Fictionpress decided to mess up and not let me edit any documents in the Doc Manager, so this is the first chance I've had to edit this chapter. No new events transpire in this chapter, it's just a different perspective on the same night.
Again, thanks to my beta for helping me edit the mistakes from the first draft.
His heart starts pounding faster as he pulls to a stop at the curb. He does not want to do this, but he knows that he has to, if only to protect her from further heartbreak.
When he registered for the draft, only because it is mandated by the government when he turned 18 last year, the last thing he expected was to actually be picked, especially since there seemed to be no need for his service. He had registered and placed it in the back of his mind, going on with his life and believing that his name would never be needed.
A few weeks ago he received a letter in the mail informing him that he has been selected to go overseas as part of the draft. Details were not provided at the time, but he was instantly hit with the fact that he would be leaving behind everything—his family, his life, his girlfriend—to go to a foreign place and fight for his country. While part of him feels that it is an honor, another part of him wishes he was never chosen, that he can stay and live a normal life.
He turns off the car and gets out before he can change his mind. As he shuts the door, his mind flashes to the thought of the ring hidden in his glove compartment. He has had the ring for almost a month now, trying to gather the courage to ask her for her hand and find the right moment to do so. They are young, but he knows that he will never find another girl like her. He also knows now that he could never ask her to wait for him when he was going to a place that might not be merciful and let him come back to her. He can only imagine the heartache that he would feel if she was to suddenly die, and does not want to cause her the same feelings if he doesn't make it out of this war alive.
Taking a deep breath to calm his rapid heart beat, he walks up to her door. There is a small glow in the window, telling him that she is in the living room. Feeling his hands become sweaty from nerves, he reaches out and rings the doorbell. He steps back nervously and sticks his hands in his pockets as he looks out toward the lawn. The swing swaying from the branches of the large tree causes his heart to clench as he remembers the times he spent with her on it, laughing and holding her as they watched numerous sunsets. This is where he was going to propose to her before the letter came.
He does not realize that the front door has opened until he hears her voice say "hey" softly. He turns to her and can tell that she is already suspicious. He cannot blame her though. He has purposefully been avoiding her the past 2 weeks, trying to figure out what to do. "Do you want to come in?" she asks. He can do nothing but nod and step into the house. His emotions start to rage again and he hesitates, not sure what he is supposed to do since he has not come here to spend time with her. His mind is set on doing this fast, but a part of him wants to linger, stay with her as long as possible. He shakes his head to clear his thoughts, only to realize that she is standing in the doorway to the living room, staring at him with a perplexed expression on her face. "Is something wrong?"
Her words register as muddled, his thoughts still causing havoc inside of his mind and distracting him. "Hmm?" he answers as he shakes his head again, this time determined to quiet the voice inside his head. "Oh, uh…yeah, I'm fine."
He watches as a flash of suspicion goes across her face before she conceals it. "Drink?" She looks as if she wants to say something more, but she has become a master at hiding her emotions and knows when to hold things back.
He swallows nervously before he can manage to let the word "sure" escape. His throat is starting to close up from nerves, the fact that he cannot back out sinks in with each passing minute.
She nods and he can tell that she has to force the small smile that graces her lips before she walks past him into the kitchen. She is standing on her tiptoes reaching into the cupboard when she asks, "Do you want your usual?"
The last thing I need is something to make it even harder to talk, he thinks as he walks to the counter behind her back. "No thanks, just water," he decides.
He is mentally preparing for how he wants to start the dreaded conversation when a half-full glass appears in his line of vision. In an effort to soothe his suddenly scratchy throat he drinks the tasteless water as fast as he can manage. When he tips the glass again only to realize that it is empty, he stares at the bottom. His mind races through a hundred different scenarios, a hundred different outcomes, but they all seem to end the same way: a deep hurt that will never diminish. I just have to do it. This is what's best for her. She can't be hurt if something happens to me.
Suddenly her voice comes through the silence and pulls him back to the present. "Do you want to sit down?" Her voice is quiet, her eyes full of questions that he does not have the strength to answer. He shakes his slowly and takes a deep breath, getting a hold on the emotions that are currently trying to fight their way out of his grasp. If he breaks down in front of her, everything will be lost and he will not be able to finish what he needs to. "Josh, you're scaring me."
He places his cup down on the counter as he takes another deep breath. He can tell by her voice that she is confused and terrified of what he has to say. Knowing this is the last time he will see her for a while, possibly forever, he walks to her and pulls her into an embrace that speaks volumes. It feels like it has before, her body small within his arms, her head resting against his chest, no words to be spoken, but he knows that this cannot last forever.
Everything comes to an end eventually. This just hurts more than most, he thinks as he begins to pull away. Her head lifts up and he cannot resist as he leans down and places a gentle kiss on her cheek. Maybe she will understand some day, but for now this is what he can give her without losing all resolve he managed to gather before coming inside. Her eyes open, watery and sad, and it does not surprise him to see within them that she knows what is happening. Tears begin to fight his hold again as he releases her completely and looks at the floor. What can I tell her now? When he looks back up he can see her resolve breaking as she starts to turn away. Something within him forces him to reach out and grab her hand, stopping her before she runs off and he cannot follow her.
Tears are on the verge of spilling when she raises her head. "Why?" she asks. Her voice is breaking, filled with pain and confusion and he wants nothing more than to grab her again and tell her everything, just to make her understand, but that would make things worse if he does survive. Make her forget you, rings through his head, and he can't help but accept it, because it is the only thing that makes any sense right now. If she forgets you, she can't be hurt later on.
His breath hitches as tears threaten even harder to fall. "I don't fit into your world anymore."
"What? Yes you do. You…"
He has to cut her off before she threatens what little hold he has on his emotions further. "No, I don't. We're going down different paths and…..I can't follow you. I'm sorry." You'll never know how truly sorry I am. With a slowly crumbling resolve, he walks to the door. Just as he is reaching for the door knob he feels her hand grab his, a surprisingly strong grip considering that they are both fighting tears. "You don't want to do this. I can tell." Her voice is weak compared to usual, but the power behind it stuns him momentarily.
He forces a straight face as he answers, "But I have to."
Her voice is even smaller than before when she asks, "Can we stay in touch?"
It takes all of his remaining strength to say "No" as his head shakes unconsciously. Knowing this is over, he reaches for the door again, this time succeeding as he opens it and walks out. He closes the door as softly as he can manage without looking at it, and walks as fast as he can to his car. The keys fumble in his shaking hands for a few seconds before he can manage to grab the right one and unlock the car. Almost theatrically he throws himself into the vehicle and slams the car door shut. A few tears break loose of his hold on them as he places the key in the ignition. His head is racing, his heart is pounding, and he knows that if he pauses for even a second, everything will crash around him and he will not be able to pull away.
With a determination he has never had before, he pulls away from the curb and his chance at happiness, hoping that someday this will all make sense and not seem so cruel.
And that's a wrap. I really just wanted to write a one-shot where 2 people break up, but a friend proposed the idea that he is going to be a soldier and POOF! here came this piece. I'm not sure if this is actually what happens, but I can imagine that it is a possible scenario. They go through a lot to protect this country and it can't be easy on anyone directly involved.
Hope you enjoyed, or at least appreciated, this story. Drop a line, tell me how you feel.