Casualties of War


It’s a war zone out there.

“Out there?  What the hell do you mean?  It’s a freaking war zone in here?” In a bold stance leaning in slightly, elbows out fists planted on either hip.  ” Out there is one thing.  I never figured I’d  have to worry about friendly fire.  Geez,  I’d feel safer out there.  At least out there I  know to take cover.  Out there I know to expect snipers.  Out there I know it’s a battle.  I never for one moment considered that I’d be bunking down with  a cold blooded killer that would rip my heart out.”

She sighed. “I’m sorry.  I never meant”

“Never meant to hurt me? Didn’t think I’d care?  Didn’t think it would matter?”  He turned and paced  through the room, stopping at the fireplace. He stood there for a few moments staring at nothing then swiped his arm causing the pictures of their  lives together to go crashing, shattering to the floor.

How appropriate!   Shattered into a million pieces.  Destroyed.  He harrumphed as he turned away walking to the kitchen. Muffled expressions came from the room with the sound of running water.

Kevin stood at the sink, sipping the water he’d poured staring out the window.  It didn’t matter where he looked, he couldn’t see past the betrayal.  Why?  How could she?  DAMMIT!  He  grabbed his keys off of the  kitchen island, letting the door slam behind him.

Throwing his car in reverse, Kevin slammed down the shifter and  nearly hit the trash cans before speeding away.

Maryssa slumped forward, her head in her hands, crying.  She  knew before she arrived at the boathouse for that fated night that she should just  get in her car and turn around. Why she hadn’t done it she didn’t know.  At the time she couldn’t see past the haze of anger, the frustration she felt, and the sting of Kevin’s parting words to her  that afternoon.  She remembered everything of that day; every finite detail.

In the morning she had made him  lunch after they had talked about saving for a cruise.  Thinking that he’d be pleased at  her efforts she made him a roast beef and swiss sandwich, packed three of the sugar cookies she’d baked the weekend before, and added a ziploc bag of grapes and one of  baby carrots. In the top portion she put one of his sports drinks in to round it out.  When  he came out of the bedroom adjusting his tie he asked,  “What’s this?”

“I made you lunch” She had beamed.  It was the first time in over a year that she’d made the effort and she thought he’d be pleased.

” What the hell ?  I’ve got lunch with the board members today.”  He grabbed his keys and left without another word. 

When she texted him  before lunch ‘have a great lunch, can’t wait to see you tonight  honey’

He replied with ” stop texting me every freaking hour!  I’m working!”

She had been  crushed.  It was yet another slam Kevin had made.

When she   opened her laptop and got on her social media page, she saw that  her former boyfriend Andre’ was going to be doing a book signing at the  local bookstore.  She decided to go buy the book and pop in and say hi. She showered and dressed, then headed  out, anxious to catch up with  him.  It had been a while since they had talked, last she heard he was getting married.

Maryssa bought the book and took it over to the  table he had set up in the cafe’ portion.  Andre’ nearly knocked the waiter over to  get to her.  ” Oh my God! Maryssa!” He lifted her in his arms, turning  her around.  ” It’s so good to see you. How have you been?”

She blushed as he set her back down on her feet. ” OK, mostly working.”

“You look fabulous! I was just telling Sam about you. He motioned someone behind her forward.  Fully expecting the new wife she  was shocked when a  large strong hand gripped her shoulder and spun her around.

” I finally get to meet the one that got away.”  He pulled her in to a  hug and a hand shake before she could  do anything else.

Andre’  stood smiling for a second watching then said ” Alright break it up Sam.  Ten second rule.”

Sam released her from the hug, and stepped back a little sheepishly then turned and went back to what he was doing before. 

” My agent, Sam.  So, how’s life treating you?  I hear you and Kevin are an item.”

Wow, right to the gut with Andre, it’s how it always had been.  In some ways she missed his  brashness. She sat down with him to talk over iced tea while he signed his books.  It was nice to catch up with him, if there was one thing  they ever had  together it was good communication.    She sighed, if only Kevin would just talk to her like this.

She finished her tea and  hugged him.  “It was so good to see you, you don’t know how much better you’ve made my day. Thanks Andre’.  I wish you well always.”  Turning to go he put his hand on her arm.

” What would you think of meeting me for dinner at the boathouse?  It’s been  a while since we’ve gone there and I’d love to continue talking with you.”

” I don’t think . . .” She looked down at the floor avoiding his puppy dog eyes that she knew  he was giving her.

“Don’t think, just have dinner with me.  No pressure, just catching up.  OK?”  His eyes pleading with her.

She shouldn’t have looked at him. “I’ll text you and let you know.”

When Kevin came home that evening he rushed in and changed then informed her he was going to the game with Ron and Joe. Not even bothering to kiss her he just changed and left, off with the guys.  Only enough time to  comment about her pants being too tight, not noticing the new outfit,  took no notice to the  romantic table setting,  he didn’t even  notice her new haircut.  A few tears fell as she  was left with the empty apartment and  her feelings of rejection as she texted  Andre’.

It was just dinner.  At least that was the plan.

Two hours later, three  hurricanes and a moonlit walk and they’d ended up on Andre’s boat in each others arms.   It was intense passion;  the old sparks rekindled physically but nothing more.  

She had made it home and was in bed before Kevin returned, hating herself for what she’d done.

NO, she’d known better than to  even see him that night.  However she couldn’t undo what she’d done. Her attention went back to the news broadcast, the streets in a neighboring city  with dead strewn across the suburban landscape. A war had been waging for nearly two years against the invaders.  In the past few months fire fights had  edged closer and closer to their neighborhood.  It was only a matter of time.

She  moved to the shattered glass on the floor.  Carefully picking up the  larger pieces, trying to salvage what was left if anything. Fat tears rolled down her cheeks, splattering onto the glass and the wooden floor.   As she reached for  one piece of glass, she scraped her wrist over another, slicing a gash in the heel of her hand.

At first only a drop or two seemed to  well up then suddenly it was oozing down her wrist. Maryssa sat  back on her heels staring mindlessly as the blood dripped and  flowed down her wrist and forearm.   A sharp stabbing pain ripped through her left shoulder and into her chest.  It was as if everything moved in slow motion after that.  Her heartbeat pulsing in her ears, the blood flow  pounding in rhythm.  She felt drugged, couldn’t move, feeling dizzy.  She glanced down at her shirt  wondering how she’d managed to get blood on her shirt thinking she needed to go wash it up now.

Kevin came in the door to see her in a pool of blood staring blankly into space, one hand closed around shards of glass the other laid open, laying on her thigh bleeding. On her shirt a large circle of  crimson spreading to her waist.  The distinct tang of copper in the air as he rushed towards her.

“Oh dear God NO! Maryssa honey!  NO!  What did you do?”  He lifted her in his arms moving to the bathroom to wash the blood away and tend her wounds.  She was a limp rag in his arms.

Her head lolling sideways on his shoulder, smiling lazily at him before she closed them and drifted off.

“Hang in there!  Maryssa please!”  He held her close to his chest  dialing 911. Her pulse was weak, her body limp.  Kevin cried, barely audible waiting for the ambulance, his tears splashing onto her serene face as he whispered to her over and over  ” I love you.”

War rages on, casualties fall. History is told by the survivors, never knowing the full story.

Write on my friends,  in a daily habit even when you don’t feel like it.




The Grey Zone

Today  was one of those days that give parents grey hairs.

prevent hairs from turning grey

Mid-morning I got a call from the school to notify parents that the school was on lock down. Gun shots had been fired, the police called to the school.  It’s good to be informed, however it’s a rather helpless feeling.  I know that they are on lock down.  I can’t do a thing about it.

If I wanted to go pick her up from school they wouldn’t allow me access in – hence the lock down.  I turn on the tv – no report  on the incidence.  I pace, I try to stay calm, neither of which accomplishes anything  except raise my  stress level.

There are few things in this world that can set my day in a tailspin – but the potential danger to one of my children will do it.  After my concern for my daughter, then I think of the other kids, their parents, the faculty and staff and wonder if any of them are injured.  The world we live in today is  a dangerous place.  When I was a teen school was a safe place and the only concern a parent  would have would be a sports injury or if their child was skipping school.

With  tragic headlines comes an additional level of concern. I tend to be an overprotective parent anyway, this sort of thing really doesn’t help.   I’m not a helicopter mom, but I admit overprotective.  I’ve had other incidences  with  the younger daughter that have given me  grey hair.

When she was 3 months old she had a double ear infection, was critically dehydrated and they tested her for spinal meningitis.  I  was a nursing mom with sleep deprivation and postpartum blues – they had to physically remove me from the  room by force.  Two officers escorting me to an outside waiting room.  It’s not that I  was trying to create a scene – she was only 3 months old.  My baby and they were going to shove a needle in her spine.  I was already terrified for her life at the sudden  decline of her health which is why I had her in the pediatrician’s office in the first place.  It turned out no meningitis, but it netted our first stay in the hospital.   I stayed with her – except for the short time they removed me to do the spinal tap – because I was nursing at the time.

A second trip to the ER happened about 6 weeks later, this time a UTI.  Then a 3rd and a counseling of how to wipe a female child’s bottom.  Then a 4th and an ultrasound to detect a defect  that was causing the UTI’s. (urinary tract infection) I humbly sat through the  lecture of how to wipe my child even though I was pretty sure I had at least that much figured out.  When your child is sick, you’ll do anything for them, humbling myself was  nothing. Although now I think it was just ridiculous the way the nurse talked to me like I was a complete moron but  we’ll move on.

AT  10 months old she was sick again, this time  my husband and I swapped  who would take time off to stay home with her while she was sick as I’d used up all my leave on maternity.   Any day off for me was leave without pay, but my baby was sick and needed attention.  It turned out she had developed  RSV ( Respiratory syncytial virus)  something that she was exposed to at the daycare I had placed them in.  RSV is usually something that premature babies develop.  Both my kids were full term whoppers that were nearly 9 pounds each.   So there we are at the hospital again, this time she was under an  oxygen tent with an iv in her  temple.   It was at this point that I resigned my government job to care for my children.

Things went smoothly for a while then when she was in  5th grade, there was an incident with the bus.  It was time for the bus to arrive in the afternoon, I  am on the front porch heading to the bus stop when I hear screeching and a crash.  I look up to see my daughter in front of the bus getting ready to cross the road looking at the bus like it did tricks.  As I walked closer to the bus I see that there is a car  wedged under the back of the bus.   I motion her across and tell her to go inside and get my cell phone.  The 3 college students that were in the car didn’t fare well at all.  It was a  tragic day, yet Jim the bus driver held his foot on the brakes, the bus didn’t move at all and my daughter who was standing in front of the bus was safe and sound.  Don’t even tell me there are no miracles –   because THAT was a complete miracle to me and Jim is the biggest hero  that ever was!

Another time  one of those huge dump trucks came whizzing by the bus after topping the hill, and instead of  ramming the back of the bus decided to fly past.  My kids were both in front of the bus and felt the blow back as the dump truck raced by – close enough  to reach out and touch the truck. Two seconds later and they would have been flattened.  I lost it that day.  I couldn’t stop crying over  what almost happened.  I drove my kids to a different bus stop after that and half the time I drive them to the school.

In the past  4 years, I’ve had  these lock down calls.  Two of them were form  drug busts, but htis past year there have been two incidents with guns and ammo.   The phone call today  was this:  ” The school district has placed  the high school building under lock down. Gun shots were fired and the police department have been called  to assess the situation. You will be notified when the lock down has been lifted.”

Guns fired? OH, no no no no.  NO!  This  is a sick joke right?    I sit anxiously waiting to hear, preparing  for the worst.  I text my daughter. She doesn’t respond.  Never mind he fact that they are suppose to have cell phones off during class times. I need to know she’s ok.  I panic, I pace, I  scroll through Facebook.  Try to talk to online friends only to  be called stupid.  I down my coffee, get another cup.   Finally, nearly two hours later the school calls and says the lock down has been lifted that it was determined that 3 individuals were target practicing on the wooded  property adjacent to the school.  ( Yes, we live in a rural area.)

The shots weren’t actually at the school.  I can breathe again.    I break down and cry.  Relief floods over me.  These are the parenting moments that no one warns you about when you  want the cute cuddly sweet baby.  These are the heart wrenching moments that age you 10 years in 2 hours.  These are the times when you feel how truly helpless  you are.

These are the moments when you realize they are only yours for a short time anyway.  My greatest achievements have been my two wonderful girls.  Regardless of the angst, the drama, the lack of doing their chores I am so  proud of the young women they have become.

I go in the bathroom to wash my face before she arrives home. Trying to hide the puffiness of  crying in concern for her.  When she gets home  she says nothing and just goes to her room.  I want to hug her and never let her go, but I can’t.

Moms get emotional, they worry for their children, they want the best for them but at the same time understand that  they need to learn to stand on their own two feet.  I also understand that it’s probably not as big deal from her perspective as it was for mine.  GOOD!  I hope her and her friends  had a good day despite the lock down.

Life goes on as usual – THANK GOD!

She won’t know that  more grey hairs popped out in that 2 hour span.  She won’t know that 10 years of my life vanished instantly.  She doesn’t know the instant terror that something like this causes a mother.

When she came out of her room, I hug her and smile. ” Hey, wanna go for ice cream?”

I think I’ve earned it.

Write on my friends, write on! Remember there’s a remedy for the grey zone – it’s called L’Oreal.

What would you do if. . . ?

I’ve been tagged !  I don’t even remember who tagged me in this –  better late than never.

Your 11 Question’s to the theme, what would you do if… ?

Your house were on fire what would you grab 1st to rescue?    

After shoving my kids out the door or window, I would save my laptop as it contains my life.  All my pictures, my writing, basically –  my life.

You could vacation anywhere, money no object, where would you go?

Well it’s a good thing I was tagged twice so I can split this up between the two.  I would spend at least a year in the UK – including Ireland.  (Disregard political boundaries, because it’s all included on my big tour.)  Touring every castle and ruin that dots the countryside,  touring every standing monolithic site, every historical site, visiting my friends that live there. This would be a working vacation as I would be photographing and documenting everything for ideas for future writing.  There are several touristy places I’ll skip thank you as I think they are just that – tourist traps.    I have a list of about 20 must sees.  I think a year might just be enough time to fit them all in. My second destination would be somewhere tropical in the Caribbean.

Your book became #1 New York Times best seller, who would you tell 1st?

Probably my girls so we could squeal together properly!

If you could go back in time, would you change anything in your life?

Oh so many things I’d change!  I’d change my name,  I’d change the activities I was involved with.  I’d have majored in creative writing not geography /cartography.  I would have studied more and skipped class less.  I would have invested more funds, and been less frivolous.  I would have never stopped being active, or gain all the weight I did.  I would have seized more opportunities, taken more chances, taken more dares, dreamed more and never shelved any of them.   And I would deposit a huge amount of money into my bank account from an anonymous donor.

But then again, if I were to go back and change any of those things I may not be who I am today, I might not have my girls, and wouldn’t have learned the life lessons that I inherently have to learn the hard way.  I would in fact by going back in time disrupt the space/time continuum and alter my current plane of existence in ways that I can not imagine.  One little pebble causes ripples that travel a great distance, and what if one of those ripples changed the existence of my children?  Children change you.  They make you think beyond yourself, cause you to  mature in ways you  couldn’t imagine until you have them.

You won a large lottery what would be the 1st thing you would do? Book my dream vacation and consider taking someone with me.  Not a guarantee, but I am willing to consider.

You could travel in space. Would you? I don’t think I would.  There are too many places on earth I haven’t seen yet.

You could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

My body.

And for fun

  1. What’s your favorite flavor ice cream?      Bordeaux cherry chocolate – yummm.
  2. Who is your favorite musician?     Just one?  You expect me to choose just one?? Are you crazy? Ummm, currently I’d have to say  Gavin Degraw.
  3. Who is your favorite movie star?   Sean Connery
    What’s your favorite all time movie?  Excalibur
  4. What is your favorite candy? SKOR!

Now I get to tag a couple people for this fun post.

Hmmm, who shall I select?

Macie Snow

Eleasha Chidley

Dex Fernandez