Please Come Home Safe

In life, we should not take things for granted. Take time to be thankful.

It is 3 a.m. in the morning. John Curtis secretly sneaks out the bed where Rose Swan is still sleeping soundly. In lightning speed, John reaches for his bag and leaves the house immediately. As he sits on the bus, he knows she will be shattered and torn into pieces as she reads the letter he writes for her before he leaves that morning. He could not take her off his mind. Her brunette curly shoulder-length hair that goes well with her brown eyes and rosy cheek that compliments her name are what attract him so much whenever they first met back a year ago.

War in the Afghanistan has never ceased ever since President Bush declared war with the third-world country following the 9-11 incident. Troops after troops of soldiers have been sent to the chaotic war zone. Some fortunate ones come back in one piece while some does not make it safely back to the home country. As a former army, John feels compelled and it is his responsibility to defend his country. He secretly reenlists himself, knowing his 75-year-old grandma and 26-year-old girlfriend would protest. Split in between the country and his loved ones, John made a hard decision too to choose between the two.

Gently, he takes out a photo of him and her that was taken only last week while he is on the bus to the terminal. Both of them were at the Spring Carnival sharing sugar floss. Rose definitely did not see this coming that John had reenlisted himself to serve for the country. From the photo, he seemed a little sad and reluctant to let go off his girlfriend, having no idea if he is able to make it back safely this time, again. This is his third reenlistment and he has been very fortunate to come back safe each time.

She knows John has been doing a great job as a finance analyst at an established finance firm in the country while she teaches Science at the local primary school. Both have a great vision of the future. They plan to start a family together. He wants three children while she protests she wants four. However, the pleasure of argument has always let John giving way to her and she kissing him back and making love to him on any Sunday afternoon. On Saturday, they like spending time together either having barbecues with their friends, enjoying dinner for two in their favourite Indian restaurant or even jogging in parks on Saturday late afternoons.

The plane has left for more than an hour by the time she reaches to the terminal. She stares at the sky with the crumpled letter she holds firmly in her hand. She gets onto her knees as his grandma catches up with her from behind.

Grandma, John’s gone. He reenlists himself,” her tears streaming.

Oh sweetheart. I know. He left me a letter too,” Grandma said. “Let me give you a big hug sweetheart.

In the comforting hug of Grandma, she stares upon the sky and whispers, “He’s gone.

Just for a while sweetheart,” Grandma reassures her, “He’ll be back, he promised.

I know he will,” Rose comforts herself, “I know he will.

Grandma brings her back to her house and makes her some pineapple tarts. “Come on dear, have something to eat. You haven’t eaten anything since this morning.

Thanks Grandma but I’m not hungry,” she turns down the offer.

You need to eat something sweetheart,” Grandma insists. “I’m sure John doesn’t want any of us to be so down. It’s normal for us to feel sad but we have to deal with this and move on.

But it’s like a suicide mission Grandma,” she snaps. “We don’t know if he’ll make it back safely or not.

You need to have faith and hope on my grandson sweetheart,” Grandma comforts her. “This time, John made a hard decision to leave too. Because he fell in love with a girl that he truly loves.

Grandma pulls out a drawer and reaches for a letter. She passes it to Rose. “Read this and you’ll know.

Dear Grandma,

I love you. Thank you for raising me since my parents died when I was eight. Thank you for always been there for me. Through my naughty childhood, rough adolescence years and everything. You are the world to me and nothing can replace the love you have given me. Thank you for being an amazing grandma and guardian. Every single day till death, I am always grateful for what you have done to me. You are the greatest thing that could have happened to an orphan like me.

I know if I told you I am reenlisting, you would not agree with me. Rose would not too. But I am split in between the country that I love with my life and the two amazing women I love too. I figured out I need to keep our country safe, so both of you could have a better place to live in. This is a huge sacrifice, I know. Grandma, can I have your blessing to reenlist myself in the military, again to keep our country safe from the terrorists?

I changed my will. Should anything happens, I want both you and Rose to be the beneficiaries. All my things will be divided in equal ratio. Both of you are really important people to me. I do not know if there is any other better way than this.

Rose is an amazing woman that I met one year ago. She has been everything to me. It was like we are destined to be together. Life has been umpteen better ever since I dated her. She means the world to me and I promise myself someday I want to marry this beautiful woman and make her the happiest woman on Earth. And that is of course she would say yes when I propose to her after I finish the tournament.

Meanwhile, please promise me you will take good care of yourself while I am away. Please take care of Rose too. She definitely does not see this coming I cannot let her deal with my reenlistment alone. I hope you could help her find her way back to her usual outgoing and easy-going personality. I don’t want to see her enshrouded with grey clouds each day. She deserves the warm sunshine and love from people around her.

Grandma, I will miss you as always. And I can never thank you enough for what you have done to me throughout these 20 years. I know it has never been easy on you. Thank you.

I love you.

With all my heart,

John

Rose’s vision is blurred by her tears. She stares out the sky through an open window. As the spring breezes lap on her cheek, she murmurs, “John, I love you. And come back home safe. I am waiting for you.

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::LEON HA::

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