A minute later, Kate returned with her cap shoved on her head, her eyes red. Spencer said quietly, “My car’s this way.” As much as he wanted to, he wanted to hold Kate’s hand, but regulations wouldn’t allow it unless they were out of uniform. He stuffed his left hand in his pocket, the other holding his keys which he didn’t feel like spinning on his finger. He would miss his friend and the memories and jokes they shared. But he knew things would change after he finally told Kate what John could not. And he dreaded that conversation like a root canal.
The drive was silent as a cave minus the dripping. Not even the radio was on. Spencer couldn’t remember when or why he had turned it off. He didn’t bother turning it back on. He still had weepy eyes and wasn’t in the mood for music. Somehow silence seemed fitting.
Instead of driving straight to her apartment, Spencer drove to the park nearby where he sometimes jogged on Saturday mornings. He wasn’t sure he could trust himself to be alone with Kate in their grief. Though he had always had feelings for Kate, he saw early on that Kate had eyes for John. He backed off, and tried to think of other things, but he saw her almost every day, which made life difficult. Now with John gone, he felt guilty. He just couldn’t win. He turned the engine off and put the windows half-way down. Kate, with tears still falling, hadn’t noticed Spencer had parked. He let her be, lost in his own thoughts.
John had been one of his best friends since they’d both been through basic training in San Antonio. They had stayed in touch through emails and phone calls and then found each other stationed together at Castle in California nearly eight years ago. They had both been single, had gone to college for awhile, but when things started heating up in the Middle East again, they quit school and signed up, determined to do something about the mess.
After being at Castle together, they had gotten orders that sent them in different directions, John to Eglin in Florida, and Spencer to Wright-Pat in Ohio. Though they stayed in touch, they were then reunited again at Pope. They tried to be roommates when they were on the same station, since they had the same morals and values. Well, most of the time. Spencer knew John regretted that one drunken night, but John hadn’t been informed about Sarah until she was over a year old.
Spencer had been sent to Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia a few times, but never to Iraq. It still didn’t seem real that John would never come back.
He let himself shed the tears that he could no longer hold at bay. He leaned over the steering wheel, his hands on his head. He let himself cry until he couldn’t anymore. At some point he felt Kate’s hand on his shoulder, which he ignored.
If Spencer had been in a jogging suit, he would run hard for an hour at least. He felt a pressure on his heart and in his emotions that he needed to drive out. The tension in the car along with Kate’s sniffing started to get to him. He opened the door and said, “I’ll be back.” He put on his hat and took off down the trail. He couldn’t go as fast as he felt like, wearing his stupid boots, and his hat flying off, but he ran anyway. Kate had asked, “Where are you going?” but he couldn’t answer her. Not yet.
Now things would really get complicated. As he picked up speed on the track, he thought about what he had to do now. He had to find John’s letter in his desk at home and give it to Kate. He wasn’t looking forward to it because he knew exactly what it said. Seeing his signature as a witness on the form enclosed with the letter wasn’t going to help matters. Spencer knew Kate was going to get a shock. He hoped she didn’t faint on him. She was so stubborn and self-sufficient, he wasn’t sure what she would do.
He let the wind and the rush of his half-jog, half-run ease some of the weight on his shoulders. He kept wiping the tears from his face, the wind stinging his wet eyes. He continued along the path until he had to slow his pace. The sun had been shining when he started, but now clouds were gathering. He remembered the last time it stormed. He had tried to reign himself in that day at Kate’s, trying not to have feelings for her. He knew she was stubborn but that was partly what attracted her to him. He never did find out why she was so gung-ho on being independent, but he was sure he would find out soon enough.
Especially when she found out she was going to be a mother.
Until next time,