They sat in the front porch swing at her parents’ Jonesboro, Georgia house. Their three years of high school romance had raced by just as swift as the salt shaker or sugar bowl empties. Now they felt they were young adults in a crazy world of frenzied wars and fury.
“At least I’m no longer a virgin,” she said, breaking a long silence.
He tightened his embrace. He’d hated the arrival of this night. Both had been anxiously feeing its approach. Now it was here and the hurt with it.
“I’ve asked myself why you have to go a million times,” she continued.
“I’m a soldier. I have to go wherever they send me.”
“I’m afraid,” she said.
“Don’t be,” he said. “I’ll be back. I promise.”
“I don’t even know where you’re going. Where is Iraq? Next to Egypt?”
“Something like that. Just don’t worry. And you’re mine, don’t forget it. I love you.”
“Forget it? Very funny. I love you too,” she said.
He kissed her again for the hundredth time that week. A full kiss.
“This is goodbye,” he said with difficulty.
“No it isn’t. I’ll be over in the morning.”
He sighed. “Listen to me, okay? I said no. I don’t wanna see you at 5 a.m. tomorrow. It’s too hard on me.”
Tears flowed again down her face. She started to protest, but then let it go.
He got up and walked off the porch toward his old man’s Land Cruiser. He wore tight jeans and cowboy boots. She stayed in the swing. Goodbyes were unbearable she’d tell her friends later. Especially when you didn’t know if there’d ever be a hello again.