For the Families of Our Military with Thanks

I’m saluting families of the military for the next week and it occurred to me I once wrote a story from their point of view. It’s just a little story written way back in 2004, but I still like it, and that’s saying something because I almost never like something I wrote that long ago. Nine years is a long time. A lot has changed in that time. I’ve become a full-time romance novelist, for instance. But a lot of stuff has stayed the same, too.

After you read this, consider helping me salute military families in one of two ways. You can either tell me about your military hero on my Facebook page or purchase a copy of Where the Heart lies and send me a proof of purchase to michellegflye at gmail dot com, and I’ll donate my royalties to the Gold Star Wives of America.

The Protector

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

The child wakes in the dark, still night. Once, he would have cried for his mother and wanted his father to come chase the demons away. Now his parents have other things to deal with. The child tries not to add to their worries.

 

It’s hard having a parent away fighting a war. At least, that’s what his grandmother says. She comes to take care of him in the afternoons now. To keep him from being too lonely, she says. The child knows she’s lonely and worried, too. He wonders if she ever wakes, cold and sweating, from a dream of guns and noise and sand.

 

He thinks the sand might be the worst part of his dreams. It’s so sharp and bright and invading. In his dreams, it’s everywhere – in his mouth and eyes, under his clothes, encasing him in a fine armor that makes it impossible to run from the violence surrounding him. He wonders if that’s what it’s like in the desert on the other side of the world.

 

The child sits still as a pool of silvery moonlight breaks through the clouds outside and spills across his bed. Mother could chase his fears away. Mother has always been his protector, his shield, the “safe” base in a game of tag gone mad. For a moment, he believes he can run to Mother, feel her sweep him up in her arms, kiss him, and tell him there’s nothing to fear. But then the moonlight is gone behind a cloud again and he is alone in the darkness.

 

The stillness overwhelms him and he slips from his bed and pads down the hall to the kitchen, hoping one of Grandma’s cookies will rid him of the fear. He stops, surprised to see a bright streak beneath the kitchen door. He considers going back to bed, but the dark hallway is too frightening and he shoves through the door.

Father sits at the table, his head in his hands. He looks up when the door opens, then holds out his hand to the child. The child runs to Father and is picked up and cuddled on his knee. “You’re thinking about your mother,” Father says and the child nods his head against Father’s chest. “You shouldn’t worry about her, you know,” Father says.

 

The child looks up at Father. “Why are you awake, Father?” he asks.

 

Father sighs and hugs his son closer. “Because it’s daylight there and I wonder what she’s doing,” he says with a little smile. “Because it’s hard letting her go thousands of miles away.”

To fight a war. The unspoken words hang deadly in the air between father and son. Neither looks at the dangerous sparkle of truth. Instead, they pretend for a moment that Mother is thousands of miles away doing something fun. That she is safe and happy.

 

They try not to remember because Mother cannot protect them this time.

 

Saluting the Gold Star Wives: Win a Free Ebook!

I got some great news in my email last week, and surprisingly, it was about politics. (Normally, politics is about as unromantic as you can get, right?) Simple resolution 67 designating April 5, 2013 as Gold Star Wives Day was passed in the Senate on Monday. The resolution was co-sponsored by Senator Richard Burr of my own state of North Carolina. While Mr. Burr and I disagree on many key points, I was thrilled that he was involved in this. So thrilled, in fact, I’ve decided to give away up to twenty ebooks.

In honor of our nation’s Gold Star Wives, I want your stories about your military hero. Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard…whatever. Tell me about him or her on my Facebook page. I plan to give out up to 20 free e-copies of Where the Heart Lies to those who comment. And if you’re not a military spouse, you can still help me salute those who are. Just send me a proof of purchase of Where the Heart Lies and I’ll donate my royalty to the Gold Star Wives of America. Send proof of purchase to michellegflye at gmail dot com.

Why Where the Heart Lies? Simple. Alicia, the heroine of Where the Heart Lies, is a Gold Star wife.

I tried to write Alicia to be a testament to the strength and courage of military spouses. The ones who carry on with the kids and school and paying bills and keeping life as normal as possible. I’ve often looked at friends who have spouses in Afghanistan and wondered, How do they do it?

The Gold Star Wives of America was started during World War II, when war widows were plentiful. It began in the kitchens of four young widows in New York City and grew from there when Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of the commander-in-chief, joined it. There are now chapters throughout the nation, eager to support the wives of the men who gave everything to the service of our nation.

On April 5 (and every day), let’s all take a breathing moment and remember the sacrifices this nation was built on…and support those who were left behind to carry on.

Where the Heart Lies on Amazon
Where the Heart Lies on Barnes & Noble
Where the Heart Lies on Carina Press