My lady’s on MP duty, that’s Military Police, policing the dangerous, dusty streets of Fallujah, Iraq. Yep, Iraq; honeymoon capital of the world. Absolutely not.
We married three days ago, said, “I do.” Kissed. Partied a little, until interrupted, as my special logistics liaison unit pulled out, in answer to an emergency and, short staffed at the present, we all left, including me, her brand, new husband; with the promise to get me back to her soon—AFTER our assignment, of course.
When we’re together there’s no fear, but apart she worries about my “secret” forays into unknown places, among the hardest of enemies. And I go mad knowing she’s on dangerous streets that make the roughest gang street in America a block party in comparison.
I get the best equipment, the best intel, the best training, and she gets a cheesy, ill-fitting safety vest, a hummer without armor, and a rifle that’s a Cracker Jack® toy prize compared to the hardcore one I carry.
We’re foreign here. And there’s sand everywhere.
I should be caressing her soft skin, not alone, oiling my weapon—no pun intended. It gets into everything, like “fine time sand, windblown from a broken hourglass.” Her mom, MY new mom-in-law said that. Well, actually, her mom said the fine sand part, and my baby added the rest.
She’s so smart. She’s so beautiful to me. I do love her. I do miss her. I do plan not to be blown or shot to bits before holding her again. Holding her forever.
Her last voicemail to me, in her bubbly voice, said she’d stay away from cafés and open markets—prime targets for a disgruntled types blowing themselves and their neighbors up, and she promised that she’d keep her toy prize close to hand and ready at all times; to protect herself and not unduly sacrifice herself, so she can hold me forever, in return.
We’re soldiers, but she’s policing, instead of full soldiering, as if that were safer for a woman. Read a history book. War’s never been safe for women, and underarming them now doesn’t help. Plus, cops policing their city streets die all over the world, let alone being a favorite target here.
I kiss her picture in the locket she gave me, then leave it behind—where I go I can’t have personal markings; like tags, photos, or even a new gold wedding ring on my finger. She wears hers though, she promised, I haven’t told her I can’t—it feels like it breaks our sacred bond, nor why—it sounds morbid and frightening. I’m not supposed to tell her, anyway; plus, I don’t know how to.
I do know how to love her, if I can just keep all my pieces still intact to get back to our honeymoon. My boss says I can, in a few days. I’m holding him to that.
My husband’s gone, right in the middle, no, the beginning of, no, BEFORE our honeymoon even started.
We serve. We’re soldiers. We do or die, and all that stuff; I believe that, but I WANT my honeymoon, with him. We’d waited for each other, and now he’s been ordered out to … I don’t know where, as I go on my own patrols, because sitting alone waiting for him is no honeymoon either.
I repeat; I don’t know where he is, or what he’s doing, or what’s being done to him, except that what he is doing is most probably dangerous. Although, I know he completely worries for me, with my “inadequate” rig, as he calls my gear, as I walk these foreign streets which are filled with a language we still don’t understand, patrolling these streets which hold all sorts of surprises on any given day.
I’d hate to die, without “knowing” him, in the biblical way. Being fully his. And even besides that, I’d hate to die, without just seeing him again, hearing his voice call my name in that cool way of his. Wait, this is a tricky and dangerous street ahead.
It was dark and hot and uncomfortable, and sand; there was sand, gritty sand even without the sandstorm, which now rages relentlessly outside. The barracks were abandoned as too public and too much on the beaten track for interruptions.
Our Location: Isolated abandoned bunker.
Meal: MRE—Meals Ready to Eat.
Champagne: Our drink of choice, repackaged as a liter of ginger ale from the States, from my industrious and devious sister. Liquor’s not allowed here. Nor pictures of women in shorts or swimsuits, let alone naked, but exploding people are everywhere.
But we’re together now, honeymooning, drowning in each other; and love, in these moments together, is all that exists.