First published in Ascent Aspirations Magazine (2009)
Carly watched the two marines get in their car and drive away. They’d offered to sit with her for a while, but she’d said it wasn’t necessary.
She stood at the window, numb, arms crossed over her chest. No tears filled her eyes. No sobs wretched her body. She’d understood when Brad left for his first tour in Afghanistan this day might come, but still didn’t expect their marriage to end this way.
She pictured a tall, handsome man in full military dress waiting for her as she walked down the aisle. She gazed through teary eyes when the proud father kissed the foreheads of his newborn twins. She replayed the scene over and over as Brad, dressed in full military gear, strode off with his buddies, while she smiled and embraced the twins in a way to let them know their dad would be back.
Bad memories replaced good ones, and she relived how the war had changed Brad. Her face tightened as the stench of the booze reached her nostrils. She heard the accusations of infidelity for the third time, and watched his green eyes narrow. Her body tensed at the sight of his cocked fist and relaxed when he lowered it and walked away. That last time she’d screamed at him, and he’d come back. It was after her trip to the infirmary to set the broken arm that she’d made her decision.
Brad’s angry face evaporated from Carly’s mind when the school bus stopped in front of the house. She watched Sara and Sam step off amidst the laughing children. A movie of her carrying a cake with thirteen candles to the dining room table invaded her consciousness. Next week’s birthday would be different from the others Brad had missed.
She heard the twins at the front door and remembered the divorce papers on the kitchen table. She scurried to the kitchen to hide them. The children didn’t need to know the truth. Not after today’s news.