A Conversation Between Friends
Kate smiled as she watched Malcolm interact with the other children in his class. She hated to leave him in daycare every day, but was thankful that he enjoyed the interaction with his peers so much. Knowing he was happy made it that much easier for her to leave him. He always missed her and gave her bear hugs when she picked him up. She delighted in these hugs, making their separation worth it.
Today, he was so involved in his play that she decided to let him stay for a little longer and worked her way to the manager’s office. Fallon Rhodes, the director, had been her friend all her life. She noticed that Fallon’s office was empty when she passed by earlier. She knocked softly before entering, then sat in the oversized armchair that decorated a corner of the office.
“Hi.” She said.
“Hi!” Fallon returned. She looked up from some paperwork she was filling out and smiled. “You’ve been a stranger lately. Everything okay?”
“Yes. You’ve just been really busy. There’s been someone in the office with you every time I’ve come in, and Malcolm doesn’t always let me socialize. He misses me, so when I pick him up, he dominates my attention. It doesn’t give me a lot of time to talk to you, unfortunately.”
“I understand. The kids are like that with me when I make rounds too. Imagine 30 Malcolm’s all demanding your immediate attention!” She laughed. “I’m glad you stopped in. We need to get together and have some fun, like old times. Any word on when Martin is expected back home yet?”
“No. The curses of being a military wife means I could spend hours waiting at the airport on the day they say he is to arrive. I’m praying that Malcolm will cooperate. I can’t imagine not having him there, though.”
“We’ll figure it out. Would your mom be willing to come out to watch Malcolm for a day so we could get away?”
“Are you kidding? I can’t even get my mom to come out when I need to do something for work on the weekends! Don’t even get me started on the tantrum I get when I ask.”
“Oh I can imagine. She would pull that same thing when we were kids and we needed her to do something to help us. I never could figure out exactly what it was that was so time-consuming that she couldn’t leave it.”
“You know, I never did either, and I lived there. Martin provided an easy out for me.”
“Do you ever regret it? Marrying him so young?”
“No. I still got to finish school. That was thanks to the military, but still. There are a lot of young wives who can’t say that. And I love him, so that’s a bonus.”
“Well, I knew that part. I just wondered if you ever wish you’d waited to get married. You know, had time to play the field a little before settling down.”
“No, I really don’t. Honestly. I think the moment I met him, looking sharp in that ROTC uniform, I knew it was forever. I don’t think I could have played the field even if I’d had the opportunity. He captured my heart with ‘Hello”.” A dreamy look developed on her face. Fallon knew that look well. She smiled.
“Ah, Martin! Martin, Martin, Martin. If only I’d known the trouble you’d be I’d have done everything in my power to keep Kate away from you!” Fallon’s head shifted from side to side, the fire colored hair crowning it settling in soft curls along her jawline. Her words ended in a higher pitch, something she did when she was laughing.
“You would not!!” Kate slapped out at her friend, feigning shock at her words. “You still would have played the cupid card and set us up. You know it, too.”
“Oh, I know. I just miss the moments we never had together after he came into our lives.”
“ Hahahahahaha. ‘The moments we never had’? You should start writing Hallmark cards with those lines. You’re almost as bad as Martin.”
“I beg to differ. Those cheesy lines Martin feeds you help you survive his deployments. Have you heard from him lately?” She watched as Kate’s face crumbled as if it were bread crumbs on her lap.
“No. It’s been several months since I’ve heard from him. I ask and no one will answer me. They just say that its wartime, and in war, they can’t guarantee any communication. I think this is where the military wife and the journalist’s life don’t mix.” Kate’s eyes misted over slightly as a small sigh escaped her lips. “I heard a rumor that some cellphones and laptops were confiscated by the African troops and they are using those contacts to torture the servicemen they captured. This happened several months ago at a base station in Libya. I’m surprised that the US hasn’t sent in troops to free them yet.”
“I’m never surprised by the government anymore. Sometimes I think we are headed for socialism. This is the first I’ve heard of this though, so they must be keeping it under tight wrapping.”
“Like I said, it’s only a rumor. It would be a good explanation as to why no one is communicating though.”
“You don’t think Martin is one of the captives do you?”
“No.” Another small sigh escaped her lips. “Last time I talked to him he was stationed in a way off place near Nigeria. He said the native life is bad there. If it weren’t for the military base, those people wouldn’t even have fresh water to drink. Isn’t that sad?”
“It’s very sad. Makes you scared for what he’s going to bring home with him, doesn’t it?”
“No. He’ll undergo a physical and psychological exam before letting him come home.”
“At least, that’s what they tell you, right?”
“Fallon! Why are you so cryptic? I’ve never known you to be like this before.”
“I’m sorry, Kate. I’m sure you’re right. I just don’t like this whole war with the African Alliance. They are worse than any others we’ve fought in the past, and the way they have left their countries, and the devastation of disease in their villages disgusts me. I’m appalled that our government sticks its nose in everyone else’s business though. As if we don’t have enough issues here to worry about, we have to go bother Africa.”
“I suppose. I don’t think the US knows what to do if we aren’t at war with someone anymore. I guess I should be grateful because if they didn’t, Martin would be out of a job.”
“I don’t know, Kate. I think Martin would do better to get a regular job. When is his enlistment up?”
“He’s got two years left before he can get out. He’s a lifer though, Fallon. You know that. It’s like he doesn’t exist without the military.”
“Are you okay with that? The possibility of a lifetime as a military wife?”
“Of course. I knew it when I married him in the first place. Besides, I don’t think one could ever stop being a military wife after a certain length of time. Martin’s old CO and his wife stopped by the other day. They’ve been retired for several years now, but you can still see how the military has dictated their choices in life. It’s not a bad thing.”
“As long as you are happy, Kate. I will try to swallow some of my cynicism for your sake. It’s not a life I could live, but then, you and I have always been opposites. It’s what makes us work.”
“I agree. Can we talk about lighter things now? Your office became dark all the sudden.”
Fallon looked around her office. She realized Kate was right, it did look darker somehow despite the cheery prints she kept hanging on the walls.
“You’re right. So, what are you doing for dinner?”
A slight tapping on the frame of the door interrupted them. “Excuse me, Mrs. Chisholm, but Malcolm’s teacher said that Malcolm is upset and wondered if you could come and get him now?”
A long sigh filled the air as Kate nodded and rose from the chair. She turned to Fallon with a smile.
“I’m making chicken. It’s probably accompanied by wagon wheel pasta coated with powdered cheese, and some soggy vegetables. Malcolm will eat it, and I will be satisfied. You are always welcome to join us. See you soon!”
She walked to Malcolm’s room, opened the door, and almost fell over Malcolm’s attack was so strong. She scrunched down, feeling his arms tighten about her neck, as his soft baby voice whispered “Mal miss Mama!”
At the beginning of the month, we asked you to write a longer piece (if you chose to use the entire 1,800 word count limit) and describe “who resides in your world. Let’s meet some of those characters, shall we?”
As always, concrit is welcomed and appreciated. Tell me what you think of this little group of NaNoWriMo characters I have here.