Feel free to let me know what you think of my story. I hope I am using the advice I am getting from the many helpful writers at Harlequin to improve my writing. I am having a blast with these challenges. I am finding the biggest challenge is finding time to sit at the computer. If you look at the clock you will know when I have time to do that! Enjoy!
Missing in Action
997 words by KarLynn Erickson
As Lexi sat on the park bench, her hands clenched at her sides, she tried to let the anger and frustration pass. The counselor had told her the stages of grief were normal and everyone arrived at them differently, but that she should let them happen naturally.
Before she knew it her hands slid to her abdomen unconsciously and squeezed her eyes shut. Jacob always said they should wait, that it wasn’t the right time. Now she suspected there would never be a time.
Lexi grew more sullen as the thought of those surprise homecomings she saw online and on television entered her mind. She knew with all certainty that her and Jax would never get that moment.
When uniformed officers crossed your threshold, it was never good news. Jacob had promised he wasn’t going to sign up again and then he did it. For some reason his need to be a soldier was greater than her desire to live a normal life, as a family.
It was true in her vows she promised to honor him, but that seemed a lifetime ago. They had been madly in love at the time of their wedding. Then when Jax came along Lexi knew she was meant to be a mother. Nothing felt more right and she wanted more.
But Jacob couldn’t get enough of military life. When he came back from Iraq the first time he told her he wanted to go back.
His third tour of duty in their short six year marriage and now no one knew where he was. Not even the United States Army in all their glory. She knew that it wasn’t their fault, however she had no one else to blame at the current moment.
She couldn’t believe he’d done it, he left them, again. He told her not to worry. He would be home in no time. Now she was so angry with him for destroying the life they had planned she couldn’t see straight.
“Hey there, I thought I might find you here.” A voice broke Lexi from her angry trance.
“Hey, Jules.” Lexi said without the need to look up. She would know that voice anywhere and welcomed it more than sunshine.
Jules had been the one saving grace in Lexi’s crumbling life. Jules knew what to say to bring Lexi out of the depressed state that had become her current existence.
“How’d you know where I’d be?” Lexi had grown accustomed people checking in on her in the last few weeks, but the only one who brought relief was Jules.
“Oh you know, spies, cameras and I’ve been tailing you for days.” Jules smart reply came quick and easy.
They both laughed lightly, but Lexi had to force it. Jules took a seat beside her hurting best friend.
“Can you two come over for dinner tonight? John polished up the grill and can’t wait to show off his mad skills, those are his words not mine.”
“Well, I’m not sure.” Lexi ‘s reply as weak.
“He will be so disappointed if you don’t. He even bought Jax a little chef’s hat to match his.” Jules pleaded. Her need to keep her friend above drowning level was deeper than anything she had felt in her life. Lexi knew this and loved her all the more for it.
Lexi scolded herself, “How could she deny her son’s happiness to hang out in her own hollow existence. She couldn’t of course.”
“You fight dirty lady!” Lexi said with a small closed fist to Jules shoulder.
On the drive to Jules and John’s house Lexi was distracted. But what else was new. She tried to concentrate on the road, but the sky seemed so bright.
“Mommy look!” Jax squealed.
She chanced a glance back at her five year old pride and joy snuggly buckled behind her. He was wiggling with excitement. He was also smiling from ear to ear. He was always smiling. A trait he inherited from his father. A pang of sorrow hit her in the gut.
“What honey?” She asked forcing some cheer into her voice.
“Did you see that shooting star, huh mommy, did you see it flash across the sky. I get to make a wish now right?” Jax said.
“That’s right honey. How did you know that?”
“Meme told me all about the stars. She knows a lot about stars, mommy. She even told me about how the stars make pictures in the sky. I can find the big and little dibber. Do you know where they are mommy?”
Jax was so excited Lexi didn’t dare dampen the mood by correcting him.
She smiled at the reference to her mother in law. Jacob’s mother had been Meme since Jax learned to speak. Loraine tried over and over to get the child to call her Grandma, but he refused. She was Meme. The boy knew what he wanted and that was that. Another trait he inherited from his father.
“Ok mommy, I made my wish! Can you guess what it is?”
“Um, how about a new pony?” Lexi tried to keep her tone light for Jax’s sake.
“No! Guess again.”
“Let’s see, how about a monster truck?”
“No mommy, I don’t want any of those things.”
“Well then what did you wish for?” Lexi asked as they pulled into Jules driveway.
“Maybe I won’t tell you. Do you think it’s true if you tell a wish it won’t come true?” Jax asked with much concern.
“I don’t think that’s true honey. If you really believe then all your wishes will come true.” She sounded convincing, but she didn’t really believe it herself.
She stood unbuckling his car seat belt when he pulled her close.
“I wish for daddy to come home to us really soon. Mommy do you think that star can do that?”
Lexi felt like she was socked in the gut. Suddenly all of the air was gone and she couldn’t breath.