Fiction: “Eve Sams”
Photo by Laila Jihad, 18
"You check anything?"
She doesn't ask as if she cares. Mom isn't like that. She asks and says things appropriate for the situation. And being that I just got off a plane in Daytona, asking if I checked any luggage is appropriate.
"Just my sea bag," I say as I get a one-armed half-hug from my dad. I'm surprised he's even here actually. That must mean he took at least one day off from work. Still, I don't think he'd take off three days.
Today is Wednesday, I go back home on Saturday.
My brother didn't come to the airport to greet his only sister whom he hasn't seen for six months.
He, I'm sure, insisted that he'd "rather not miss school this week." It's December, which means final exams are coming up. I'm also sure he did not actually go to school. God only knows what he's up to.
"Where's Night? Helping an old lady cross the street? Reading to pediatric cancer patients?" I don't hide the sarcasm. I want to sound bitter.
I only ask where he is for two reasons:
One, my folks and I aren't the conversational type, nor are we the emotional type. This means that in the time it took us to walk to baggage claim, wait for my bag, and exit the airport (approximately 15 minutes) we have said nothing at all.
Two, my 17-year-old brother, Nathan, is pretty much the Anti-Eve.
I graduated from high school with a 3.6 GPA three years ago; he failed phys ed.
I volunteered all through high school; Night became a "dark, mysterious punk" with an attitude problem and questionable morals.
I joined the United States Navy; he respects nobody.
My parents don't hear me, or they just don't want to admit that they have no idea where their son is, or where they went wrong raising him.
No one bothers making any sort of polite conversation, or any attempt at words at all, as we turn onto I-95. This is going to be a long ride, but I take advantage of this "quiet time" to plan when and how to tell them I'm being deployed.
Mom turns the radio on, some 'variety' music station that has a slogan about 'perfect for families' or something. Interesting she listens to a 'family appropriate' radio station. We're not much of a 'family.' Not a traditional one, anyway.
Dad's staring out the window, possibly sleeping, probably trying to forget that his only daughter is in boots and dogtags.
A nap actually doesn't sound too bad about now. I'm exhausted. I left for the airport immediately after work so that it wouldn't count against me for my leave days. I've been flying for ten hours.
I stretch my legs out across the backseat of Mom's car. I realize I have no idea what make or model it is. Come to think of it, is this a new car?
I close my eyes and try to think of any sort of way to gently inform my family of what the next phase of my life is, when suddenly my Dad says, as if he just remembered there were people in the car with him, "I didn't make the spare bed. The sheets are where they always are. You'll have to make it when we get home."
"Oh. Okay. Yeah, sure," I say, sort of astonished. My dad, whom I haven't seen since I left for boot camp, tells me that I have to make my bed, no, make the spare bed, because he forgot to.
The spare bedroom. In a three bedroom house. Night always had his own room; so did I.
Suddenly I realize why I don't feel like I'm going home, why I don't feel part of my family anymore.
Because I'm not. I'm a visitor in my own house.
As much as I hate the realization, I can't think about that now. I've got to figure out what to say.
I suppose if I just wait until dinner, I can start by talking about military life in general. Boot camp, watch, muster, all the "fun" stuff.
Then I'll just casually mention my roommate's deployment so I can judge their reactions and determine how to go about confessing my own.
And if I do it tonight, that means we can spend the next few days together as a real family. Spending time together, laughing, taking pictures, maybe going shopping. Something, anything, that a family knows how to do.
Yeah, right. I don't believe that for a second. The Sams don't do things like game night or movie night. We're more of a "fend for yourself" and "act as your own therapist" family.
When we get to the house, it's exactly how I remember it. Boring, cookie-cutter, brown brick, just like every other house on our block. Two-car garage, with no room for cars.
I sigh when I notice that what I had been hoping to expect was missing. No "welcome home" sign, no "USN" flag; my dad's car doesn't even have the magnet I sent that says "Navy Dad." Nothing has changed. Except me.
Walking through the garage to get inside I notice for the first time just how messy it is. Two work benches with clutter piled on top, an extra fridge for leftovers, and boxes. Lots of boxes. Boxes marked 'Xmas' are closer to the door so that my mom can decorate for Christmas. Maybe we can decorate the house for Christmas as a family this year, since I'm going overseas and all. Maybe, but I won't get my hopes up.
Boxes marked 'Halloween' are next to the Christmas ones. Halloween just passed, so there's no dust. The light-up pumpkin's cord is hanging out of the box. Just one box per holiday. That's how my family is. Never the over-achiever.
And then I notice new boxes, three or four moving boxes marked 'Eve' in permanent marker. All my stuff fits into three or four moving boxes.
It's almost 1700 when we walk into the house. It looks different than I remember. All of the furniture is moved around in the den. The TV that used to be in my room now faces the door and the couch. There's a new rug, new throw pillows, new couch blanket. Mom has her Christmas candles out, the Swan Creek ones I got her one year. The smell is overpowering, almost sickeningly sweet. Swan Creek's thing is that they're "clean-burning, long-lasting, and intensely fragrant." The whole house is a blend of Cinnamon Spice, Home for the Holidays, and Mistletoe Kiss. I have a headache just standing here.
The fake tree isn't up yet, although I'm not sure where it will go. The corner of the room where it normally goes now keeps a fake ficus tree. I have no idea what a fake ficus tree is doing in the house, but when I notice the fake sleeping cat lying under it, I am out of possible answers. I knew the Christmas tree would still be in the garage, though. It's only the first weekend of December. The Sams don't start Christmas until the week of.
My brother is lying on the couch watching some TV show with some guy jumping out of a window into a hug pile of boxes. I guess this is teenage entertainment.
He left all of his school stuff all over the den: backpack (empty) on the floor, dirty high-top Chucks by the door, two black hoodies thrown over the couch and the guest chair. In boot camp, he'd be doing at least 30 pushups.
At 1800 we sit down together at the dining room table for dinner, and by that I mean the 6:00 evening news is on in the living room and we are all gathered around watching. I'm trying to remember how my roommate told her family about her deployment when she went home a few weeks ago, but her situation won't really help me now. Or ever.
She told me that when she went home, for her first meal her mom made the family ziti. She made it, from scratch. My mom made me get a napkin as I carried my frozen pizza dinner to the snack tray in front of the couch. My brother and I are eating Totino's 'party pizzas,' plain cheese. It's not exactly home-cooked, but it sure as hell ain't from the galley.
I'm sitting cross-legged on the end of the couch, a white couch that my mom covers with a sheet unless 'real people' come over; I guess her family aren't 'real people.' Night is on the floor on the other end of the couch, eating off of the coffee table; his eyes have not left his cell phone in at least 6 minutes. Dad is to my right in his (new) leather recliner, an empty paper plate on the coffee table, at least a dozen microwaved buffalo wings in his belly, watching the news as if he's memorized the scripts. I notice Mom is on the complete opposite end of the living room, in her loveseat, not eating. She's reading some celebrity gossip magazine, looking briefly up at the family every once in a while. I guess some movie star cheating on his wife is far more interesting than us.
I sit here looking at my parents and my brother and feel not that I'm a stranger to them, but that we're all strangers together.
I'm trying to think of the right way to casually mention my deployment when my dad's sudden throat-clearing noise during a commercial break startles me out of my daydream.
I look at him waiting for him to say something.
"Nathan. Eve," he says, monotone, not looking away from the lawyer referral service commercial on TV.
When the commercial ends with the number repeated 3 times and he still doesn't continue, I get a little uneasy. Who does that? Introduces a speech but doesn't continue?
"Your father and I are getting divorced," I hear from across the room. I look at my mother, a wave of near-panic crashing on me.
She hasn't looked up from her magazine. Night hasn't looked away from his cell phone. Dad is still watching the news.
I look back and forth at each of them and wait for someone to say something, anything. For someone to do something, to show some sort of emotion or reaction. I can't believe no one has any response to this, that I'm apparently the only one affected by this, that no one even seems to care!
The very pregnant news lady introduces the next top story: troops are still being sent overseas.
How the hell can I expect anything from my family about my deployment if the announcement of our family's destruction yields no reaction whatsoever?
I wake up and look at my watch and see that it's a little after 10:00. Thursday. I slept in quite a bit, yet I don't feel very rested. I went to bed before anyone else last night, after what should have been our bonding over yelling the wrong answers on Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.
I'm exhausted. I was up all night, I couldn't stop thinking about my parents, my deployment, and how we're all falling apart
Everyone should be gone by now. Night leaves for school before the sun is even up, Mom leaves about an hour after him for the office where she's the secretary, and Dad leaves between the two at some point for the auto shop he works at.
Student, secretary, salesman, Sailor. The Sams.
I find this little alliteration only slightly humorous.
I think about what I'm going to do today, realizing there really isn't much to do if I'm alone anyway.
I get up and take a shower, long enough to wash my hair twice and for the water to turn cold.
Heading into the kitchen, I hear the TV on in the living room. Could my parents have left it on last night? I didn't hear it all night, so it couldn't be still on. It must be on again. But who would be home in the middle of the morning on a Thursday?
In the kitchen, evidence of last night's dinner is still on the counters. The cookie sheet from the pizzas, Dad's buffalo wings box, paper plates not in the trash. But there's also dishes overflowing in the double-basin sink, fingerprints all over the fridge, coffee still in the pot.
My stomach growls so I open the pantry and grab the first no-need-to-cook food I find. Blueberry toaster pastry without frosting. I eat it over the sink so that I don't make a mess.
"Eve? Is that you?"
So Dad did take off from work this week. Wow.
"Yeah, it's me," I say, deciding not to be sarcastic with him anymore. The way Mom announced the divorce, and the way Dad's been acting suggest that he's the dumpee. "What are you doing home? Why aren't you at work?"
I finish my breakfast and look at the living room, it's just as messy as the kitchen. Dad's in his recliner, I don't think he's gotten up all night. Mom's magazines are scattered on the coffee table, bits of food are all over where Night eats. The TV and shelves are all dusty.
"Dad, do you mind if I turn the radio on or something? This place is a mess."
He tosses me the remote to the TV and tells me that the holiday music channel is 433.
He gets up and follows me into the kitchen where I start to load the dishwasher. Putting the dishes in the little slots of wires and putting the silverware facing up into the basket, I can feel his hesitation. I give him the time he needs before he speaks, long enough for me to load the dishwasher, find the soap, fill it, and run it.
"Things have been hard since you left, Eve." His words are heavy, weighted with grief and misery.
I throw the garbage away from last night, and who knows how many nights before.
"Your brother's hardly ever home. Your mother is home even less. She comes home late every night; she doesn't call, she doesn't say where she is or where she's going." He hands me a sponge and cleaning spray from under the sink and helps me with the kitchen, putting the toaster oven away, filling the napkin holder, putting a roll of paper towels on the spinner.
Christmas songs I haven't heard since I was a child are playing, mixing with the rhythmic thump-sh-thump of the dishwasher in the background.
When we're done with the kitchen we go into the den. Dad pulls out the vacuum and I dust off the TV. I study each family picture on the TV set and on the shelves on the wall.
My first day of kindergarten in a two-picture frame with Night's first day.
Halloween when I was in 5th grade. I was a firefighter, Night was a pumpkin.
A family photo from my sophomore year. Mom and I were in white shirts and jeans, Night and Dad were in navy blue shirts and jeans. Night had braces and wouldn't smile. I had braces, the rubber bands were lime green. I smiled just for that reason.
Dad and I clean the whole house, pretty much spotless, minus the bedrooms.
I fold the load of towels I did as he unloads the dishwasher.
We work in silence, but not the awkward kind. The peaceful kind.
After all the towels are done, the dishes are clean, and the vacuum and dust rags are put away, I feel depressed. The house just feels so grim, so hollow. No one lives here anymore, they're just alive.
This dismal feeling is making me anxious and I suddenly feel the need to get out of here. My watch reads 5:34P, Dad's back in his recliner, watching the 5:30 news.
"Hey Dad, I'm gonna go for a run. I'll be back before dark, kay?"
"Alright, I'll be here. Take an opener if there's one on the bench. Close the door behind you."
"Kay. Bye, Dad!"
I hesitate at the door. "Dad?"
"I love you."
"Love you, too, Eve."
I grab the blue garage door opener as I jog out the door, feeling a little better, but not significantly. I've still got a lot to think about. It's Thursday evening, and I've only got tomorrow and Saturday morning to tell my family that I'm being deployed.
When dusk begins to set in, I run home. I've been running around the block for at least an hour, my heart is pounding, my legs are numb, my lungs are dry, and I still don't know what to do.
Dad is still the only person home when I get to the house. But when I enter the house, I see that my brother has already been here. (Backpack and one hoodie tossed on the floor in the clean den. Who does that?) He's come and gone, though, because I didn't trip on his shoes.
"Home!" I yell to my dad, who's still in the living room watching the 6:30 news. "Getting in the shower!"
I take a quick shower, put pajamas on, and go look for food. I haven't eaten since morning and I'm starving.
I throw a frozen burrito in the microwave for a minute and poke my head into the living room and see dad staring at the TV, almost like he's in a trance. The very pregnant news lady is talking about a local Girl Scout cluster's efforts to help the troops overseas.
I remember that program, it was my Gold Award project when I was in that cluster. I collected donations for my "Cookies 4 Soldiers" program from people in the community, usually the parishioners, and bought Girl Scout cookies to send to 'adopted' soldiers overseas. The younger girls helped pack the cookies and wrote thank-you cards to send with them. We'd send over 1,400 boxes of cookies every year. We always got letters back from them, thanking us for our support and all the cookies, that was my favorite part.
We had a soldier visit us once during a packing day; he thanked me many times for starting the program, saying how much it meant to everyone overseas. That moment is what made me decide to enlist. I even ended up enlisting a rank above my peers just because I earned my Gold Award.
I wonder if they'll send me Girl Scout cookies?
The microwave beeps that the minute is up.
When I'm done eating I clean up my mess, a habit from life on base that the rest of my family really should pick up.
The news is over and Dad is watching some stupid reality TV show. I sit on the couch next to him, thinking how messed up life has become.
"These guys are all chefs, and they're competing against each other. They think they're competing for their own restaurant, basically for their 'big break,' but the producers are actually lying to them. They're really only competing for entertainment purposes. It's sad, really. That these producers would put up a front like this; I mean, this show has been on for weeks. And no one knows the truth."
Dishonesty, lies, and withholding information seems to be a reoccurring theme in this family this week.
"Dad, you know I have no idea what you're talking about, right?"
"Yeah, I know. But I just thought you should know."
Someone comes home late, Dad is already asleep and has been for an hour or so. Whoever it is, Mom or Night, shuts the door to the garage, hardly trying to be quiet. I decide that now is a good time to go to bed.
As I slowly get up from the couch, I wonder if I should leave the TV on for Dad. I figure he had it on last night, he might as well have it on tonight. Maybe the canned laughter of the late-night sitcoms will ease into his dreams and give him some sort of subconscious satisfaction. The likelihood of that happening is probably not very high, but it sure does make me feel better about leaving him all alone.
The house is dark, with the exception of one or two nightlights between the living room, kitchen, and bathroom. Knowing the house is this dark, and knowing my brother's habit of leaving booby-traps with his shoes and other miscellaneous belongings everywhere, I have to move through each room like a blind person.
I smell cigarettes, that must mean Night is home.
So where is Mom?
This whole surprise divorce thing has been bothering me all day, Night has got to know what's going on. I knock on his door, feeling like a little child knocking on mommy and daddy's bedroom door in the middle of the night after having a bad dream.
"Does that mean I can come in?" I go in anyway, not waiting for a response, convinced I'm not likely to get one anyway.
Night's room is surprisingly normal. I had forgotten that we were never allowed to paint our rooms, or have more than two posters. His twin-sized bed has no frame, the sheets don't match. His room is actually relatively clean, meaning there's a pile of dirty clothes in one corner, books and binders in another, and a huge pile of Chucks of all different colors and designs are right next to the door. It smells like cigarettes and one of Mom's "intensely fragrant" vanilla candles. I almost want to gag.
He's on his laptop, and for the first time in years he looks like my kid brother. The one I used to protect from the monsters in the closet, who used to play dolls with me, who used to borrow my CD player without asking, but then say sorry when I got mad.
Before he noticed that all of his teachers had me four years before and would compare him to me. Before he became resentful that I had done so well and everyone would expect him to do just as well, if not better. Before he turned into everything I'm not, everything I never could be, to try to stand apart from his big sister's shadow, to disprove whatever preconceptions anyone could possibly have. Whatever he did worked I guess, he's been the Anti-Eve for at least four years.
He looks up at me with an apathetic face. His hair is in his eyes and I see a ring in his lip. My reminiscing is over, and reality is back. We're not kids anymore.
"What," he says again, this time annoyed.
"I don't know if I'll see you tomorrow, Nathan." I haven't called him that since he announced to the entire family at a reunion three years ago that his name is Night whether we 'effing like it or not.'
He just stares at me. I can't tell what he's thinking, if anything.
"But I'm going home on Saturday morning, early. Before dawn." Still nothing. I sigh, on the verge of" tears. "I'm I'm Nathan, I'm being deployed in a week." My heart is beating a little too fast, and my breath is uneven. "I haven't told Mom or Dad yet. And I don't know how or when I will. And I just found out about it and now the whole divorce thing and how no one in the family told me and no one in the family even had any sort of response to it and Dad said that you're never home and Mom is never home and the house is a mess and you're smoking and you're only seventeen and I don't know when I'll see any of you again or if I'll see any of you again and I'm just I'm being deployed."
I feel a little better when I'm done ranting, panting to catch my breath. I never knew how much I could say in only one deep breath. Now I know.
"Eve, I don't know what you want me to tell you. Dad didn't say anything about the divorce because Mom's breaking up with him. Mom doesn't care about us anymore, any of us. And you're gone. You don't write, you don't call, you don't e-mail. Eve, I watched the family falling to pieces when you left six months ago. I watched it all happen, Eve. I didn't want you to go to the fucking Navy. I knew there was a chance you'd get deployed. Do you think I want to lose my big sister? There's really nothing I can do, there's nothing you can do. You have to go. I have to stay. Mom and Dad" have to do whatever they have to do."
Tears are falling down my face, regardless of my fight to keep them in place. My vision is blurring, so I have no idea if my little brother, my baby brother, is crying or if he's even looking at me.
"Eve, I miss you. But what's done is done. All we can do is hope for the best."
"Thanks, Nathan. I. I miss you, too. I'm.. I'm sorry."
I can't believe, as I leave his room and go to my old room, that I'm the one apologizing to him. I just can't believe it.
I wake up late on Friday, after spending the majority of the night sobbing. Afraid of the future, mourning my family, unsure of what I should do. When I do eventually wake up, the house is entirely silent. My pillow is gross with snot and tears, and my nose is too stuffy. My eyes burn from the salty water, and before I even go into the bathroom I know my whole face is puffy.
I take a ridiculously long shower, long enough for the hot water to turn cold. I'm done before the water turns cold, but I'm not done crying.
I have no idea what time it is when I get out, I don't care to look at my watch. I brush my teeth and look in the mirror, it's obvious I was crying all night. I hope no one's home. I don't really want to explain this to anybody. My brother probably heard, but he wouldn't tell.
I would hate for my dad to know I was up all night crying, miserable, depressed.
I get dressed in PT sweats and put my dirty laundry in the machine. The coffee pot is empty, and the kitchen is still clean. I guess no one's eaten since I ate my burrito last night. I find another toaster pastry and sit in the den and eat. The digital TV box says it's 4:23, it's almost upsetting that I slept so late.
I'm not doing anything today. Night is at school, or at least out of the house. Mom is at work. Dad is at work, or at least he's not in his recliner.
The slam of the door wakes me up from a sleep I wasn't aware I had fallen into. Once my eyes adjust to the dim lighting I see the digital TV box wants it to be 4:54, who would be home now?
"Eve? What are you doing?"
It's my mother. What is she doing home now? Didn't Dad say she's never home?
"I fell asleep I guess," I say, rolling over to look at her.
Her straight brown hair is in a ponytail at the nape of her neck, as usual. She doesn't have any make up on, as usual. I think she's the only mom I've ever met who doesn't wear make up. She's in a plain white button-up blouse, there's a small hole on the collar. She walks into the kitchen and I see that she's wearing black slacks and what could be described as 'hooker boots.' If she had on a plaid red skirt I would think she wanted to be Britney Spears circa 1998.
"Did you eat anything?" Again with saying what's appropriate.
The kitchen is spotless, there's no crumbs or wrappers, no dirty dishes.
"Yeah I had a PopTart. What are you doing home, Mom?" Curiosity gets the best of me sometimes.
"I wanted to see my daughter before I went out with the girls tonight. Is that okay?"
I wonder when she started 'going out with the girls.' I also wonder who the hell 'the girls' are. My whole life I've never known my mom to have friends that my dad wasn't mutually friends with.
She goes into the bedroom and a minute or two later comes out with a new shirt on, a black v-neck "¾ sleeve shirt with red rhinestones around the neck. She's changed out of her slacks and into a dark denim skirt, long enough to just barely cover her knees.
"Yeah, that's fine. I was just resting up before I went for a run, though. I try to make a habit of running everyday." Today was not a day that I had actually planned on running, but the look of this woman in front of me really makes me want to run away.
She's putting tinted lip color on in the mirror on the wall by the fake ficus, she also has thicker lashes than fifteen minutes ago.
"Are you coming to the airport tomorrow morning?" I ask as she looks at her watch. I don't know if she thinks it's going to give her the answer or if she's making sure she's on schedule.
"I fly out of Daytona at 0600, Mom." I must admit it's pretty funny to watch her try to figure out what that translates to in civilian time, even though I thought it was pretty obvious to be 6:00 AM.
"You betcha! Hey, sweetie, listen, I gotta go. I'm driving the girls tonight. So I'll see you bright and early, okay?" She gives me a cheek-to-cheek air kiss as if we're mere acquaintances in Europe, not a mother and her daughter.
"Oh. Okay, Mom. See you tomorrow then. I love you."
She's already out the door.
'You betcha?' European air kisses? And who are these 'girls' she all of a sudden has? What about seeing her daughter? Who was that woman?
I put my sneakers on and decide to run until dark. It'll be dark in about an hour or so.
After running until the alarm on my watch went off, exactly an hour, I go home and shower.
Most of my time home has been spent running or in the shower. That's pretty damn weird if I do say so myself.
I put pajamas on and go look for another frozen meal.
Wake up, shower, do something, run, shower, eat. That hast literally been my game plan since I got here. The news is on, Dad's in his recliner, there's a slight smell of cigarettes coming from my brother's room. And Mom is still God-knows-where. I guess this is what it means to be part of the Sams family. Mundane, predictable, depressing.
My burrito pretty much explodes in the microwave, the cheese all falls off, too much sour cream, not enough salsa. Gross. I don't throw it away, though. God knows galley food was never this good, and that's certainly disturbing.
In fact, that's probably the only good thing about coming back on leave. Life on base doesn't have this painfully slow pace, the barracks isn't as upsettingly lonely, even the strangers out there aren't as distant as my family has become.
I finish eating and clean up before I get my laundry out of the dryer and pack. I fly home tomorrow, before the sun rises. Leaving behind a family that has fallen apart while I was gone. Wonderful. Leaving behind personal battlefield to go to a real battlefield. Maybe the life I'm leaving for will be easier to stomach than the one here- at least in the military I'm basically supposed to be a robot, void of all emotion. The blood and guts of being a medic I can handle, the dissolving of a family, not so much.
By the time my watch glows 11:30P I've said goodnight to my sleeping father in his leather recliner in front of the TV, stood in front of my little brother's bedroom door wondering if I should go in and say goodnight, decided against saying goodnight to a brother I should have protected, and thought of at least half a dozen possible scenarios my mother could be a part of right now (including an affair, clubbing with girls my age, and various other bizarre and utterly not-my-mother activities.)
My watch alarm goes off at 0330. I hardly slept at all. I haven't told Dad or Mom about my deployment. And when I told Night, I felt extremely guilty. I have to tell them today. No matter what. I leave for the airport in an hour. I have enough time to quick-shower, quick-brush my teeth, and grab a PopTart on the go.
I brush my teeth with my eyes closed, as if it meant I was still asleep and could delay the inevitable disaster to come. I get dressed in civies and go to the kitchen. Night is awake already, or still. Mom is awake already, or still. Dad is awake already. I guess we're all going to the airport.
Mom is drinking tea, Dad has coffee, and what the hell is my brother doing drinking a Monster before 4 in the morning?
"Are we all going to the airport?" Really all I want is to make sure everyone is there when I tell them. Night already knows, but that means I need him to somehow know to help Dad cope. Mom is on her own.
All I get is a silent nod from Mom, and a slight glance from Night.
I pretend to sleep in the car on the way to the airport. Night has his iPod on, and it's ridiculously loud. He's listening to some screamo band he tried to get me to like. For someone who's a sharp shooter, I sure do hate loud noises.
Dad's staring out the window, possibly sleeping, probably trying to forget that his only daughter is going back to the military, that his wife is officially leaving him, and that his son is apathetic to it all.
When we get to the point where no one without a boarding pass can go any further, we stand almost awkwardly. Mom looks as if she wishes she were anywhere but here. Night looks like he may actually cry, because he knows where I'm going. And Dad just looks so depressed that I can hardly even look at him.
I hug each of them individually, tell them that I love them.
Really we're just going through the motions.
I look at my watch. I don't know what time it is, I didn't actually look. I was just buying time before I make my confession.
"Take care, Eve. Please write to" he trails off, he can't even say 'write to us' anymore, there is no 'us' to write to.
"I will, Dad. I promise."
"Be good. Make your family proud, Eve." Mom is so full of it. And I know she is, because she only says what's appropriate for any situation.
"I'll miss you, Eve. Please be safe." Night actually sounds concerned. I have to hug him once more.
"You have to tell them, Eve." he whispers so that our parents can't hear.
The early-morning business travelers are appearing in their fancy suits and blazers, with their rolling suitcases and matching briefcases. I look behind me as the people pass through security. It's time for me to leave.
I know what I need to do.
"Before I go, you guys.. I know that you Well, I.. I know things aren't going so well at home. But.. I I'm being deployed In a week Overseas."
Eye contact with Dad, check.
With Mom, check.
With Night, check.
And with that, I make an about-face and walk toward the gate.
Leaving behind a dad who's losing everyone in his family.
Leaving behind a mom who doesn't want a family.
Leaving behind a brother who needs his sister in his family.
I reach in my pocket and place my dog tags over my head, not once looking back.
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