Something about your soul leaking out of a shrapnel wound that puts everything into perspective.
Try as they might, all the king’s horses, all the king’s men (Army medics, in a rescue helicopter) couldn’t put the soldier back together again. They left part of him behind, in no man’s land.
Upon arriving back home, the soldier hoped to be made whole again. He awoke to his wife of five years, (best friend of nine, his sweetheart, and reason for living.)
She stood, noticeably pregnant when he’d been gone for over a year.
“Why?” was all he could ask, from the bondage of his hospital bed.
“I was lonely.” She told the story of a neighbor’s college-age son, visiting over the holidays. One thing leads to another. (Or rather drinks and weed led to unprotected sex.) “I’m so sorry, I want to make things right.”
“Yeah, me too.” He wanted to ask why she chose to keep it. even in their backward southern state, abortion was still legal. But he knew the answer. she honestly thought he’d never come back.
That was her biggest fear; being alone, dying alone. With that in mind, the soldier bided his time.
He focused on regaining strength, improving his body and mind.
All while observing the baby. He learned the fetus was a little girl, perfect and strong.
By July fourth, his wife was nearly eight months along, and he was able to sit up on his own, with mobility in his arms and chest.
He awoke that morning and stabbed his wife in the throat, leaning over her with the entirety of his weight.
Now she was the one who asked, “why?”
He gave no reply, as he dragged the knife down her chest, splitting her ribs.
Unable to scream, she could only choke as she slowly died.
The soldier knew he needed to act fast. With careful cuts, he extracted the baby.
He held the bloody creature to his chest, giving her a moment to show signs of life before cutting the umbilical cord.
I like to think he smiled at me, the moment I opened my green eyes.
From what the investigators found, he kissed my forehead, before carrying me to the bathroom and placing my little body in the cold empty tub.
And then he returned to the bed.
He’d likely kept the fireworks in the nightstand but the room was too damaged to be certain.
The bodies of the soldier and his wife were splattered like confetti; a celebration of love, and freedom.
Now, after so many years, I’m standing over the grave of the broken soldier. I know his face, even his name. He came to me in my dreams, guiding me back to this white trash town.
He spared my life, so now I am his acolyte.
My biological dad is still alive. He dropped out of college, to work as a mechanic at a Used-car dealership.
Our family reunion is going to be… explosive.