My mom granted me permission to read a piece of her writing at my author’s event last week. This week, my sister gives me permission to share a piece of her writing here on the blog. I come from a family of artistic, expressive souls. I hope you enjoy this dramatic piece as much as I did. If she keeps this up, I may invite her to post more regularly.
Here now, “Reach” (dedicated to those who have served, are serving, or have been lost while in service, in the military) by Monyett Ellington (2). Keep in mind, all writing posted here is copyrighted by the author and may not be reproduced or other wise tampered with, without express written permission from the author.
She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. You are supposed to feel elated, making a decision like this, one that changes your whole life, the thought burned through her, causing her stomach to flip nauseatingly. But, she didn’t, feel, elated, and her hand hesitated, holding the door handle, cold and awkward, still, in her left hand. The hand that was going to have to now be her good hand.
It was quiet around her, the lull before the breath of the house, an exhalation, would start the daily resurrection of lost souls. Souls, trying to once more return to the dream of life they thought they had had before. Life before, like she had once thought she had had. He had anchored her, through his thoughtless moment of kindness, and the book had anchored her, a countering random act of kindness from a stranger, left behind in the library, for her to find during her transition back to life. She was connected to her life in the here and now of it, not lost anymore in the dream of before. The before she lost her hand, the before she turned to see him sacrifice himself.
Joe would have appreciated the manner in which the book became a gift. He had served as their heart, the steady beat to which the team moved as one, dancing in and among the wounded ones, ministering as best they could, some sense of order within the chaos. Joe was open to living life as it came and as such, made it easy to be friends with him, when nothing else was smooth. It wasn’t until he came to her room, happily clutching an airline-sized bottle of vodka and two shot glasses in his hand, to celebrate with her, only her, the repeal of “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” that she realized she loved him, and realized that he was a gay man. He held her warm and loving, after her confessional, keeping her feeling safe and secure with his easy response and his easy words, “I love you, too.”
The day was hot, it was always hot, and dusty, and dry. She had missed the rainy season, arriving as late as she had. Late as part of a last minute scramble to deploy psychiatric services; a late response to a growing problem. She had been on her way out of the service, but when asked, agreed to an additional six months in Afghanistan, just as Joe had. They met there, in Afghanistan, committed and overwhelmed by the need to help, to finish out the last of their service helping the brave, the few, the proud. For her and Joe, this last assignment had taken them both out of their respective stateside offices and thrown them into a world as unfamiliar and dangerous as landing on the moon. It felt just as alien, and far from the life they had had before, like the blue marble of earth untouchable in the moon’s sky.
They had gone, her and Joe, out as team reps, to the area meeting, hitching rides both ways with different patrols. They said goodbye to the patrol unit members, walking the short couple of yards towards the base gate, when it all went quiet. Joe had fallen naturally into a protective position behind her. Instinctively, with no time, they both turned hearing the sound of the small rocket heading towards them, towards the patrol unit’s cougar. Joe called out, moving to shield her, and she reached out, with her good hand.