I meant to get a new story published this week, but I started a new job whose training left me exhausted. So, this week’s snippet is one of my favorite things I’ve written, from the short story “A Wedding” in The Futility of Loving a Soldier, my collection of short stories about veterans and their families.
In this excerpt, Abby is visiting her childhood friend, Eli, who was injured in Iraq.
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I’d stepped into the room where he lay unconscious, passed out from pain and medication. He looked so pathetic lying there, with bigger muscles than the last time I’d seen him, but paler—deathly pale with huge black circles under his eyes, cuts all over his exposed face and neck, and a bandage where his left arm should’ve been.
I edged over to his bed and picked up his right hand—his only hand now—careful not to disturb any of the wires and tubes sticking out of him. I stared at his fingers and palm, tracing the calluses on his fingertips before gently setting it back down and leaving the room.
I didn’t go back.
Jamie Linn had been there to help him rebound and rebuild once he returned home. She’d had a crush on him for as long as anyone could remember. She was a nurse now, or home care aide or traveling physical therapist—something that got her into his house each day and got him back to healthy.
Once he was better, up and around and selling used cars with his dad, she’d stuck around. It was the perfect romance story come to life, except my mom said Eli had bad spells where he’d just lock himself in his room and stare at the walls, and Jamie Linn got all weepy whenever a show like The Bachelor or 19 Kids and Counting came on and reminded her that she was twenty-seven, childless, and engaged to a moody one-handed used car salesman.
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Head over to Amazon and get a copy of The Futility of Loving a Soldier, just $2.99 or free with KU.
Eleven stories of what it means to love a soldier:
- A girlfriend explains why she knew her boyfriend wouldn’t come back from the front.
- A stranger reminds a veteran what matters in life.
- A wife struggles to trust her husband with their baby after he returns from deployment.
- Old friends search for a way to reclaim the dreams and plans of their childhood.
- A woman haunted by her experiences finds an unlikely ally.
- One man’s enlistment creates ripple effects for generations as four sons seek to make sense of what they and their fathers are fighting for.
The stories in this collection explore the physical and psychological effects of combat, both on those who serve and those back home. Told from the points of view of spouses and children as well as the soldiers themselves, the stories tackle eleven different scenarios spanning five American wars. Guilt and acceptance, despair and hope, selfishness and sacrifice, and above all, love, blend together as characters come to realize maybe their feelings aren’t futile after all.
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