I was born and bred to be the man I am today. My father and his father were both graduates from The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. Both went on to become helicopter pilots. Both had seen plenty of action. Both had met and caused devastation. Both men, who I respect more above all, had served and protected the United States and her people honorably for decades.
My best friend, William Cruz, who attended the academy with me, had flown beside me, had lived the same life as I had and shared the same ambitions in life, was gone now. This was not part of the plan. Will and I were supposed to have each other’s backs, support each other and never let anything supersede our bond.
I sat on Norfolk Beach needing to feel close to him on the anniversary of his death. It was a beautiful day in May and I was cutting class. I had done the same every year since he passed.
Jaxson Irons was only supposed to be in Pensacola for a year. But now three years later I still hadn't heard from him. I saw a man running down the beach and I knew immediately who it was.
Jaxson didn't respond the way I had dreamed he would. He told me we would catch up someday soon. I stood and watched until he was gone.
Thump, thump. I placed my hand on my chest as I felt my heart beat again for what felt like the first time in three years. Thump, thump. I felt the blood moving quickly through my body. Its heat once again present. Thump, thump. I looked up at the sky and let out a breath. A breath that I had been holding forever. Thump, thump.
I felt tears fall down my face as I raised my hands in the air and laughed out loud. Just then the clouds parted for the first time in forever. I saw the sun smiling down on me.
“Did he adore you?”
“What?” she gasped.
“The husband, the father, my head in a scrapbook. Did that guy adore you?”
“Hell yes, he did and he was nice, too. He was caring and would never have laughed at me.”
“Never?” I tickled her ribs and she laughed.
“No, not ever.”
“And Joel knows this how?”
“He found it when he was helping me unpack at my apartment.”
“You brought it with you to college? Your little girl scrap book?” I joked.
“It was my dream book and yes, I did, you big jerk.”
“Was he pissed when he opened it?”
“What do you think?”
“I think I would have shredded it.”
“Well he asked me to toss it and I told him no.”
Again I laughed and this time she did, too.
MJ lives in central New York, surrounded by family and friends. Her house is full of pets, friends, and noise ninety percent of the time, and she would have it no other way.