Dear Maggie,

I try not to think about the people I have left behind. You’d probably have a fit if he saw me now, thinking about you in this way. But it’s hard. It’ been hard ever since I left home. I just wanted to get away. I just wanted to get away from the pain…

But I guess you can never truly escape it, huh. I guess it follows you around for the rest of your life. You can never hide from it. You can’t outrun it. You can’t do anything because it is and always will be more powerful than you.

I wish someone would have told me that before I met you. It would have been nice to know before I gave you that tip. I would have been nice for you to just walk away instead of giving me that glowing smile. It would have been nice for me to just end it there.

Yet I had to come back. I don’t know why I came back. My body just gravitated towards that coffee shop. What was it called again? I believe it was La Speranza but correct me if I’m wrong.

You were my waitress again. Did you do that on purpose? Was it fate? I still don’t know. But there you were with that messy bun and yellow sun dress. It fit you perfectly, the wrapping to an amazing gift.

I got the coffee that was way too dark. And you laughed. You just laughed at me. But the amazing thing was that it didn’t hurt.

When my ex laughed at me it hurt so much. She laughed until her sides burned. She laughed until there were tears brimming in her eyes. She laughed until there were tears in mine as well.

But you, your laugh was different. It didn’t hurt. It felt…refreshing. It felt warm, delightful, extravagant, amazing, wonderful, beautiful. I know this won’t make any sense but it felt like love.

So I asked you to dinner. You blushed. I guess you thought it was a date. So did I. You grabbed one of those old brown napkins and jotted down your number in the neatest quick written handwriting I had ever seen. And then you were gone.

Three hours later my hands shook as I dialed your number. It rang for what seemed like eternities. And then you came. Maggie do you realize that you sound like an angel? I couldn’t believe how wonderful you sounded when it was just you. There were no bustling workers in the background, no clanking of metal, no shattering of glass. Just you.

“Meet me at St. Peter’s Lo.”

That was a new one I thought. But then again I haven’t been here very long.

So, I grabbed my wallet filled with my one dollar bills and headed out the door.

The cold air felt like a hard slap to the face. It was nothing like the hot air in Iran or Iraq or wherever the hell I used to be. It was so different.

By the time I had arrived I had lost all feeling in my thumb. I swear to this day it was blue, even though you wouldn’t believe me.

You were there first. I felt so embarrassed. No I realize that’s probably why you were giggling as I sat down. I probably looked like a ripe tomato.

But you still talked to me. That was the best feeling. You talked to me and it felt amazing. I’m pretty sure you talked about everything. Yes, I’m sure of it because you barely touched you food.

The shop owner lightly tapped you on the shoulder. As you looked up, you blushed, noticing that the shop was closing. I couldn’t help but laugh; the feeling was now a shareable one.

Have you ever felt such a rush of just…emotion? I certainly hadn’t. No, not even when I lost Danny.

Do you remember Danny? He was a subject at many of our dinner dates. He was with me over in the Middle East, fighting that war. He was the best person to have by your side. He could calm you down but get you revved up for a fight at the same time. He was my best friend. And at times he felt like more than a best friend.

You just nodded and listened to me silently. Even as people gave me dirty looks you still kept your gaze straight on me, not wavering even a little bit. When I felt the salty tears fall on the table I didn’t feel like less of a man for crying in front of you.

And then you took my hands and smiled. You told me it would be ok.

At that moment I couldn’t contain it anymore. I let the flood gates open. The tears fell all over the table, making a horrid mess.

“I miss him so much. I-I-”

I must have sounded like an idiot. I felt like an idiot. I had lost the only thing that mattered to me and for what? Some stupid war? We weren’t even fighting an enemy over there. We were just fighting people.

I felt some arms snake around me. They were long and slender and warm. They were yours.

I cried more. You just buried you head into my neck and rocked me back and forth.

If I had seen myself I would have been ashamed. A solider crying like a baby in the seat of a restaurant having a woman try to calm him down. How absurd.

Yet you didn’t say anything. You just kept rocking me, letting my pain seep into you.

“Let it go,” you whispered, “It’s alright.”

The tears eventually stopped though I was still bawling on the inside. I hiccupped and looked at you, my eyes still bloodshot red.

The smile, that beautiful, wonderful smile. It was still there. And it was so contagious that I couldn’t help but smile too.

A smile between two friends soon became a laugh shared between to lovers and then a kiss shared between a husband and wife.

Could you believe it? A wedding! I certainly couldn’t. Maybe that’s why I felt a little nauseated on our wedding day. Could you tell? Did I look really sick?

Either way it happened. The white car pulled up and I guided you in. As soon as I followed you pulled me close and hugged me.

It was strange; I thought it was a kiss. I still hugged back though. Being by you gave me pleasure enough.

Months of a happy marriage went by. We moved to a new city, get a new house, found new jobs; it was all that I could ask for.

“Honey!” You yelled at me from the top of the stairs. “Honey come here now!”

The tone of your voice threw me off. Was something wrong? I rushed up the stairs, yelling your name as I did so.

I saw you clutching something, something small and pink. Tears were pricking at the corner of your eyes.

Automatically I thought someone had hurt you. That’s always my first instinct, to protect the ones I love. But you flipped the item towards me I knew that wasn’t the case.

I remember soon after that people were calling up the house like crazy. They kept asking me questions I had no idea how to answer.

“Why so soon?”

“How long has it been?”

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

“Do you have your hospital planned out?”

“Did you know triplets run in our family?”

You just sat on our sofa, laughing at my panicked facial expressions.

Eventually the calls stopped and I plopped down next to you, burying my head in the soft cushions. You reached out to me and ruffled my hair, commenting on how you hoped the baby had my light brown color.

I slowly sat up, noting that I wanted the baby to have you dark mocha skin. You just smiled.

“But what I want most of all,” I stated, “Is for him or her to have that gorgeous smile of yours.”

Ah, that blush. I could never grow tired of it. It may have been only lightly at the tip of your ears but it was still enough to inform me of your embarrassment. I will admit, it was quite cute as well.

And so the baby frenzy started. Our home was soon filled with baby name books, how to’s, diapers, and much, much more.

It only got worse when you found out we were having a boy. We decided to name him John. I still don’t know who picked that name but you were extremely proud of it and talked about him by name whenever you could.

“John really likes this soccer game.”

“John likes it when you rub here.”

“Well crap, John doesn’t like Chinese food.”

It felt like you were talking to John more than anyone in the whole world. It was adorable and nice to see that happiness between the random mood plunges and bursts of anger. Yes, it was nice indeed.

Until they day you woke up screaming. It sounded like the sirens that used to warn us of bomb threats back in the war.

Quickly, I helped you up and into the car.

Maggie do you remember? You wouldn’t stop screaming and crying. Whatever I did to try and calm you down only made it worse. So I shut up. The howls echoed throughout the car like a lost animal calling for its mother.

I had to carry you into the hospital. You claimed the pain was too much for you to walk.

The emergency personnel took you from my arms and swiftly made their way into a room painted in white and covered in metal utensils. I was left in the dust.

Hours went by even though it felt like days. Finally a doctor appeared out of the room, his expression covered up by his mask and dark thick-rimmed glasses.

“Are you Mr. Looe?”

I nodded.

“We put your wife under for the moment being. We ran some tests on her. She should be ok.”

A gush of air escaped my lips in relief.

“But the baby,” he started, “The baby I another story…”

He explained through a long winded process that the baby was a threat to your life. He said that they could take the baby out and your survival was almost guaranteed. Keeping the baby in gave him a high chance of life but yours had dropped down to about 15%.

Then the option came; keep the baby or have an abortion.

You know what I chose.

I don’t have any more ways to say I’m sorry. I don’t know how many more times I could say it to make you believe. You can’t keep up a game forever.

Maggie in all honesty how much do you hate me? Please don’t answer like you used too, with a glare and a turn of your heel. Please at least say the obvious so I know for sure.

I know you hate me as much as you used to love me, maybe even more, but please don’t take that out on yourself. For God’s sake Maggie don’t end your life!

And yes I remember. You had tied the noose so tight around your neck it was purple. Your handwritten note was covered with tear stains. You said this is how John felt.

But how would he have felt if he had grown up without a mother. If it was just me? Don’t give me that I would remarry crap because you know for sure that I never would. I love you too much.

I still love you. I don’t care what you or my mother or your father or what anyone says. I’m not going to let you become another Danny.

So as I sit here on these railroad tracks in Montana writing this note, I want to say that I love you with all of my heart. I’m not losing you, Maggie Looe. Not today or tomorrow or ever. I will come back for you. And this time I’ll keep fighting.

 Samuel Looe

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