This War Called Love | Teen Ink

This War Called Love

June 14, 2011
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shayneausten BRONZE,
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Favorite Quote:
Whether you think you're good or you think you're not, you're right. -anonymous

Mike Banks was brave. He’d always been brave. When his wife was delivering their only son into the world, he didn’t pass out. When he was saying his last words to his dad before he died, he didn’t cry. When his daughter first started dating, he didn’t go into early mid-life crisis; because he was brave. But nothing could have prepared him for this.

His son Will was joining the US Army. This was the scariest thing Mike had ever been through. Every time he looked at his son, proudly telling another friend about his acceptance, he wanted to hug him and tell him not to go, to stay… and live.
Mike’s brother was in the military. He was in Vietnam when Mike was just a young boy. Every day was a new prayer for his brother. “Dear God, please keep Jeff safe today.”
Jeff died when he was only twenty four. Mike was devastated and he never really got any better, until he met Rachel. She was the only one who could get him out of his shell and never back in.
After Will was born, Mike’s world shifted irreversibly. He never wanted what happened to his dear brother to happen to his son.
But it was happening and there wasn’t anything in Mike’s power to stop it.
In a week, Will was going to be shipped off to Qatar. His stay was for four years, but that seemed like an eternity for Mike and Rachel. Rachel cried every night in bed, but she was proud; proud of her son, proud of her country. Mike couldn’t find anything to be proud of.
On the day Mike had dreaded for six months, his daughter Amy was crying softballs. Rachel was crying basketballs. But Mike couldn’t let one tear escape. If he did, his son would see that face for the next four years, and Mike would be ashamed.
The Banks were at the small airport in their home town of Mt. Shasta, California. The usually hot July sun was hidden behind black storm clouds. What a nice picture for this day, Mike thought sourly. He was sure it was going to be a rainy flight, and an even wetter ride home.
His son boarded the plane, waving to his family. Mike finally let the first tear drop, when Will couldn’t see it. It was that tear that made Mike decided that he wouldn’t pray this time. God obviously didn’t want to save Jeff, so why would He save Will? He wouldn’t, and Mike didn’t want disappointment again. He knew Rachel would be praying, and so would Amy, but Mike didn’t trust God anymore. He would let his women have hope, and maybe it would save their son.
The ride back home was long. His wife and daughter were in the back, embracing and sobbing. Mike looked straight ahead and tried to think about driving. Raindrops plopped on the windshield. The sky was crying too.
They got home and all was quiet. The girls obviously didn’t feel the need to cry anymore; but Mike needed to be alone, to let the tears fall in private. He trudged off to his room and sank to the floor, letting the sobs come.

That night was quiet too. They ate in silence. Occasionally Amy would sniffle and Rachel would let a quiet sigh slip out, but other than that, the only sound was forks on plates. Mike didn’t know what to say. He knew he should say something wise, fatherly. But the only thing he wanted to do was go back in his crying stage. So he did nothing, absolutely nothing.
They didn’t have dessert that night; anything sweet would remind them of old times. Rachel pulled out an old scrapbook of Will when he was young and sat on the tan couch with Amy. They laughed, they cried, and Mike watched from a recliner in the corner. He didn’t think about Will. He thought about his wife. How beautiful she was, and how strong she was for her daughter.
Finally it was time for bed. Amy said her “I love you’s” and slipped off to her room. Mike and Rachel went to their room and quietly got ready for bed.
Rachel finally said something, after the long, silent night. “Aren’t you proud?”
WHAT??? What was she saying? OF COURSE Mike wasn’t proud. He was devastated! He looked at Rachel angrily.
She continued. “I mean, Will is such a strong boy. I’m so proud that he’s decided to do something meaningful. I know it’s sad, honey, but we had to let him go. It’s what he wanted to do… for his country.”
“Mhhmm…” Mike said absently.
Rachel didn’t go on. She got in bed and turned off the lamp.
* * * * * * * * * *
The next two weeks were painful and long. Amy didn’t go see her boyfriend, Rachel didn’t go to the office, and Mike didn’t do…. Anything. Well unless you call moping around, something.
Rachel didn’t bring up the proud subject again. She knew Mike needed a little time to himself. Remembering the way he acted when his father died, she knew exactly how to handle it. Only, it didn’t last nearly this long. She did ask him if he was praying for Will and his answer was “I haven’t gotten around to it.” That ended that discussion.
Rachel was sympathetic to Mike. Of course he would act this way. His only brother died in the army. But was he really this prone to deadness?
Mike was heartbroken and lifeless. He spent all his time in the living room, staring blankly at the TV. This went on for 2 weeks. He barely ate anything and Rachel was worried about him. She watched her husband all day and night, hoping for some flicker of life in his expression, but after two weeks of nothing she decided to give up. He’d come around on his own time… hopefully it wouldn’t take too long.
On Monday, Rachel went out for coffee with her sister, Kristen.
“I don’t see what’s gotten into him. I mean, when his dad died, Mike was heartbroken. He moped around for a week, but he started trying. He was fine after two weeks.” Rachel vented, sipping her coffee.
“Maybe you’re giving him too much credit. Did he really get over it so fast?” Kristen reasoned.
“I’m sure he did. He was hurting inside, of course, I expected that. But, he pretended it was all ok, for us.”
“Yes, that’s true, but this is his own son.”
“Kristen, I miss Will so much. This is the longest we’ve ever been without him.”
“I do too. But listen, Rachel, if you want Mike to get better, you’ve got to lie off. I know it’s hard, but he obviously doesn’t want to be pressured into it.”
“I will. You know what? When Jeff died, Mike prayed… he told me he hasn’t prayed for Will yet. Maybe that’s what he needs- a little prayer.”
* * * * * * * * *
Amy went to church every day. She spoke to her counselor, to their pastor, to her girlfriends on the phone, but she never got any answers. She missed her brother, but that’s not what she needed answers for. Her dad was losing hope. She could see it every time she looked at him; his eyes were dead.

She remembered when she was a little girl. Her father’s eyes were the perfect shade of blue and they sparkled with love. Love for his family, love for God; Mike was the center of love in their family. When Granddad died, Amy was twelve and she could tell that her dad was a little bit lost. His eyes lost its sparkle for a while, but they regained it. Not fully, and Amy still wasn’t sure why.
Monday, after her mom got home, Amy was done cooking dinner. Her family had another quiet dinner, and Mike excused himself from the table.
When he was out of hearing range, Amy said, “Mom, what’s wrong with dad?”
Rachel smiled sadly, “I’m not sure, hon. I was talking to Aunt Kristen today and we think he’s lost hope… and God.”
Amy gasped. “No, that can’t be it. Dad still loves God.”
“I’m not saying he doesn’t, I’m just saying I think he doesn’t believe in prayer. He won’t pray for Will. But you know, his brother died in the army. I wonder if that’s why he hasn’t been praying.”
“Well, you should talk to him about it.”
“Your right. I will.”
Amy kissed her mom on the cheek and hurried off to bed. The next day, she was going to see her boyfriend after this long time. It would be nice to see Matt. The only thing she had longed for the past couple weeks were his arms around her, telling her it would be alright. She was surprised though, he hadn’t called yet. Matt loved Will like a brother, but he said he didn’t think he would see him to his plane. He said it wouldn’t be right and that it was more of a family occasion. Amy insisted he was part of the family and should come but Matt politely declined. She hadn’t talked to him since.
Every time she was with Matt she was sure he would propose- at the lake with the family, lying under the stars, at her birthday party- but he never did. She was sure he would get to it soon- they had been dating for two years and were more in love than ever.
As she was making lunch for her and Matt’s picnic the next day, Amy was thinking about all these things. Slowly, panic started rising in her chest. What if he’s going to break up with her? Maybe that’s why he didn’t want to see Will off. Will could practically read her boyfriend’s mind.
Amy gripped the counter to keep herself from fainting.
Oh God, what am I going to do? I don’t think I’ll be able to stand it! Help me, Lord. I’m falling into panic. Calm my heart. Give me your peace.
Instantly, the panic was gone, replaced with solid reassurance. Of course, God would make it work out, His will be done.
She happily finished making the lunches and waited outside. The day was nice and warm, perfect for a romantic picnic in the park. She sat on the grass in her front yard and closed her eyes. She enjoyed the feeling of the warmth spreading through her- caused very little by the sun and more by her excitement over seeing Matt.
She heard the rumbling of Matt’s old pickup coming down the road and she could feel every nerve in her body come alive. She stood up and wiped the grass off her jeans. He stopped in front of her house, got out of the truck, and practically ran to Amy. He picked her up off the ground into a cradle and kissed her. She giggled and kissed him back, taking in the smell of his skin. He put her down and gazed deeply into her eyes. She smiled and looked away shyly.
“Are you ready to go?” he asked, and she rejoiced at the sound of his voice.
“Anywhere with you.” She said.
Matt’s heart jumped. Amy was so beautiful; golden hair, bright blue eyes, a beautiful smile, and a warm heart. She was truly blessed with a wonderful family and a soul for God. He didn’t deserve such a lovely creature, and yet she loved him and trusted him. Well he wouldn’t let her down… not like the last time.
They drove to the park and set up their blanket in a quiet remote area that was her favorite place to hide away with him. Amy lied on her stomach and took in the sweet smell of the grass. She felt Matt lie down next to her and her heart skipped a beat. He traced her spine and she smiled. Looking up at him, she found only love in his eyes and she relaxed, realizing she had let herself get tense again.
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful man you have given me. I am much too blessed than I deserve. Keep giving me peace.

Matt found himself forgetting why he wanted to go out with Amy today. He lost his big plan while looking in her deep, ocean blue eyes. Only when she looked away and got their lunch out did he remember- and with the remembrance came a full scale panic attack. His breathing quickened and his palms sweated. Come on, Matt. Be a man. Do it before she makes you forget again. Just like we rehearsed.
He reached out and stroked Amy’s blonde hair. She flushed and smiled at him, laying her head in his hand. Trust. Matt lost his resolve.
He looked away and began eating the sandwich she made for him. You are a coward. Amy is nothing like Cameron. She’s sweet, charming, innocent, and loving. Cameron was none of those things. Just get over your pride and do it.

He cleared his throat and looked at her again. She was eating her sandwich with a frown on her face.
Amy was confused; he had turned away from her. She could see the fear in his eyes before he looked away. She could feel his gaze on her again. She could also feel the frown on her face but kept it there. Let him see how he hurt her.
Holding his breath, Matt gently tipped her face towards him so she would look at him. She did and he saw that he had hurt her.
“I’m sorry.”
“What’s wrong, Matt? Why did you turn away?”
“I was nervous.”
“About what?”
He didn’t answer. She looked confused. “Matt?”
Matt helped her stand up. He looked at her squarely in the eye and got down on one knee.
“Oh my gosh.” She said.
“Amelia Lynn Banks, I promise I will love you and protect you forever. Will you marry me?”
Amy gasped. She put her hands on her mouth and felt a tear roll down her cheek. Then she realized he was still on the ground and waiting for her to answer
“Oh, yes! Yes, yes, yes, a million times yes!”
Matt stood up and she wrapped her arms around his neck. “I love you!”
“Forever.” He promised.

* * * * * * * * * *

Mike was sitting on his recliner, staring at the TV without seeing the show. He didn’t know whether it was a horror film or a comedy, a sitcom or a drama series. And frankly, he didn’t care. He didn’t care about anything anymore. Life was practically meaningless to him.

He couldn’t put his finger on it, but there had to be some reason for him to still stay alive. Many times he had had suicidal thoughts. Rachel was worried he needed to see a shrink but he refused. If he wasn’t going to tell her what was wrong with him, why would he tell a complete stranger?

And there was his reason: his beautiful wife and daughter that he cared for. He couldn’t leave them. Besides Will would come home eventually; he hadn’t died…yet. So there was still reason to hope, but Mike didn’t really believe it. He didn’t feel like getting up and living. He felt like sitting in the recliner and look at the TV. So he did… endlessly.

Rachel came in the room and looked at her husband. Many times she had looked at him and felt pride. This man was hers. He was so handsome and strong. He was brave and loyal and caring. She couldn’t help but love the man sitting in the recliner, even if he was sulking. Suddenly, the phone rang.
“Hello?” she answered
“Hi mom, is dad home?” Amy answered
Where else would he go? Rachel thought to herself. “Yes, he’s here.”
“Ok, don’t let him leave. And you don’t leave either. Stay home and wait for me. Promise?”
“Ok, I promise. What’s going on?”
“I’ll tell you when I get there.” She said excitedly. “Love you mom, bye!”
“Bye, Amy.” She said, hanging up.
Rachel wondered what could be up. Apparently, so did Mike.
“Was that Amy?”
“Ya, she has something to tell us. She said not to leave.”
Mike frowned, just barely, but enough to make Rachel’s heart flutter- this was the first time he’d shown emotion in two weeks.
“Hmm, I wonder what she could be up to.” He wondered, straightening his face to the same, sullen expression he’d gotten used to wearing. And as fast as her hope had come, it vanished even faster.
Rachel picked up her sewing she had started to get her mind off her distant husband. She waited on their couch for Amy and thought, not about Will or Mike or Amy, but about her mother, Deb. She missed her mom so much. They stopped talking since Dean died. Dean was her step dad that she never really liked. Her mother resented Rachel for not taking to her husband as much as she did.
They lived very far apart so Rachel rarely saw her mother. Even when she did see her, Deb was short tempered and no fun to be around. And its not that Dean was a bad guy; he just rubbed Rachel wrong somehow. Still she didn’t understand what it was, but she wished she’d given him a chance before he died, for her mother.

She heard Matt’s old pickup truck come into the driveway so she put away her knitting and sat patiently waiting. She glanced at her husband who was more alert than Rachel had seen in weeks.

Mike had no idea what Amy was planning, but he sure wasn’t going to miss it by being sullen. The ache in his chest almost completely disappeared. This little fact made him hopeful and strangely happy. He thought he’d forgotten what happy could feel like.

Amy walked through the door wearing a huge smile on her face. Matt was holding her hand proudly, but Mike could see fear in his eyes as well.

Mike liked Matt. He was a strong, independent, God fearing man of 23, two years older than Amy. He seemed to be in love with her. That fact scared and pleased Mike.
“Hey guys, what’s going on?” Rachel asked. The tightness in her voice Mike knew well. It was the tone she used when she was trying not to be impatient. He smiled inside.
Amy smiled even wider. “Well, Matt and I have some good news.” She paused for a beat, building suspense. “We’re getting married!” she squealed.
Rachel’s face went through a series of emotions in a matter of two seconds: surprise, sadness, joy, pride, and then back to joy. She jumped up and hugged her daughter so tight that Mike thought she was squeezing the life out of her. He decided to go through the motions, even though he was being crushed by sadness inside. He got up, managed a fake smile, and shook Matt’s hand.
“Congrats, my boy.”
“Thanks, Mr. Banks.”
“You can call me Mike.”
“Ok, thanks Mike.” Matt said with a smile.
Rachel was still squealing. “Oh, we have so many plans to make. I have to call your grandma. Uncle John and Aunt Deanne will be so pleased. I have to call everyone. When’s the date? Did you pick a date? Oh my, look at that ring. Matt honey, where did you get that ring? It must have cost you a fortune.” She gushed.
Matt cleared his throat uncomfortably, “It was my grandma’s.”
Amy’s face was faltering. “Mom sit down, there’s more.”
Rachel sat down and looked confused. Mike sat down too, and decided to listen- just in case.
Amy continued. “I am so happy and I can’t wait to be married to Matt, but there’s something that has to happen first.”
“What sweetie?”
“We want to wait till Will comes home.”
Mike sat in the recliner in shock. It was the first time someone had mentioned Will’s name since that night. He could feel the tears coming to his eyes as he said, “What if Will doesn’t come home?”
“Daddy, how could you say that?” Amy asked.
“Well it’s a possibility, isn’t it? It’s always a possibility.”
“Mike, that’s enough.” Rachel chided softly.
“Will you postpone the wedding if your brother never comes home? Will you not have a wedding?”
“Mike!” Rachel said louder. “That’s enough!”
Mike sat back in his chair and was silent. Rachel rarely yelled at him, but when she did she meant business.
“Oh sweetie, I think it’s a lovely idea.” Rachel said, trying to calm her down.
“Thanks mom.”
Matt chimed in. “I want to have Will be my Best Man.”
“That’s so sweet, Matt. But don’t you want to have your brother as your best man?”
He looked down. “I don’t think so.”
Rachel let it drop. This topic obviously upset Matt and she didn’t want to put a downer on the happy couple like her husband had.
“Well, Will’s not coming home for another two years. Are you sure you want to wait that long?”
Amy paused. “Yes, we’ve already talked about it. Waiting will give us plenty of time to plan the wedding without all the stress. Plus, I don’t think I could get married without my brother there for me.” A tear rolled down her face. Matt wiped it away and squeezed her hand.
“It’s ok, don’t cry.” He whispered low, so no one else could here. “I love you.”
And with those words, Amy knew she could live through anything.

That night in bed, Mike could tell Rachel was purposely ignoring him. She was angry about something, that much was obvious, but he didn’t know what he could have done wrong. This fact offended him. She had no right to be angry with him. He was hurting.

Rachel tossed and turned and couldn’t go to sleep. She prayed and the verse about not going to bed angry immediately popped in her mind. She groaned and turned to her husband.
“I’m so sick of your moping.”
He turned to her shocked. “Excuse me?”
“You have been sulking around the house for the past two weeks and I’m sick of it. You sit in your stupid recliner and stare at the TV thinking about how bad your life is. Don’t you see how blessed you are, Michael? Sure, our son is going to be gone for a couple years. Get over it and start living your life. It’s not like Will died.” She said noticing the bitter tone in her voice and the way Mike winced when she said those words.
A kind word turns away anger, Beloved
The Voice startled Rachel. But, God, he’s so stubborn!
Mike knew he was sulking. He didn’t care. He didn’t care if Rachel was mad at him or if Amy was worried. He was having a pity party for himself but he wasn’t about to stop. He glared angrily at his wife.
She continued, “You were very rude to Amy. She just got engaged and she was very excited but you had to go and ruin it for her by reminding all of us that our son is in the midst of danger. You were being utterly selfish and you need to apologize to your daughter.”
“Haven’t you even realized yet that she’s going to be leaving us too? Huh? Has that thought even crossed your mind? Not only is Will gone, but now my little girl is leaving me too. And it kills me!” Admitting this to Rachel wasn’t easy, but Mike was about to explode.
Rachel softened a little, “I know that. It is how life’s supposed to go, Michael. It’s not an excuse for you to be rude to your only daughter just because you are going to miss her. We got to raise our children and be responsible for them… for a time. Then they have to leave the nest and try their wings a bit. We don’t have to be cut off from their lives, we need to be there for them and give them wisdom. But it’s their responsibility now for their own lives and we just need to get over it and move on. Ok?”
Somewhere in Mike’s mind he knew Rachel was right, but he didn’t feel like acting on it. He wanted to keep sulking. So he turned his back to his wife and went to sleep.
* * * * * * * * *

For the next two months a lot of things changed, while others didn’t. Amy was at Matt’s a lot more deciding on a date and random wedding things, Rachel was putting all her energy into the wedding, and Mike sat on his recliner staring at the TV.

Amy and Will had started sending letters to each other. He replied back faithfully every week. She ranted and raved over how well he was doing and how glad he was that he signed up. Amy was careful though to say only certain things around her dad. Things about Will’s fear or a possible injury he got would set off his dad into another mini depression. She didn’t understand; he wasn’t acting like his son left for war, he acted like his son died in war. She loved her father of course, but she was over his attitude. She was getting married for heaven’s sake and he couldn’t even smile about it.

Sunday after church, she went out for lunch with her best friend, Lauren.
“That was a great sermon this morning.” Lauren commented. She was a very sweet, quiet woman of 20. They were best friends all through middle and high school and they shared everything. Lauren was one of the only people in the world Amy could trust and she loved her dearly. Lauren was married to a friend of theirs from high school and they were expecting a child. She was 4 months along and beginning to show.
“Yes, it was. Didn’t you love the part where he said God’s love is unconditional? No matter what we do, He’ll always love us. It’s truly amazing.” Amy replied.
“The passion in the pastor’s voice, it was an incredible example of love for God. I want to love like that, you know?”
“Yeah, I felt extremely guilty though.”
“Because of your dad?” Lauren guessed, and like always, she hit the nail on the head.
Amy blushed and didn’t answer. The waiter came and took their order. Amy ordered a Caesar salad- dressing on the side- and Lauren ordered a bacon cheeseburger with extra fries.
“Hungry?” Amy asked amused.
“Extremely, and I’m seriously craving French fries.” She said shaking her head and placing her hand over her belly protectively. “I’m afraid I won’t be the same size I was after I have this little baby. It’s like he’s absorbing everything I eat and I’m not!”
“Well I seriously doubt that. You’re eating for two now honey; nothing’s going to be the same for a couple months, especially not your diet.”
Lauren looked her over “And how would you know?”
“I’m an older sister remember?”
“Ya, by one year!”
“And I volunteer at the pregnancy center every once in a while.”
“Once in a great while.” Lauren muttered.
Amy laughed. “Can’t you just trust me? I took a child development class in high school. I’ve read several books about it. I’m getting my master’s degree in counseling pregnant girls, for crying out loud!”
“Ok, ok! I trust your judgment, oh wise one.” Lauren laughed. “So, how’s your mom?” she asked nonchalantly.
Amy’s face dropped. “Busy, you know, with the wedding and all.”
She seemed hesitant. “What about your dad?”
“Same as always, I guess.”
“Do you want to talk about it?” Lauren asked just as the waiter brought their food.
Amy waited till he was gone before she said, “He doesn’t talk to anyone. He sulks in his chair and pretends like he doesn’t know anything is going on. He ignores my mom when she walks in the room and I swear, every time she leaves the room he lets out a breath- like he’d been waiting for her to leave before he could breathe. I’m really worried, Lauren.”
“I’m sorry. Is there anything you can do?”
“No, mom said he’d come around on his own time, but who knows when that will be.”
“Well maybe, just maybe, your mom is wrong about this one.”
Amy muttered, “Oh heaven forbid.”
Lauren chuckled, “You should talk to him, plead with him, beg him if that’s what it takes. He can’t stay in this depression or it could kill him. Here,” she said pulling out a piece of paper and a pencil, “I’ll give you my psychologist’s phone number. Your dad needs help, Ames, and I think you’re the only one who can help him.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Amy approached her father with the number to Dr. Schmitt was crumbled in her hand, behind her back. She was nervous, but she believed that Lauren was right. He was hurting, and Amy couldn’t just stand around and let it kill him.
She walked in front of the TV, not turning around to see her dad’s confused and probably angry expression as she turned it off.
“Hey, I was watching that.” Mike complained.
“Dad, I need to talk to you.”
He folded his arms across his chest and looked at her impatiently. “About what?” He prompted.
“This has got to end.” She said matter-of-factly. “Daddy, you aren’t living anymore. I miss seeing the bright love in your eyes and hearing your happy laugh. Sure, Will’s gone for a while.” He winced. “But that doesn’t mean we all have to stop our lives and sulk.”
“I’m not sulking.” He said quietly, almost to himself.
“Yes, you are.” She put the piece of paper in his lap. “Please, call her. Dr. Schmitt is a highly recommended Christian psychologist. She can help you.” She saw his wary expression. “Please, Daddy, if you love me and mom, you’ll call her. Just give it a try; it would be far better than sitting in your chair like a dead man waiting for the grave.”
And with that, she walked off. Standing behind the corner where her father couldn’t see, Amy watched as he stared at the piece of paper for a minute. Then he sighed, grabbed his cell phone, and dialed the number.
His words sent a jolt of hope through Amy. “Hello, I’d like to make an appointment with Dr. Schmitt.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Mike thought about throwing the paper away. He didn’t want to talk to his wife, let alone a shrink. But the words his daughter had said struck a cord in him.
It would be far better than sitting in your chair like a dead man waiting for the grave.

He dialed the number and heard the chipper voice of the secretary.
“Thank you, Mr. Banks; we can get you in at 3 tomorrow afternoon. See you then!”
He hung up his phone and sighed again. His daughter was surely a force of nature. He knew she was standing behind the corner; she wasn’t the best spy known to man.
“Amy, sweetie, turn the TV back on please.” He asked patiently.
He heard her giggle, and couldn’t miss the joy in the sound. Strangely, he chuckled, but the sound was wrong. She turned his TV on. He shrugged and tried watching it for a change.

* * * * * * * * * *

Rachel got home from the store an hour later. She got out the stuff for dinner, when she noticed that Mike was sitting at the table, watching the little TV on the counter instead of at his recliner. He didn’t seem to notice she was home.
“Hi, honey.” She said warily.
He nodded, a little less than a response, but at least it was something.
“What are you doing in here?”
He looked away from the tv reluctantly, “Do you want me to go back to the living room?”
“No, no, I was just wondering. Sorry to disturb you.” She said. He turned away. Sorry to force you to talk to me, darling. She thought sourly.
Mike moved to the kitchen because sitting in his chair made him feel dirty and gross- like a dead man. He shivered and continued to watch the television.
As she made the casserole for dinner, Rachel thought about the early years. She met Mike in high school. He was the new student and football player from L.A. when they were both sophomores. No one had really paid any attention to him because they figured he was a stuck up Hollywood boy. Rachel, however, always liked to see the good in people and tried to be nice to him. His first day, she invited him to hang out with her friends at the first home Varsity football game of the year. He declined and said that he would rather hang out with the rest of the Jr. Varsity team. She kept at it, not knowing why at the time- though she knew perfectly well now.

At the game, she sought him out. He was pleasantly surprised and they left their group to hang out. They talked and Rachel realized that Mike was really a sweet, wonderful guy who was just trying to make friends. She told him that she didn’t judge him like the rest of the school did. Immediately, they became really good friends and by junior year, they were in a very serious relationship. He started going to church with her and her parents-something he hadn’t done in years since his brother’s death.

They broke up at the end of junior year and dated a few other people, but Rachel always had a soft spot in her heart for Mike. They picked up dating at the beginning of senior year and were inseparable. They’d been together since. Sure, they’d had some rocky times, but nothing could separate them- not even death. When Mike’s father died, Rachel held him. Not only was she carrying the only job, the kids, and the money, she was now carrying her husband. All that weight had made Rachel a strong woman with an even stronger heart. She quit her job at the bank once Mike started working again and began working full time at the pregnancy center and homeless shelter. Her husband said she was a saint at heart and no one could rein her in. Amy was the same way, so full of life and spirit. She loved helping people, especially teenage girls who got themselves in helpless situations. Her age and popularity in high school helped her a lot in dealing with these troubled teens. They trusted her with their problems and knew she had dealt with that not so long ago.
Amy was going to college to become a counselor for teenagers who are either addicted to something or raising a child in high school. She’s been in school for over two years and is working to get her Masters. Rachel wondered if she would start slacking on her studies planning the wedding, but Amy had always been very responsible.
The ring of the timer pulled Rachel from her reverie. She pulled the casserole out and glanced over at her distant husband. He had a faint smile on his lips, something Rachel hadn’t seen in a while. It was only a small smile, but it was enough to give Rachel a little hope; for not only her husband, but for their marriage as well.

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