Regret. The act of doing something and feeling remorse later on; the act of wanting to take something back; the act of wishing something didn’t happen. I regret ever making the joke that when my sister and I fought; it was like World War 3. I regret not telling my brother how much he meant to me and how proud I was that he was serving our country. I regret falling in love with a man that would be forced to go into the military.
Ayden received the letter in the mail two weeks ago, informing him that he would be expected to be at the airport, to involuntarily serve our country. Something bad was going to happen. Something no one was prepared for. We were only eighteen, just seniors in high school since our birthdays took place in the summer. We had been dating one year. The thought of him going half way around the world to fight in a war that came out of nowhere, scared me half to death. It wasn’t just the fact that I was losing my boyfriend who I was incredibly in love with; It was the fact that all in one day, I would be losing my boyfriend, and my best friend. No one to share my secrets with, no one to wrap me in his arms and tell me that everything was going to be okay. Just like he had done the night before when he had finally worked up the courage to tell me what had happened. My jaw hit the floor, my eyes watered up, and I may or may not have started trembling. We had been sitting on the couch when he squeezed my hand a little tighter.
“I have to tell you something.” He said.
I turned toward him with a smile on my face, which quickly faded when I saw that his own eyes had started to tear up.
“What’s wrong?” I asked immediately.
“In a week, I won’t see you. I don’t know for how long, I don’t know when I’ll be back.” He started to explain.
“Where are you going?” I asked impatiently.
“I don’t know.”
“You have to know.”
“There’s going to be a war.” He said. “A big one.” He whispered.
“There was a draft?”
He nodded his head slightly.
“When did you find out?” I asked.
“About a week ago.”
“And you didn’t tell me?”
“I didn’t know how.”
“You didn’t know how?” I whispered.
“Ava. This hurts more than if I was breaking up with you.” He said. “I’ve wanted to tell you. I have. But I didn’t know how. How do you tell someone you’re completely in love with, that you’re going off to fight in a war? That you don’t know if you’ll be coming back?”
“You certainly don’t hide it from that person.” I whispered.
“I might not be coming back.”
“Don’t say that.” I interrupted. “Don’t ever say that again.”
I let a few tears slip down the side of my cheek. He raised his hand to my face and slowly swiped them away with his thumb. He pulled me closer into his arms and kissed my forehead.
“I love you.” He whispered into my ear.
“I love you too.” I said.
Those were the last words we said to each other a week later while standing in the airport. His parents were there too .He had already hugged them and his dad had ushered his mom out to the parking lot in order to keep her from having a panic attack. Ayden and I had stood there awkwardly for a few minutes. After all, what do you say to someone when there’s a possibility you might not ever see them again? That had been when he out of nowhere grabbed me and pulled me against his chest. Wrapping me tightly in his arms, I buried my nose into the sleeve of his jacket and savored the sweet scent of his cologne.
I stood in the window of the airport, watching planes take off after he had given me a final hug and had left to board the plane. Already, I felt like I had something missing from me. Like there was a big hole in my heart. I felt empty. After some time, I decided I should probably go home.
I didn’t cry myself to sleep last night like I thought I would’ve. Instead, I just lay in bed, looking up at the ceiling, not knowing what to think. Tomorrow would be so much different than all my other days at school. No one to hold my hand while walking down the hallway, no one to go out to lunch with, and no one to look forward to so bright and early in the morning. After what seemed like forever, I drifted off to sleep, images of Ayden appearing in my dreams.
The sound of my alarm clock woke me in the morning. And all at once, it hit me, everything that I had been thinking of before drifting off to sleep the night before. Everything that had happened yesterday hadn’t been just a dream. It had been reality and it was finally starting to set in. I threw the covers off of me and started my day like any other, minus the ‘good morning beautiful’ text that I had been so used to receiving.
When I was finally ready for school, I grabbed my keys and headed out the door. The weather fit my mood perfectly. Cloudy, dark, damp, awful weather. Unlike most days that usually occurred here in California. I was used to the sun, the nice warm breeze, not this ‘Seattle like’ weather. Driving to school, I wasn’t sure if the raindrops falling on my windshield made it blurry to see, or if it was my own tears welling up in my eyes. I pretended for it to be the first option, all the while knowing it was the second. Staying strong had been one of my traits. When things got tough, I wasn’t one to run from my problems. No, I faced those dead on. Mom always said I got that from Dad.
It’d been a long time since I’d last thought about him. He was tall, strong, and stubborn. He died serving our country. Maybe that’s what scared me most about Ayden having to go fight. I’d experience death through the military too many times in my book. My grandpa had served our country and had also died in military combat, then Dad. Maybe, it was just my family. Luck just didn’t play on our side. When my brother was finally old enough to join, he surprised us all at dinner one night.
“Have you thought anymore about that business degree you want to get?” Mom had asked.
“Well, yeah. Actually, no. I’ve decided against the business degree.” Ethan had said.
“Honey, you’re almost ready to graduate. You’re changing your mind in the blink of an eye and at possibly, the last minute?”
I had sat silently, not saying a word. Ethan had told me a few months before what he’d been thinking. He knew my opinion, but didn’t know Mom’s. I wasn’t happy with what he was deciding, but I was almost willing to support him. We were close, and I didn’t want to lose him like I had lost Dad, who I’d also been so close to.
“I want to join the military.” He said quietly, and calmly.
I remember Mom’s reaction almost perfectly. She didn’t say a word at first, just looked down at her plate. When she lifted her head a minute later, tears had begun to form in her eyes, ones she blinked away quickly, not letting them spill over onto her cheeks.
“When did you, decide this?” she asked quietly.
“I’ve thought about it for a long time. My choices were either, business, or military.” He explained. “And Mom, the business thing just isn’t working out.”
“Of all things to choose.” She whispered.
She shook her head slightly and I saw a tear fall onto the table by her plate.
“Mom, things are different these days. It’s not like when Dad fought.” He explained. “Ava supports me.” He slipped.
Mom’s head snapped up and looked at me. My head bent down, looking at the spaghetti on my plate.
“You knew?” she asked quietly.
I said nothing. Absolutely nothing. Telling Mom that I had known his decision all along wasn’t part of the plan when the three of us sat down for dinner that night.
“I thought there were no secrets in this house?” she asked.
“There isn’t.” Ethan chimed in. “Anymore.” He whispered.
Mom breathed in a deep breath and let it escape.
“Ethan, I love you. And I support whatever you choose to do. You know that. But I am telling you right now, I will be ****** if I lose another important man in my life.” She said, sternly, while looking deep into his eyes.
“Dad would’ve wanted this.” Ethan said, plainly.
And with that, she had excused herself and left the table. Walking down the hallway, I heard her sniffle a couple times.
The fact of those two simple words stung but as the saying goes, “the truth hurts.” Mom was a runner. She was the one who would always run from her problems instead of confronting them. The one thing that she had always said and will continue to always say, she didn’t want Ethan going into the military. Ever since Dad had died, she’d stuck to her word. Even though, we all knew Dad would’ve wanted Ethan to follow in his steps and be a commanding officer, it’d be the one thing Mom would continuously disagree on. I guess you could say I was the same way. After Ayden had told me that he had been signed for the draft, my breath had caught and I had the same reaction as Mom would’ve had. I would’ve wanted him to do anything, anything, besides go into the military. But I guess it was different this time. No one really had a say in who was on the list and who was absent. My bad luck had just started to shine through.
School dragged on. As normal. But it was different now. Ayden wasn’t there to hold my hand. He wasn’t there to greet me after my classes, wasn’t there to walk me to my car, wasn’t there to just be in my presence. It was like he had died. And just the thought of that alone, brought tears to my eyes. I wasn’t the only one whose boyfriend had been called off for the draft. No, there were others, but none of those other couples had been like Ayden and I. We weren’t just a couple. We weren’t just homecoming king and queen. No, we were best friends. I’d known him since first grade when he’d transferred to my elementary school. I had been the one assigned to show him around the school. We became friends, and later on, best friends. Freshman year of high school, Ayden and I had gone to homecoming together. Not as a couple but just as friends because neither of us had a date. Sophomore year, we had gone together again. Not because we didn’t have a date, but because we wanted to go with each other. I’ll never forget that night, because that was the night Ayden had told me he wanted to be more than friends. I had never actually thought about being more than just his friend until he had brought it up. That night, I didn’t just fall in love with a guy; I fell in love with my best friend.
The final bell rang for school to be dismissed. Once again, I felt emptiness inside while walking through the hallway. Blurs of kids rushing past me kept me from allowing my tears to spill over onto my cheeks, but that was the only thing that stopped them. After getting into my car, I put the key into the ignition but didn’t start it; I didn’t even turn the key. I put my head in my hands and took a deep breath. In my head, I thought, “One day down.”
After sitting for a few minutes in my quiet car, and letting other vehicles exit the parking lot, I finally turned the key and started my car. Hearing the soft music come on the radio, I turned it down so I could only hear the engine running. Putting my car into reverse, I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going to go. I just wanted to drive. Halfway home, I changed directions and headed to what seemed like my second house, my best friend’s house.
I knew his Mom would be off work by now and would be there to let me in. I found it ironic, as I always have that when you’re in a hurry to get somewhere; you stop at every red light possible. Red lights, stop signs, and slow moving cars in general were the only obstacles in my way that afternoon. Finally, when I was out of the traffic and almost to Ayden’s house, I pushed my foot a little harder on the gas to gain some speed. Driving up over the gravel road, I could see in the distance his Mom’s small car parked in the driveway; along with Ayden’s. Just seeing it there, gave me false hope that maybe this was all a dream and he was actually at his house, waiting for me.
Pulling into the driveway, his Mom came out onto the porch. Ayden lived in a house that you see in the movies. A tall, white one with a wraparound porch, the swing out front. I loved spending time in that house. Putting the car in park, I slowly got out and walked up to the porch.
“How did it go?” his Mom asked.
I shrugged my shoulders, while walking up the stairs. She pulled me into her arms and hugged me. Rubbing my back, she whispered,
“It’ll be okay. He’ll be coming home sooner than you know it.”
“Can I just go up to his room?” I asked.
She released me from her arms and I opened the screen door to head inside while she remained on the porch. I walked up the stairs and to the right. Ayden’s door was closed. That was unlikely. He never kept his door shut just for the sake of it being shut. It was always opened. I pushed it open and walked inside. All his stuff was where he had left it. His bed was unmade, his closet doors standing open. I walked to his closet and ran my hands over his shirts, His scent filled my nose and I just wanted him home. I grabbed a button down, blue and white, thin striped shirt. He had worn it to school a couple times. I put it up to my nose, taking in faint bit of cologne that you could still smell on it, even after it going through the wash. I walked over to his bed, sitting down on the edge. With his shirt still pressed close to my face, I breathed in a heavy breath and let everything go. The tears started coming and I didn’t stop them. I started sobbing but I didn’t care. It seemed like everything that I’d ever loved, was gone. Because technically, it was, for the time. Ayden leaving to go fight in a war half way across the country scared me more than life itself, and hurt more than if he had broken up with me. I felt alone, even when there were dozens of people around me. I felt as if Ayden was dead when he was actually alive and well, as far as I knew. He’d only been gone one day and it felt like three years. Losing Ayden to the war efforts showed the true meaning in the saying, “you never really know what you have until it’s gone.” But really, the truth was, I knew what I had. I knew exactly what I had. I just took it for granted and didn’t think I’d ever lose it. And now all I wanted was Ayden back in the same country as me, back in the same house as where I was. In his room, watching a movie, playing a game, anything. That’s all I wanted at that exact moment.
I jumped up out of my sleep, my heart beating faster than a race car zooming around a track. I looked at my alarm clock, the red digits glaring, 2:33 back at my face. I swallowed and took a few more deep breaths before kicking the covers off and walking to the bathroom. I turned the light on and splashed some cool water over my face. Looking up into the mirror, I took one final deep breath and walked back to my room. Grabbing my phone from my nightstand next to my bed, I unplugged it and ran my finger over the touch screen. Reaching Ayden’s name, I touched the screen where it said to call. Holding the phone up to my ear, I waited for Ayden’s voice to answer. After about five rings and silence, his voice answered through his voicemail.
“Hey, it’s Ayden. I’m a little busy at the moment, but leave a message, and I’ll make sure to get back to you.”
My tears broke out all over again, my already swollen eyes releasing more sobs. I pulled my covers up to my chest and buried my face in them. My sobs grew a bit louder, and I heard footsteps coming from outside my bedroom door. I tried to stop, and after sniffling a couple times, the white door opened slowly.
“Honey,” Mom said, coming over to the bed.
“I can’t do this, Mom.” I sobbed.
She pulled me into her arms and rested her chin on my head while softly rubbing my back.
“It gets better.” she whispered. “It gets better.” she paused. “I promise.”
“I don’t know.” I said.
“I do.” she replied. “I went through this. You seem to keep forgetting. But I went through this exact same thing.”
I took a deep breath. “How long?” I asked. “How long does this last? This loneliness, this emptiness?”
“Too long.” she whispered.
She pulled me into her arms even more, holding me tighter, until I slowly laid down on my bed, my tears falling to my pillow. She sat on the edge of my bed, rubbing my back. It reminded me of all the times when I had been sick and she’d s
I know this isn't a poem, but I would like some feedback, comments or suggestions. I wrote this for a class, but I really like it. Tell me what you think. All comments are appreciated:)