The Girl Who Cried War
Author: coritherien

Chapter 20
Sunset

May 10th, 2008

Erin,” I breathed.

Romano had said it, and instantly, a whole lifetime worth of memories came rushing back.  It made me dizzy and I staggered for a moment.  I put a hand to my throbbing temples, but the ache made me smile. 

“I remember,” I said, and then I shouted it.  I glanced at poor Billy, who looked utterly dumbfounded.  I imagined he missed his whiskey flask something fierce.

“I am Private Nathaniel Richardson.  My parents are Emily and Samuel Richardson.  I have a younger sister, Carla.  And I am head-over-heels in love with Erin O’Malley.”

My stomach did flips as insignificant blurbs of memory surfaced.  Some of them concerned the army—how was Flanny, still a prick?  What ever happened to Ricardo and Swanson?  Some were of my family—my mother’s ornate house, my father’s spare room dedicated to army memorabilia.

But most of them were about Erin.

I saw that blessed little clearing by the lake house, the two of us lying amongst daisies and dandelions.  Now we were dancing at prom, carefree and happy.  Now she was strumming on that sweet acoustic, smiling up at me.

Now we were saying goodbye on that damned late summer day.  We were in her backyard and it started to rain lightly.  She turned and sought coverage, but I pulled her to me and we danced to a song only we could hear.  By the time we were done, her hair was matted to her head, her makeup running, and I had to leave. 

I punched the air in triumph.  I remembered my life, and what a life it was.

Erin approached me slowly, as if afraid I would disappear.  The sun was setting behind me, and her face was illuminated in pink and orange.  I wanted so badly to run to her and sweep her into my arms—after a year of being apart, seeing her before me was a miracle—but I let her come to me.  To her, I was back from the dead.  That would take some time.

She reached me, and placed a trembling hand against my heart.  “There’s one thing I want to check,” she whispered, avoiding my eyes.

I grinned.  “Let me guess,” I whispered back, lifting her chin.  “The birthmark that God gave me to tell me I was meant for you?”

She gasped, and her tears sprang anew.  She nodded.  Shamelessly, I pulled the seat if my pants down a little bit.  There it sat like it always had, an inch below where my waistband should be.  A tiny, distorted heart, whose point swirled into a lowercase ‘e’.

Erin traced it, as if to verify, and then looked into my eyes.  There I found a relief so strong I lost my breath.  In her eyes, I found the love I’d missed so ardently for nearly a year now, the love that neither amnesia, nor a bomb, could erase. 

She wrapped her arms around my neck and I buried my face in her hair and we clung to each other as if a tidal wave of sorts was threatening to break us apart.  Finally, I withdrew, but kept her close to me with a hand on the small of her back.

She knew the question, and I knew the answer, before I even asked aloud. 

“Marry me?”

 

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