This couldn't been happening to me. I hadn't asked for this, I didn't want this. Yet, it was. This letter, those words staring up at me, they were real. I was being called upon, called to arms. I had no other choice, I had to go.
I felt a hand, light as a feather, come to rest upon my shoulder.
"John, what's wrong?" A voice asked.
I turned around to look the person in the eye.
"Nothing." I lied. I felt horrible about it afterwards. But how was I supposed to tell my girlfriend I had to go to war?
"Don't lie to me." She said looking into my eyes and reaching for the letter.
I held it away.
"I'm not." I lied again.
"John." She grabbed my shoulders in her hands. "This isn't funny, now let me see the letter."
Once more I tried to hold it away, but she snatched it out of my hands.
It seemed like eternity as she read it, glancing up at me from time to time. By the time she was done reading she had tears streaming down her face.
"You're leaving then?" Was all she said.
"Yes." Was all I could choke out.
"Oh John," She sighed. "how could you do this?"
I grabbed her wrists in my hands.
"Carly, please, look at me." I begged.
She didn't look up.
"Listen," I said, trying a different tactic. "I don't want to leave you, ever. Though you should know, I've always dreamed of this. Maybe I'm being called to arms a little sooner than I would have liked, but I have a duty to my country. I have to go."
"You can't leave me. Not now, you can't die." She sobbed.
"Carly, I don't have a choice. I'm so sorry. I love you, so, so much." I said pulling her to me.
A few minutes later she pulled back and placed both her hands on my cheeks.
"My marine." Was all she said.
I smiled through my own tears.
"My marine." She repeated.
I closed my eyes and leaned my forehead against hers.
"Carly," I whispered so quietly I could barely make out my own words.
"John," She whispered just as quietly.
I took a deep breath.
"When I get home…if I come home…" I began.
"Don't talk like that." She pleaded. "Please, don't ever talk like that."
"Marry me." I said slowly.
I felt her eyes flutter open and I opened my own.
She looked at me before answering slowly.
"Yes, John, yes." She closed her eyes again.
It seemed like hours had passed before either of us moved.
"When do you leave?" She finally asked me.
I looked down at the letter.
"I'll help you pack." She said taking my hand and leading me up to my own room.
We spent the next several hours in silence, throwing things onto my bed.
"John," Carly said finally speaking. "we'll get through this, right?"
I pulled her into a hug.
"Promise me something."
"Anything," She breathed.
"Stay strong for me, okay?"
She pulled back and looked at me before leaning up to kiss me.
The next day at the airport I didn't want to say goodbye.
"Promise me something." She said out of the blue.
"What?" I asked her.
"Promise me that you won't forget me."
I looked at her strangely.
"I could never." I answered.
She smiled at me.
"Don't worry about anything but coming home." She ordered.
"This isn't goodbye John," She said after a while. "This is only see you later."
"Then I'll see you later."
"Not if I see you first." She smirked but it faded quickly.
"I love you, John." She said seriously.
"I love you too, Carly."
I wrapped my arms around her one more time, trying to memorize everything about her.
"You'll always be my marine."
Just like that she was gone.