Title: I'm Sorry

Author: Sierra Crane

Rated: PG

Summary: Feelings of a soldier as she goes off to war . . . leaving behind a loving family whose lives will never be the same because of her.

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I'm sorry . . .

Daddy, you can never have your little girl back like I promised. We'll never plant vegetables in the garden again, or tear down that old dirt pile you don't have any use for . . . I'll never sit on your lap and wrap my arms around your neck. You'll never look at me the same way. Not the innocent girl whose never had a boyfriend, who doesn't even have a car . . . a good Christian, homeschooled all her life. Now when you look at me you'll see a woman whose been to war . . . whose seen death . . . I know you worry about me, I know how much it hurts you that I'm going away. I wish I could young again, too . . .

I'm sorry . . .

Mom, your daughter didn't listen to you. How many times did you tell me not to go? How many times did you all but beg me to stay home and raise a family like you always wanted? No, you never said I'd regret it, and you always said you'd be proud no matter what . . . now it's time to face the consequences. I'm all grown up now, but I don't feel like it. I feel like I should be curled up in your lap, holding onto you like I did when I was still little, feeling so safe and secure. What if I never see you again? Could you handle the pain?

I'm sorry . . .

Little Sister, we've been friends ever since the day you came into this world. I've always been your Protector, the one who stood up for you when the world was being cruel; and whenever I needed you, you were there. I swore I'd always be there around when you were in trouble, I would always guard you, and now I am, on a much larger level. I know you don't want our times together to end, neither do I . . . damn it, what right do I have to take away the rest of your teenage years by making you worry about a sister far away? You deserve to be happy. To live without fear. How can I ask you to make this sacrifice, too?

I'm sorry . . .

Little Brother, you won't remember me very well by the time I come home a year from now. Time can take away so much from a young mind---even one as a smart as yours! All that knowledge you've been yearning for, I want to make sure you have the opportunity to learn as much as you want when you grow older. To go to college . . . cure AIDS if you want to! You're who I'm fighting for . . .

I'm sorry . . .

"Don't apologize, Honey," Mom whispered, holding me tightly. "We're so proud of you, remember that." I squeezed my eyes shut to fight back the tears, knowing there was no way I could hold them in.

"You're doing a great thing," Dad said, "and we'll be here when you get back, waiting for you."

"I-I know," I stammered, pulling away.

"You'll be okay," Mom assured me.

I turned to my younger sister, standing there hugging herself and fighting back her own tears as the breeze gently blew her long, dark hair into her face. She brushed it away quickly, and I managed to say: "It'll be okay. I won't change, I promise."

"Yeah . . . "

I hugged her and felt my heart breaking as she let out a small sob, crying for the innocence we had lost in the blink of an eye when the call came that fateful night; we weren't children anymore, there would be no playing Barbies in our room and football in the backyard again. And it was my fault.

"Don't worry about us," Dad said, "we'll get through it. We all will."

It was time to go.

I positioned my beret and picked up my bag, taking a deep breath and making my way to the cargo plane with the rest of my unit; I handed my bag to the specialist at the door and paused, looking back . . .

Dad stood tall and proud in his gray cowboy hat and blazer, one arm around Mom's shoulders as she smiled bravely and waved me away. My brother watched without really understanding, but somehow he knew that everything was changing. My sister raised her chin slightly and maanged to raise her hand and give me that Vulcan salute us nerdy Trekkies had always exchanged . . .

No regrets, only honor . . .

Our theme ever since the day I enlisted.

Without a word, I gave them a salute, then turned and walked into the plane till they disappeared from my sight. Settling down in one of the seats, I leaned against the window and closed my eyes, unable to look out and try to gaze at them for just a few more moments.

"It'll be all right, Private---" the voice belonged to my Staff Sergeant.

"I'll be back . . . " I murmured.

Dedicated to the Black Knights

of

Det. 1, Co. B, Forward Support Battalion

Scranton, PA.

"Where Others Leave Off . . . We Make it Happen!"

I don't know what you're doin'

And I don't know where you are

But I look up at that great big sky

And I hope you're wishin' on that same

Bright star

I wonder, I pray . . .

And I sleep alone

I cry alone

And it's so hard livin' here on my own

So please, come home soon

(Come home soon)

I know that we're together

Even though we're far apart

And I'll wear our lucky penny 'round my neck

Pressed to my heart

I wonder, I pray . . .

I still imagine your touch

It's beautiful missing something that much

But sometimes love needs a fighting chance

So I'll wait my turn until it's our turn to dance

I wonder, I pray . . .

I walk alone

I try alone

I'll wait for you, don't want to die alone

So please, come home soon

Come home soon
Come home soon . . .