Jimmy sat looking out the window from his hospital bed. The snowflakes came down gently, almost as if to let his thoughts go on without intrusion. Here he was an army base hospital stateside instead of leading an infantry into the pits of hell. The explosives had seen to that. His knee was replaced, his left pinky finger gone and a horrible scar graced the left side of his scalp all the way to his jaw. Jimmy closed his eyes and searched for a memory that made him smile.
He remembered when she was just nine years old. He was getting his car loaded up for his trip to college. One of his friends from school was grabbing a ride with him. Missy had been working in her garden. The garden had long since been called hers, as she tended it with loving care.
He stood waiting for her to notice him leaving. Gloria, his friend was in a hurry to go. Suddenly, long black wavy hair came racing over the embankment and down to see him. She reached for him and Gloria shrieked. ‘Children with dirty faces and hands shouldn’t go hugging people. Look at those fingernails!’
Missy shoulders sagged as she stepped back. She walked away slowly. Jimmy figured it best to just get in the car. As he drove down the driveway though, he looked in his rear view mirror. There stood Missy looking like someone had slapped her. Jimmy quickly got out of the car and ran over to where she stood looking at her hands. He took her hand and sat walked to the porch swing ,lifting Missy onto his lap. ‘I’m too dirty, and I’m too old to sit on laps anyway, Jimmy.”
‘You are never too old, and I don’t give a hoot how dirty your face or hands are. You are my little Missy and I love you.’ He gazed into her big brown eyes. She reached out and hugged his neck. ‘I love you too Jimmy!’
Gloria thought he was pretty weird. ‘She’s just a kid, not even your sister. She WAS filthy. Your shirt is all wrinkled and there’s a few smudges on your face.’ Jimmy just smiled.
The memory faded as he went to grab a pillow and realized where he was.
Jimmy took a sip of his coffee and put it back on the breakfast tray.. It didn’t seem real. He was walking through a dusty road one minute and suddenly fire all over. Nights were no picnic for him. Nightmares and night sweats. He woke up to the sound of his own voice hollering.
He remembered another fire. Missy’s parents had perished and he was left to fetch her from her room because the firemen said it was too risky and they couldn’t try it. She had nightmares too. He wondered if she still had them. The nurse came in with his ‘happy pill’ and soon he was asleep. In his dream he relived a happier time. He had been in college four years and then got married. He remembered Missy was 16 then. She wore a beautiful yellow dress with her hair up. She looked much older than her age. His fiance’ was very aware of her. ‘You are marrying me, remember? Stop looking at Missy like she’s the frosting on the cake!’
One year later his marriage split as his wife found another man. He once again was saying good bye to everyone as he joined the army. He was so lost back then. Jimmy did remember that Missy was having a group of girls over for the night. Her mind was on telling all about the new job her aunt had for her as soon as she graduated. She was working part time modeling then. Jimmy sat in the living room listening to her chatter and giggle. Suddenly, the girls were ushered out of the house and Missy came to sit near him.
Jimmy remembered she sat there and just held his hand. It was amazing how a 17 year old girl had so much wisdom.
The fire was suddenly there and she was burning. His army buddies were burning. Jimmy dreamed that fire engulfed every place he looked. He woke up two hours later with a nurse talking loudly to him. No one dared touch him in this state. The sheets were drenched in sweat. Jimmy had deep emotional wounds. He was in the psychiatric ward for observation due to his frequent spells.
‘Jimmy! You have a visitor. I believe she said her name was Melissa. Do you want to see her?’
‘Yes, yes, I mean no, oh well ok.’ He didn’t want her to see him like this. His face was still bandaged. Somehow though, it all didn’t matter as he stared at the woman slowly making her way to his bed.
This was not the Missy he remembered. She wore heels, a light blue suit with a white chiffon blouse. Her earrings were white pearl. She looked more like a business woman than the girl he kissed good bye two years earlier. It was her hair and eyes that were the same though. Still a wild tangle of curly black hair with big brown eyes.
She leaned over the bed and kissed his cheek. ‘Welcome home Jimmy.’ she said softly. ‘I’ve been praying for you each day.’
He was speechless. He had not said a prayer since the explosion. He gazed up at Missy and said ‘have a seat’.
Missy pulled up a chair and took his hand. He had no idea what to say. ‘I read your letters. I guess you are a full time model now.’
‘Yes, I’m a walking clothes rack.’ she smiled. ‘I like the work but it gets tiresome. I usually take a bible break and get my strength back.’
‘Bible break?’ Jimmy was confused.
‘Well, as I was praying for you , I began to read my bible looking for God’s promises. I claimed them for you. The time I spent doing that brought a whole new meaning to my faith in God.’ She cleared her throat and continued, ‘I love you Jimmy and I just wanted you home. I wanted you safe and in a place I could call you or come see you. I guess I am stingy.’ She began to blush and Jimmy was stunned. She was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.
‘Well, I am not quite home yet.’ He swallowed not knowing how to tell her why he was where he was.
‘Jimmy, I know what some of what you went through. It’s good that you are here. But, I have a lot of time coming from my job. I took a room nearby and I plan to be part of your recovery. I am here for you as you were always there for me. OK? Any how, you can’t drive me out cause I am staying!’
Jimmy smiled ‘Same old Missy. Stubborn as ever. It’s not pretty though. Even the nurses are afraid of my spells.’
Jimmy spent the afternoon swapping memories of their childhood.
To be continued