Finding Home - Chapter 3
by Siobhan Fallon, Army spouse
Val could hear Lucy making calls and she slipped deeper under the pillows of the guest bed.
She didn’t tell Lucy that she’d been filled with a murky terror for months—from the moment she and Billy signed the marriage certificate at the justice of the peace. She never doubted her love for Billy. But she also did not doubt that he had only proposed because he was deploying. And she’d readily said “yes” for the same reason.
“I want you to be taken care of,” Billy said, slipping that simple sapphire engagement ring around her finger. “In case anything happens.” In case anything happens. And now something had happened. Even though she knew it was completely irrational, Val felt like their marriage had jinxed Billy, as if he had made some kind of wager, betting his life for Val’s. Now she was panic-stricken that it was time to pay up.
Lucy had coolly taken over. Within two hours of hearing the news about the rocket attack, Lucy had tracked down the personal phone number of Billy’s company commander’s wife and called without hesitating. Val hadn’t even known that Captain Barrett had a wife. And yet even Lucy, with her barrage of military spouse savvy, couldn’t get all the details.
Yes, there had been an attack on Billy’s FOB, a dangerously precise attack. The rockets had hit the mess hall at dinnertime. A Guard spokesman told Lucy he couldn’t release any names until the family members of the wounded were notified. Lucy tried to calm Val down by saying that the longer she and Val went without hearing anything, the closer they were to being out of the woods, since chances are the rear detachment would have contacted the casualties’ families by now.
“Chances are” did not sound like a good gamble to Val. It sounded like her unsettling marriage proposal. If the Guard was still contacting families and therefore couldn’t tell Val if Billy was OK, at any moment they could call to tell her he wasn’t. In the end, Lucy seized Val’s cell phone and ordered her into the guest room to take a nap, promising she would find out something by the time her sister woke up.
Val, tossing in the bed, tried to recall her last conversation with Billy. Had he told her his daily schedule, if he was headed out on patrol? If he had the next day or two off? But she could only remember how she had scolded him for not telling her about the new ATM pin, could only remember she hung up without saying she missed him.
This was exactly the reason, all those years ago, she and Lucy had sworn not to date men in the military. Or ‘boys’, they’d called them then, Val twelve and Lucy nineteen. It had been Val’s idea, and Lucy had laughed at first, Val entering her room with her hands on her hips, saying she was “done with military boys.”
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