His country needed him. But so did the love of his life. Torn, Corporal Mitch Ferguson ships off to Iraq, with promises to Annie that he'll be home in time for Christmas. Will Mitch be able to keep that promise? Many died while serving their country; others were wounded and maimed. Will the war that has claimed so many lives claim Mitch's as well?
"Annie, I need you to promise me some things. Promise that you'll laugh harder than you should and find pleasure in the simple things. Sometimes just a sunset can right your day. Treasure that first sip of a cold soda on a hot day. Try a different church than you're used to and appreciate you have the choice to do so. Take a walk and hold your head high, knowing as a woman you are valued and adored. But most of all, remember I love you. You are my everything. And this is my promise to you. I'll be home for Christmas." Corporal Mitch Ferguson of the Marine Forces Reserve placed the phone back in its cradle. He closed his eyes and sighed. Today he would die.
His premonition had never been more real.
Still, he intended to keep his vow and return to the one who held his heart. It was the how he didn't know.
Annie. God, he loved her. Lit from within, she filled his life with joy. Her smile had brought him to his knees the first time he'd ever laid eyes on her. And he'd been lost ever since.
He grasped his chest as a painful spasm clutched his heart, thinking of her unhappiness. Always a trooper, she'd bravely tried to hide her sadness. But the crack in her voice and her soft sobs gave her away. He'd give anything to see her smile just once more—even the world were it within his power to grant.
The only thing he could do was help to ensure her freedom. It was the one gift he could guarantee and would gladly sacrifice his life in the process.
Not expecting it would be today. He didn't want it to happen so soon. There was so much left unsaid, so much left undone.
He ached to hold her, to fit her soft curves against his hardness like a perfectly cut puzzle.
Annie understood his commitment, his deep love for their country. Never once did she beg him to stay, to not enlist. He loved her all the more for allowing him that bit of respite, for it was something he knew he must do.
Feeling the pain of separation as keenly as she did, a deep sense of emptiness settled in his soul. Without her his world wasn't right. A piece was missing as if a part of him had been violently ripped away.
Out the window, he watched the flag gently wave when caught by a rare breeze crossing the hot, arid desert. The majestic symbolism of the red, white, and blue swelled his chest near to bursting, reminding him of why he was here.