OCTOBER 8TH, 3:55 PM (2:55 PM MOUNTAIN TIME)
nearest the doorway, his feet probably aching-sore from standing all day, slowly
turned. He kept his M4 ready. Words were exchanged between himself and whoever
was outside the doorway. Though the speech dragged, Lang finally recognized the
voice - it was Colonel Stevens.
Stevens began his snail-like passage into the room once the DFR moved out of the
out an exasperated gush of air. “What do they want now, Dad?”
know.” Lang glanced up at the clock on the wall, the magical clock whose second
hand barely moved. Thanks, hull. But whatever, it was now 2:55 pm. He gently
pushed the WW1 book Colonel Stevens had given him to read, The Guns of August,
along with the eraser-headed pencil to help turn the pages, now closed up within
the book, across the bed until near the pillows. He then crabbed-crawled across
the bed and placed his hull-covered feet upon the first step. Hmm, interesting;
just as Nahas had noted, he felt little joint pain, even after kneeling for so
long on the bed.
up and began walking down the steps. Great. Here we go again. Though Dr. Maplen
and Colonel Stevens meant well by placing these aluminum modular steps next to
their beds, it was becoming nothing more than a torturous reminder of his and
Evan’s extreme shortness.
his four steps and simply jumped right off his bed, landing with exaggeration,
enjoying the drop.
At least Evan was trying to have some fun.
of motion flashed around Colonel Stevens. Huh? Lang focused in that direction.
Kyleigh appeared, running ahead of Colonel Stevens. She locked her eyes on Lang
and ran toward him.
down the last two steps.
She slowed her pace a little and walked closer to the wall. She was crying, her
eyes red, tear-filled. “I’m not…I’m not doing so well.”
poor woman! Lang rushed to the ends of both beds and then slowly walked closer,
unsure how to react. “Kyleigh. What is it? What’s wrong?”
didn’t answer. Instead she rushed straight for him and flung up her hands. She
pushed her hull-covered body right up against the front of him. He felt stunned,
yet couldn’t back away. He allowed the repulsion to continue.
Stevens’ tablet was speaking something to Evan, but Evan didn’t listen; he only
stood nearby, confused, breathing hard, watching Lang closely.
the seventeen second wait the hull instantly wrapped a small tent around him and
up at him, tears streaming down her face. “Lang. I’m sorry. I didn’t…mean…” She
couldn’t continue, but her beautiful, tear-filled eyes pleaded, communicated
pounding, his thoughts in a disarray, Lang seized from her eyes the only truth he
could sense. “Kyleigh. Do you want me to hold you?”
she didn’t answer. She placed her trembling hands on Lang’s chest and sank forward
against him. His large frame took the fall of her slender build easily, barely
moving him into the hull’s back wall behind them. She rested the side of her
face against his chest, just over his pounding heart, and continued to cry.
No. Don’t embrace her back.
hung his arms by his side at first, but then placed one hand on her back, stroking
like years since a woman pressed against his body. He looked at Evan, hoping
for a funny smirk, or a silly shrug. But Evan was absolutely no help at all; in
Evan’s wide eyes, confusion still reigned, but also concern. Yet most blaringly
of all, Evan’s expression and gestures screamed something else – ‘Dad! What are
you doing? Hug her back, now!’
all Lang needed. Kyleigh was still crying, her tears soaking through both his
outer jacket and white buttoned shirt right to the skin on his chest. She needed
him, desperately. With emotions and needs of his own that had been bottled up
for months, Lang wound his arms around her and pressed her tightly against his
began to shake, trembling against his thighs. He lessened his embrace around
her, yet kept his left arm holding her close enough so she wouldn’t sink to the
floor. He gently, repeatedly smoothed the back of her head with his free hand,
her blond hair so soft and comforting to his touch. “Kyleigh. Please tell me
what’s wrong. You’re shaking so much.”
came faster, her sobs staggered. “I’m sorry, Lang. I…I need to sit down…Please.”
She began releasing her arms.
sure,” Lang said. “You want to sit on my bed?”
up and around the small hull enclosure. Lang did too. It was a few inches
taller than Lang and elliptical in shape, maybe about five feet long by four
just want to sit down here,” she said, wobbling, nearly collapsing.
her hands and steadied her. Tears yet streamed from her beautiful blue eyes,
lines of liquid trailed from her nose to her lips. She noticed where he gazed
and quickly removed her hand from his grip, wiping under her nose as furtively
as she could.
even more and then her knees gave out. Lang locked his arm around her small,
slim waist and slid his curled arm up until he had her secured under her arms
and around her upper back. With his other hand he kept hold of her free hand,
caressing cold, trembling fingers. He gently lowered her to the floor. Her
weight felt so light, her frame so small. Or could he be that much stronger?
Strength and capability gushed through his muscles as never before. For so long
of late he had been a mere insect of a person. But because of dear Kyleigh, and
her desperation to be with him, in a few short seconds he emerged a strong,
to the floor and held her sobbing face in her palms, as though hiding in shame.
Lang knelt next to her, on her right side. The feeling she had ignited within
him, that strength, that power, emboldened him. Adjusting to a comfortable sitting
position on the hull floor, Lang wrapped his arms around her trembling shoulders
and embraced her closely against his body. “Kyleigh. What is it, what’s bothering
a few times, and wiped her nose. “It’s just that…it’s just that…” She leaned
back and looked up at him. He loosened his embrace on her. “My son, Brayden.
He…he died, Lang, one year ago, on October ninth. That’s tomorrow, their time.”
Kyleigh. I didn’t know.” What a horrible pain no parent should ever experience.
He held her closer. “I’m so, so sorry.”
even more, into his shirt, wetting his skin more than the last time. But he
didn’t care, not one ounce. Her tears were bringing him to life.
of her sadness and heartache? No, what’s wrong with me! He ignored his
smoothed his palm up and down along her back, comforting her. “It’s all right,
it’s all right.”
not,” she said suddenly. She wiggled herself away from his close hold and leaned
her back against the hull’s tent wall. She stretched her legs out, her blue
pants trembling from her continued shakiness. She looked at him. “Lang, th-thank
you, really. I don’t…I don’t know, why…I just…I just lost it.”
rather uncomfortable, Lang pressed himself into the hull’s tent wall the same
as she had done. “You have no reason to explain yourself. None at all.” He took
hold of her right hand. “It’s very wrong what they’re doing, keeping us separated
like this. It’s not your fault.”
noticeably. “These decrease events. They’re really getting to me.” Tears welled
up in her eyes again. “Lang…I’m shorter now than…” She sobbed, sniffling,
trying to stop her tears. “I’m much shorter than my Brayden…when he…when he…”
She removed her hand from Lang’s grip. She leaned into her hands again,
covering her face, crying uncontrollably.
over and took her in his arms once more. He knew she needed him, but at the same
time he had an intense burning fire of need to have her too. “I know…I know
what you’re feeling. I’m so much shorter now than Deidra.” Lord, Deidra,
my beautiful Deidra. His own eyes suddenly began filling with tears.
No, please, not now! No, no, no! Be strong and fight this!
emotions, and his eyes, wouldn’t listen. Streams left his welled eyes and trailed
down his face. He slipped his hand away from her trembling body and quickly
wiped the tears away.
was too late. Kyleigh knew. She took hold of him and held him closer. Her breathing
increased, and Lang sensed she wanted desperately to cease her own display of
weakness, her uncontrollable crying, same as he was trying his best to do. And
he sensed something else; she wasn’t releasing him because she wanted him next
to her, however this could happen. Her past words infused into his very core:
‘I just want to tell you, Lang. I really like you’. And they shared the loss of
a precious loved one, and that’s why each could be the most encompassing,
wrapping comfort blanket anyone could ever offer; two crying souls, molding
into each other’s embrace.
seemed to be far off in the distance, Lang could hear Evan, Colonel Stevens,
and Major Ko struggling to have a conversation with someone’s tablet.
gained control of his crying. He wiped his eyes and nose until dry. “I’m sorry,
Kyleigh. I shouldn’t be falling apart here. I’m not being much help for you.”
He tightened his arms around her, never wanting to let her go.
true,” she spoke gently, her breathing slowing, her shaking lessening. “You are
so much help for me.” She sighed. “I think one of my problems too…I’m losing my
faith, Lang. I can’t believe God would allow this to happen to us.”
Don’t lose your faith. I know, I’ve been having trouble myself. But we just have
to keep trying, and keep praying.”
appeared and abruptly thrust his hands against their small hull tent, producing
the required seconds, the hull engulfed him inside. Smoothly, soundlessly, their
hull tent grew in an eye blink.
up at him. “Evan, what is it?”
say anything. He knelt down, to Lang’s right side, and snuggled against Lang’s
gazed at Evan, even smiling briefly, though she kept her arms wrapped around Lang.
his right arm around Evan and tugged him closer. “What is it, son? Tell me.”
but they’re not letting us visit with the other hull people anymore.” Evan only stared down while
he spoke. “And you can just be with Kyleigh a
short time longer. But worst of all, they tried to stop me from coming here by you. So, I’m ending this, now.”
didn’t make any sense. “What are you talking about?”