to be in the Airborne, sir." He leaned forward as if he had a dire secret to spill.
"Wanna be with the best I see?" His hoarse voice made me shrivel inside.
I cleared my throat," Yes, sir. I would, sir." He began scribbling down words on a sheet before him, loudly checking off boxes. I nervously wrung my hands together, my heart pounding frantically. His twisted in his seat, handing the man beside a grinding machine my papers.
He typed in five lines of information, and then slammed down the top half. With my admiring eyes wide, I watched as he thread ball covered chain through two sheets of silver.
"You will be sent to Camp Toccoa in Georgia for your training. Good luck, sonny, you're doing your country proud."
"Thank you, sir." His massive fingers crushed my frail and thin hand, making it hard not to wince. My dog tags were still hot from the weight of the pounding machine as the tall man held them out for me to take. I slipped them over my head and tucked them into my shirt to keep them quiet.
I had made it. I, a woman, had made it into the United States Airborne. And let me tell you, it was the most victorious feeling I had ever experienced.
Thank you so much for reading!