I live right across the river from Iowa, which passed a law this year legalizing pretty much all fireworks. Normally to get the good stuff you have to drive a couple hours to Wisconsin or Missouri, but now everyone has access to everything, and for the past couple weeks my neighborhood has been under siege, with explosions ringing out nearly constantly. It’s irritating to me – and I can only imagine how bad it is for vets with PTSD.
So, in honor of the Fourth and my idiot neighbors, this week’s excerpt is from “Crash,” another story in The Futility of Loving a Soldier, my collection of short stories about veterans and their families.
In this story, a father worries about how his daughter, who has combat-related flashbacks, will react – but this year, she has a secret weapon.
* * * * * * *
It was July third and neighbors had been shooting off fireworks all evening. Members of his support group had shared how hard it was for some veterans on the Fourth, especially if they’d had experiences like his daughter’s. He anticipated she’d spend the next couple days holed-up in her room, alternating between depression and violent rage. He anticipated she’d be like that right now, in fact, and he had no idea how he’d deal with it.
To his surprise, she was smiling – laughing, even. She played a game of fetch with the dog, running and twirling and showing an exuberance he couldn’t remember her having since her mom had died six years earlier.
A string of firecrackers went off in the distance. Bill tensed, and so did Lindy. Not the dog though; it pressed its nose against her hand. She looked down at it, smiled, and threw a drool-soaked tennis ball for it to chase.
* * * * * * *
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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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