He’s Back

by Heidi Hodges

The M&M’s I had dropped into my mouth shot out again and ricocheted off my desk when I read the text message.

I was sitting alone at my desk. The open window let in the night breeze that smelled like pine from the trees across the street. Clothes I had meant to pick up lay crumpled on my floor and bed. It was late and the rest of my family was asleep, but I had an addiction to surfing the web at night. I wasn’t looking for anything specific so I always found something interesting.

The buzz of my phone on the desk shocked me a bit out of my web stupor, but that was nothing compared to the shock of what the message said.

He was home.

He was home and he was letting me know in a text message. You’d think that he would call me, would want to hear my voice. But then, you’d also think he would have called me as soon as he knew he was leaving that place in the desert… as soon as he was at the airport… as soon as he touched back down in New Jersey. But he got all the way back home until he messaged me. Waited until now to tell me he would be at my house in a few minutes.

I wasn’t ready for this. How could I deal with him now? After four months of being on my own. Alone. The first month of feeling empty, like I was missing my third arm or something. I could function, sure, but something felt wrong. The second month I got used to living without that extra limb. The third month I stopped writing everyday. I wrote only twice a week after that. It was too weird feeling like I was writing to myself. He didn’t seem to notice either way. I had only gotten three letters from him in the whole four months. I had only gotten two phone calls… the last one being about him having Joe pick him up at the airport instead of me. About how he wanted to spend his first day back with his friend instead of his girlfriend. Who he’d been dating for one and a half years. Who thought about him everyday he was in boot camp.

I guess that should have been a give-away. How do I have the right, after that, to be surprised that he didn’t even call to let me know he was coming home? His own girlfriend.

My phone buzzed again. He was at my house.

I was numb. I don’t really remember what happened. I answered the door and there he was, looking the same, smelling like cigarettes again already. And then he was gone. I was alone again after 15 minutes with the boy I waited four months for.

He had only come by to take back his heart and his XBOX.

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