Spencer Grieves and Worries

Previously on HFN: Kate Loses It

Spencer was in trouble. Big time. He swiped tears from his cheeks and thought about John never coming home, never telling Kate what had held him back. He and John would never tease each other again, never provoke each other on the running field or catch a movie together.

Spencer sighed as he thought about what would happen now. It felt like cinder blocks anchored his insides, leaving him with a heavy sickening feeling. He tried to comfort Kate, hugging and crying with her. Coworkers from the building were coming out in pairs now that the news was out about John. He felt pats on his back and shoulders. But they weren’t going to help.

Spencer prayed for the days and months ahead and for the reaction from Kate when she got John’s letter. Spencer regretted not pushing John harder to tell Kate his secret. But there was nothing he could do now, but push forward, for better or for worse.

****

Next time, Friends Grieve With Kate and Spencer

Until then,

Michelle

 

 

 

 

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Kate Loses It

Previously on HFN, Kate Gets Bad News

Kate felt pressure on her arm and glanced to see that it was from Spencer’s hand before she said, “Oh, my God,” and ran out of Sergeant Thompson’s office.

She heard footsteps running after her but she didn’t stop. She ran out of the building through a side door, pushing the door so hard it hit the building. She stopped near the flower bed outside the door. She fell onto the bench and sobbed. With her hands she pulled at her hair, nearly pulling it out of her scalp. This can’t be. He can’t be dead. She felt a hand on her back and then a body plop next to her. She didn’t bother to look, she didn’t care who it was. She heard voices and then somebody said, “Leave them be.”

“Are you a damsel in distress?” Spencer asked quietly.

At first Kate didn’t comprehend his words, for her ears only. They sounded foreign and she wasn’t sure she heard him right. After a few seconds, it registered what he said and she understood what he meant. She looked up, first with a look of horror and then one of bewilderment crossed her face.   She made the mistake of looking at Spencer’s crushed features and just as she started to answer, “I don’t know,” Spencer pulled her into his arms.

“I’m so sorry, Kate,” he sobbed.

She broke down again, grateful for his arms around her. She couldn’t keep herself together. Not this time. She gave in, letting the tears flow, not caring whether they soaked his uniform. To heck with protocol, she thought. This was war, and she didn’t give a flip about regulations. Maybe she never did, and it was all a façade, a front to keep her strong in appearance only.

Maybe Spencer had been right back when he said Kate didn’t have to keep it all together. Life was rough on a good day most of the time. The coming and going, training, moving, and making and losing friends could all get a person down after a while.

She continued to cry, not caring who saw or heard her. She had a right to break down. She cried harder when she realized she didn’t get to say goodbye to John. The last time she and John skyped each other, they talked about mundane things, nothing important.

****

Next time, Spencer Grieves and Worries

Until then,

Michelle

Kate Gets Bad News at Work

Previously on HFN: Kate Returns to U.S.

The following Wednesday, Kate drove to the base with her TDY paperwork so she could turn in it and get the ball rolling on her reimbursement. After that she drove over to the Security Forces building for her first day back to work. She walked into the building, expecting much more noise. The closer she got to her cube, the quieter the hallways were. There was still activity of course, but it took on an eery atmosphere and made the hairs on her neck stand up. She didn’t hear a lot of conversation or machines beeping or keyboards clacking. Many of the cubes were empty which was strange.  The people she did see gave her guilty looks or looked away.

Either there was an emergency she hadn’t heard about, there was an unscheduled exercise, or something bad happened. Kate slowly reached her cube which was empty. She put her purse in her drawer, locked it and tossed her hat on the desk, giving her hair a quick brush with her fingers. She wondered where everyone was. She walked down the hall to Sergeant Thompson’s office. She heard muted tones as she got closer. Spencer, Kelly, Scott, and others were standing around his desk, listening to Sergeant Thompson.

Kate stopped at the doorway, saw the huddle and started to back away, not knowing what the meeting was about. Sergeant Thompson noticed her movement and said, “Kate, I’m afraid you need to hear this too.”   His voice sounded weak to her and it was then that the clouds hanging over her let loose and the dam broke. Sergeant Thompson was still speaking, but Kate’s brain stopped listening after she heard him say, “I’m afraid that John was one of the men killed while on patrol in Iraq.”

****

Next time on HFN: Kate Loses It

Until then,

Michelle

Kate Returns to U.S.

Previously on HFN: Kate Deploys

Two months later Kate picked up a newspaper at the Chicago airport before getting her connection to St. Louis. She hadn’t kept up too much on the world news lately. She found her seat next to a middle-aged woman who played an electronic bingo game. Kate glanced through the paper, scanning headlines before she decided to read the first section. On the front page was a story about the latest roadside bombings in Iraq. Kate felt a chill snake down her spine. She shivered as if she felt a breeze flow around her.

Her seatmate commented, “These planes are always chilly, aren’t they?”

Kate didn’t realize her seatmate had paid any attention to her shiver. “Uh, yes they are.” She readjusted in the too-tight plane seat and looked around. Nobody seemed to be alarmed or worried about anything. It was just nerves she told herself.

The flight was nothing to write home about and after she retrieved her bags, she hailed a taxi to get from the St. Louis airport to home. Spencer had emailed her an offer to pick her up, but she didn’t want to trouble him. Besides, she needed some time to readjust to the time change and didn’t feel like talking right now. She would pick up Buttons first thing in the morning.

The next morning right after a late breakfast from the nearby cafe, Kate drove to the kennel. Buttons was beside himself as usual. She didn’t know if dogs had memories or not, but he certainly was always excited when Kate got back from a trip. They drove to the commissary next to restock her fridge, Buttons going crazy when she left him behind in the car. After getting home, she played with Buttons and then started laundry. She opened her windows to allow cool fresh air to eliminate the musty odor.

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Kate Deploys

Previously on HFN: Kate Attends a Baby Shower

Kate left for Germany two days after the baby shower. She felt relief it wasn’t such a horrible place to go as she had feared. Perhaps she was supposed to go somewhere else, who knows. She flew in to the Frankfurt airport and took a shuttle to the base at Ramstein and checked into billeting (air force hotel services). She would be here for two months and since she was single, was assigned to a small apartment in TLF, temporary living facilities.

She was grateful it was better than a hotel so she could at least cook simple meals and make her lunches instead of eating out every day. She would still get a stipend, but didn’t have to spend it on restaurant food. She didn’t want to sabotage her mostly vegan diet while away from home. She would fill the fridge with fresh spinach, carrots, celery, blackberries, strawberries and a host of other fruits and veggies as soon as she could get to the commissary. What she didn’t spend eating out would be added to her pay when she turned in her paperwork after her return to Scott.

Since she wasn’t staying long and car insurance was much higher in Germany, she would be stuck taking a shuttle back and forth to work, the gym, and the commissary. But on her days off, she hoped to travel some. She was now only four hours away from Paris, France and five hours from Amsterdam.

She would become a temporary part of the 435th Security Forces Squadron after finding her sponsor and taking a two-day orientation class.  She couldn’t wait to sit in on yet another class.

During her time away, she kept in contact with Jenny by email and John by skype. Jenny said everything at home was the same. John never said much, except he missed her and he hated the sand that got into everything. He wondered when we would ever leave these people to their own devices. If Kate didn’t know any better, she thought John may be getting cynical. It was hard to tell though, with him so far away and their sparse communications.

****

Next time on HFN: Kate Returns to US

Until then,

Michelle

 

 

 

Heir Force Novel: Kate Attends a Baby Shower

Previously on HFN: Kate Gets Orders

A few days later, Kate ran into Spencer in the hallway at work. He had to catch her to prevent her from falling. “Oh, hi, Spencer. Sorry.” She backed up a few steps.

“No problem. You look like you’re on a mission.”

“Just going to lunch with some of the girls. Kind of like a baby shower, but a lunch hour version.”

“Ah, well have fun.” He walked away a few steps and then turned back around. “Hey, Kate, have you heard from John lately?”

Kate stopped and turned back toward Spencer. “We’ve been skyping each other including last night, but he hasn’t had much to say. Guess he’s fine.”

“Good. He replied to my email too, but didn’t say much either. Well, have fun at the shower.”

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Heir Force Novel: Kate Gets Orders

Previously on HFN: Kate and Spencer Enjoy Meatloaf

The next morning after arriving at the office, Kate’s boss informed her she’d be leaving in a week or two at most for a remote location. “Get your affairs in order, you know the drill.” Sergeant Thompson dismissed her. Kate groaned silently. But she had to do what she had to do. It couldn’t be helped if the guy she was replacing had needed surgery and got sent home. These things happened. She drove home after work and ran through her mental TDY list:

Clean out the fridge

Empty all garbage cans

Stop the paper and mail

Call the kennel to make reservations for Buttons

Get caught up on laundry

Water the two plants still living

She pulled out her green duffle bag and left it on the bedroom floor. She gathered uniforms and some civilian clothes to wash and started a load of laundry to stay caught up so it wouldn’t be piled up when she had to leave. She called the local kennel she used and made a reservation for Buttons to ensure they would have space when she needed it.

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