can go from awesome to total shit and for me it’s going to change forever. Who am I?
My name is PFC Jameson Carter, and I am a United States Marine, or I was
until a bomb detonated and took half of me with it. The only thing that kept me alive was the
woman I had waiting back for me at home.
being a complete person to being half of something? For me, I have help, but how can I be
anything more than half of what I used to be?
Then when the one person you count on, the person you lived for leaves
you how do you react?
life is easy, she helps repair people like me, the people who lose limbs. Something isn’t the same though, she’s
changed. See I’ve known Samantha for
years. She’s hiding something. Can we help each other through these trying
times in our lives? Or does the fact
remain that we are both irreparable?
I gasp, my body drenched in sweat, it’s something that I’ve become accustomed
to. Four months I’ve been in this hospital
reliving the pain of that night, and I still relive it every day I wake up and
look down at my lower half.
to leave this hell hole I have been placed into by the VA. I look around the room at all the high tech
equipment they have all around me. There
is a heart monitor and it is beeping like crazy as my eyes land on Mary-Beth
sleeping peacefully on the pull out couch.
It took two months to get me back to the States after the bombing; I had
to have extensive therapy for the burns I sustained. Luckily for me I didn’t have any scarring,
but my legs couldn’t be saved.
hospital smell, you know what I mean?
The clean smell, the smell of alcohol wipes, and the smell of iodine as
it goes on to clean your skin. That is a
smell I don’t believe I will ever be able to forget. It is etched into my brain
is what I got after having my legs blown apart and four of my best friends
stripped from me by Al-Qaida. I have been through three extensive surgeries,
and unfortunately by the end of them, I have lost both of my legs.
look over and smile as I notice Mary-Beth laying on the couch of my hospital
room, her brown hair covering her beautiful face. I laugh softly as I see the
drool running down her chin onto her pillow from her plump lips. Three years she waited for me after high
school and I thank God every day because, let me be honest, I would have given
up a long fucking time ago if it weren’t for her. She stirs and sits up and
wipes the drool from her face and catches my eye. Standing from her make shift bed she gets up
and comes to stand before me.
asks. Looking into those beautiful emerald green eyes I know she knows I had
the dream again, so I will not lie to her; she sees through them anyway.
night but it will be fine. I’m just ready to get the hell out of this place.” I
smile and lean into her hand when she places it on my cheek, but a feeling of
dread washes over me as I look at the wheelchair I have been given.
and I shouldn’t have to rely on anything to help me get around. Well, except
for my midnight blue 2012 Mustang GT waiting at home for me. I thought I had a reason to hate the men that
performed those acts of terrorism after 9/11, but after February 2013 my hate
has changed. If I could I would kill them all with my bare hands.
out of here? I know a little girl who is going to be so excited to see you
again.” Mary-Beth smiles and when I shrug she lets out a sigh. “Jameson, I know
you’re dealing with a lot of loss baby, but you have to remember, you’re here and
you survived. You cannot leave; I need you here with me.” She lets out a little
sigh and looks me in the eye before she speaks again.
he took you away I would never be able to breathe again. After losing Mom and Leila, I could never
imagine losing you. You’re the greatest part of me. Even if you feel you are
not whole, you are. You’re alive and you’re breathing. That’s got to be worth
something.” A tear runs down her cheek as she looks at me and my breathing
hitches. I am being selfish. I am alive
while four of my brothers were laid to rest. Their families have that burden to
bear, while I just have to carry the thought of being half of what I once was.
I am glad to still be breathing but it doesn’t mean it’s going to get easier. How
am I supposed to go on knowing it should have been me? It could have been me.”
I look down at the sheets and twist my hands into them so I don’t have to look
into her face. I know what’s in her eyes; pity mixed with agony and I want
neither of those emotions when I look at her.
over to her bag and then into the bathroom, slamming the door shut. I wait until I hear the water running and
lift my blanket slowly to look at the bandages on my now non-existent legs. I
let the air leave my lungs in a loud groan, thinking of what the future holds.
the two nurses’ help me from the bed to the wheelchair. “Man, you’re going to be walking in no time
with the physical therapist you got.
Blalock is the best in the profession around here,” Kurt says as he
wheels me down to the front of the hospital.
beside her red Honda Accord and smiling.
“You finally get to come home.” I
laugh softly and reach my hands into the car.
I put one hand on the console and one on the dashboard just like they
taught me to do in therapy in the hospital.
wheelchair as I pull myself into the seat.
I guess that’s what I get for making fun of Lieutenant Dan in Forrest
Gump. Now I’m the real life version of him.
“Thanks for everything Kurt,” I
say and salute him before he shuts the door.
Mary-Beth slides into the car and her shorts ride up her already exposed
thighs. “Baby, you’re trying to kill me,”
I say with a grin and she laughs.
keep you alive, thank you,” she replies and starts driving to the house. We pull up to the house, which is a simple
townhouse covered in brick along with four others in the complex. There is a white picket fence for Maggie, my
golden Labrador, in the back. Man how I have missed her!
Mary-Beth gets the wheelchair out of the trunk and brings it over to my
as I position my hands to move myself from the car to the chair. I will be so glad when I don’t have to worry about
relying on someone else to help me.
front door and walks around me. “Wait
right here Jameson. I’m gonna go put Maggie in the back yard so she doesn’t
jump all over you before you can get situated.” She starts to walk in but I
now, please.” I smile and push my chair
into the threshold and laugh when Maggie jumps into my lap like she weighs all
of ten pounds. We wrestle a bit and she
jumps around licking all over my face.
Well at least one of my girls was excited to see me. It wasn’t that Mary-Beth
wasn’t excited; I was torn and mangled
when she first saw me. I guess that
deserves a pass for not being enthusiastic.
missing you the last few years, but a lot more since you came back for a week
before your deployment. She did a lot of
moping. I suppose we owe Tanner, the kid next door, for spending time with her.. He likes to play ball with Maggie. I think
the kids at school bully him and she seems to be therapeutic for him.” Mary-Beth smiles and pushes me into the
living room and walks back into the kitchen.
starts pawing at me to rub her head, so I rub the top of her head and scratch
her ear like I did when she was a puppy. I can’t believe how big Maggie is
getting. She has grown up into a big golden Labrador and she has one ear that
flops and one that sticks up in a funny way.
Her long hair is all over the house, but it’s totally worth it. It’s amazing how a dog will never forget a
person who cared for it. Well I’m sure they won’t forget the person who abuses
face. Thank the good Lord for this
woman, she knows me so well. I haven’t
had a drink in six very long months. I
take a sip and moan my approval.
wanted to go to Hooter’s tonight. Mason and Luke wanted to see you, but if
you’re not up for it we can stay in and I’ll order some pizza.” She smiles and I meet her green eyes.
a few more days before I try to do the social thing. Hooters isn’t really the
place for me to go, not like this.” I
point to the chair and Mary-Beth’s smile disappears.
bitchy woman is out again. “Mary-Beth,
I’m in a damn wheel chair and it’s always so packed in there. I wouldn’t be
able to get around,” I say and she puts her hand on her hip.
be able to accommodate you. It’s against the law not to.” Here goes momma bear Mary-Beth. It’s
something I have always loved about her and she never lets people get picked
on. She has tried to be superwoman to
everyone when we were younger. Well, except to Luke’s sister Sam. It was like
they had a competition or something.
Speaking of Sam, I need to check on her. I haven’t spoken to her since
the night I left for Afghanistan.
but I’d rather not go for a few more weeks please.” I pet Maggie’s head again
and then turn on the flat screen to watch some LSU football. Don’t judge me. Les Miles puts on a nail
biter and it’s not always easy to see my Tigers play where I’ve been.
order us some pizza then.” With that she walks out of the room, and for once I
actually feel like a man again. Pissed
off woman? Check. Dog by my side? Check.
Beer in my hand? Check. Step one on my
road to normalcy is complete.
Mary-Beth and Maggie on both sides of me. Funny how they can come and go as
they want, but I have to move from one seated place to another. I eat my pizza and groan; hospital food sucks
compared to this. I grab Mary-Beth’s
hand and drink a sip of my beer. She
squeezes my hand and lays her head down in my lap as I watch the game. “It’s nice to have you back Jameson.” She
sighs and I smile.
out a light chuckle and she slaps my thigh.
feel like you’re not enough anymore, but baby you’ll always be enough for
me.” She locks our fingers and turns her
head to look up at me.
just hard to explain.” I put the beer
down and run my fingers through her hair.
I watch as she closes her almond shaped green eyes. This is my Mary-Beth; the one I took to the
field behind old man Rayborn’s barn in town.
She’s the reason why I spent hours with Luke catching fireflies in mason
jars. I wanted to light up the blanket where Mary-Beth and I made love the
first time. I remember this look of
bliss on her face after that, and now I remember why I survived that bomb. She needed me, and dammit I was going to be
everything she needed. Even if I was only half of the man I used to be.
Amanda Lanclos is from a small town right outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Most of the time you will find her with her nose in a book, or blogging on her blog. She is an avid reader, and never expected to write a book. One day she was inspired and her first novel was written. She has been married to her amazing husband for three years. Together they have a beautiful daughter, and two very bad fur-babies. During College Football season you can find her screaming for her Tigers.