“Hey, hot stuff!”
Jason’s handsome face appeared on my phone in a slightly stuttered video. The sound was distorted at times and not synced, but it was such a relief to see his smile.
“Not so hot anymore,” I laughed, turning the phone’s camera to where my hand smoothed over my rounded belly. I raised the camera back to my face and glared at him. “I blame you for this.”
“It better be mine,” he laughed. His beautiful smile warmed me to my toes, making my heart swell and ache at the same time. He looked so good. Relaxed for a change. His tousled hair longer than I’d seen it in a long while, not the high and tight he kept when he was stateside.
“Well if you hadn’t been gone, you’d know for sure, now wouldn’t you,” I teased. It was early morning here in Georgia. But the sun there in the desert was high and sharp.
Just three more days, I told myself feeling the choke of tears as my coffee sat cooling on the lonely kitchen table. I wouldn’t cry in front of him. It only made him feel worse.
Just three more days. It was my mantra. I’d been saying it to myself for the duration, just one year, just three months, one month, one week. Three days.
Three days. He was almost home.
Suddenly a loud boom echoed through the connection, startling me and sending my heart racing as he ducked and scanned the area. I could hear debris hitting the ground and shouts in the background. Then the video stuttered and the phone view skittered to the ground like old war movie footage.
“Jason!” I yelled, my hand flying to the earbud as more blasts drowned out any noise other than my heart pounding in my ears. “Jason!” I jumped to my feet, my stomach a churning mass of sick fear.
Then the phone righted itself and his face appeared. I nearly cried at the sight. His glasses were gone. That that glorious smile was gone too. His blue eyes were wide. Soldiers raced across the screen, crouched and shouting. Dust and smoke choked the air which five seconds ago had been a perfect summer-blue sky.
“Sorry, babe,” he coughed, his scruffy jaw set in hard determination. “Gotta run.”
I heard someone call his name and he turned to wave at them.
“But…” I squeaked.
He put his fingertips to his lips and then pressed the kiss to the phone as he said. “I love you, babe. More than 3000. See you soon!”
And just like that the line went dead. I stared at the phone feeling the icy rush of panic spread over me as I sank to the chair.