"You never heard the story?" Marcia smiled as Sadie shook her head. "Tell her Wendy, it's a good one."
I shrugged, eating my salad in the hospital cafeteria with my two friends. It was a good story and I didn't mind telling it.
"It's one of those stories that are too weird not to be true," Marcia chuckled. She was a light colonel in her mid-forties, and chief pharmacist there at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii. I was younger at 27 and Sadie might have been a bit older than me, but not by much.
"Really?" Sadie smiled politely, because that's what captains do when a superior officer talks, friends or not. She worked in Ob/Gyn and more to the point, Sadie was my Obstetrician.
I was a captain as well, one of the ophthalmologists at the big hospital, and very close to having my first baby. I'd just passed the eighth month mark and very much looking forward to delivering, believe me. The first three months I'd been sick, the middle three had been wonderful, but these last three were killing me.
"I have to get going." Marcia stood up. "Department head meeting." She rolled her eyes and we smiled sympathetically.
"So?" Sadie grinned at me after the colonel had left. "What's the story with you and Greg?"
"Okay, okay..." I sighed. "The short version, cause I'll have to pee in about five minutes."
It seemed like I always needed to pee then and it was probably the thing I hated most about being pregnant, even more than the backaches I got sometimes.
"Well, Greg and I knew each other in high school. I mean, he was my boyfriend. We'd known each other since, I don't know 5th grade probably. But we were never friends really, it was just a small town. So we'd noticed each other as we got older, but he had his girlfriends and I had my boyfriends. But finally our senior year in high school we were both free, if you like, and he asked me out. We went to our prom together and everything..."
"Did you guys ... You know..." She wiggled her eyebrows with a grin.
"Yeah," I giggled. "Just once though, and yeah, we did it on our Prom night. I was a total virgin and I don't know how or why I let him ... Anyway, we weren't really serious or anything. I knew I wanted to be a doctor, so I was going to take off for college and Greg ... He didn't know what he wanted to do."
"So you weren't going to marry him or anything," Sadie said, keeping up with me.
"Yeah, exactly. We liked each other a lot, but it wasn't like we were crazy in love." I smiled at the thought.
"After I left for college we lost touch, really. I was studying my butt off and neither of us were much for phones or letters, so..." I shrugged. "Anyway, I was going to Hopkins and racking up a hundred grand in student loans every year, you know..."
"Oh yeah." Sadie made a face.
"I needed help and got the Army to cover me. You know the deal, sign up for Uncle Sam and they pay for it. So I got through medical school and got my funky greens, and ended up at Bragg. Brand new to everything, completely lost, but it was fun."
I shook my head remembering what it had been like as a brand new lieutenant, walking around a big army base in my bright new uniform. All those soldiers, young and old, big strong men training for war, and there they were saluting this small blonde woman. Little petite me, with breasts that seemed a fraction too big for my body, which made them perfect somehow, and a tight round butt wiggling above my smooth, toned legs. I'd been entirely too pretty for that place and I'd felt it, every salute was delivered with an inviting smile, like every guy there just wanted to get my panties off.
"Too hot there," she said.
"What? Oh ... Yeah," I agreed. "The humidity is the worst. Um, where was I? Oh ... About a year into it, I'd just put on captain, thanks to the needs of the army, which was nice."
"Uh-huh." Sadie smiled. Doctors got promoted to captain quick as incentive, but we stayed there forever because our time in service was weak compared to the regular army. It was still a nice payday though.
"Anyway, so I'm doing my residency, looking at eyes and fixing aneurisms and clots, mostly from all the jumps. I swear, most of those guys landed on their heads instead of their feet. Some retinals from time to time, plus I had a lot of nights in the ER, they always tapped me for weekends too, like someone hated me."
I gave my friend a wry smile and she chuckled.
"And one day, in walks this staff sergeant and it's him ... I swear, I mean I just stood there, you know, and Greg's got like a big bag of ice taped across his face, because he took a tumble off his bike. Hit his eye on the handlebar. Didn't hurt him much, just some burst blood vessels, but it scared the heck out of him anyway."
Sadie smiled and I giggled at the memory.
"And it was like those eight years never happened. I mean, it was weird. You know how you see someone you were close to after a long time and after you talk for ten minutes there's just nothing left?"
"Uh-uh." I bit my bottom lip. "We started talking and didn't stop until, oh God, about midnight."
"He was in your office til midnight?" she teased me.
"No, no ... I mean, we went out, we had to, and I brought him home and..." I sighed. "He kissed me and that was it. It was my second time, that night. I mean, my second time ever and with the same guy, but nine years later. The only thing that changed, besides being older, was that we were both ready, you know? I mean, we weren't kids, we're adults now, and so we just fell into it."
"Fell in love," Sadie sighed as well.
"He was my first and only," I laughed. "I spent eight years in college and med school, then a year in the army with nothing more than a kiss on the cheek after a date. Like part of me knew. Greg was the only man I wanted to make..." I lowered my voice, leaning over my big tummy, " ... to make love to and I knew I'd see him again. Like ESP or something."
"Fate," Sadie nodded. "God, that's romantic."
"Yeah," I widened my blue eyes. "I can't believe it sometimes, but there it is. We did it that night and it was great and a month later we were getting married."
"Too bad he's just an enlisted man though," Sadie said.
"Just an enlisted man?" I bit off my temper, knowing my friend hadn't meant it the way it sounded, but I heard that a lot.
Some of the other officers here were less than friendly towards me for just that reason. Like it made me suspect somehow, but those were the people who forgot all too easily just who was dying in places like Iraq. But I tried not to think about that too much. I just prayed that Greg was watching his butt close while he was deployed.
"I mean, it's hard for you guys." Sadie reached out to touch my hand. "You know what I mean, Wen."
"Yeah," I nodded, softening my eyes.
I'd taken a hard time for marrying an enlisted man and everyone from my department head to the commanding general at Fort Bragg had tried to talk me out of it. Just few years ago they could have just said no, called it fraternization, and ordered us not to see each other. But it was a new army, or so they said.
That was why I was at Tripler and my husband was ostensibly stationed at Bragg, and now deployed to the Gulf with his Ranger battalion. As soon as we'd gotten married I had orders to Hawaii, like I'd take my punishment a little easier if it was served up in paradise. That was the army's solution to fraternization problems, separate duty stations for the husband and wife.
I hadn't seen Greg in almost nine months, not since he'd left me with a going away present growing in my belly. But we were both happy and excited about that, believe me. We'd been working on getting me knocked up and barefoot for eighteen months. I had just three more years in the Army and I was out. Greg wanted to stay in, he loved being a Ranger and he was good at it. I could be an army wife, and there were always openings for civilian doctors. We'd do okay and I'd get a serious pay raise.
"I just can't believe you went eight years without sex!" Sadie laughed, leaning over the table.
"Yeah," I laughed too. "It was hard, but ... Oh, no pun intended!"
She was giggling at me and we both knew how hard it was being a woman in the army, even for officers, but I imagined being enlisted was even worse. And being attractive was a liability, really, as Sadie would well know. If I was in civilian clothes, just having a drink at the Officers Club on a large base, like Bragg ... God, the things men said. Most of them assumed I was some poor captain's wife, out hunting cock while her man was deployed.
And I didn't even want to remember college ... I'd come close three or four times to letting myself go, sleeping with a cute guy. But there was something inside me, a voice or whatever, telling me to be patient, to wait for the right man. I was so glad I'd listened because I could look my husband in the eye and happily tell him that he was my only love, the only man who'd ever been between my legs and inside my womb. I think that made me special and he was proud of me for it.
"Hey, Sadie ... I wanted to ask you something." I felt somewhat nervous, but I had to ask her. It was the real reason I'd wanted to have lunch with her that day.
"Sure, what is it?"
"Uh ... Is it still okay for me to have sex?" I smiled nervously.
"Sex?" Sadie narrowed her eyes, soft and brown and looking into mine. She was black and pretty and instantly focused, because Sadie was both my friend and my doctor.
"Yeah, intercourse," I nodded, telling myself not to blush.
.... There is more of this story ...