Although I have written this story to stand alone, you may want to read my first submission, A Soldier's Story, to get the historical perspective.
I was born in November of 1969 in a small town in Vermont. At the time of my birth, my father was fighting a war in Southeast Asia. He had no idea that I had been born; in fact he didn't even know mom was pregnant. So when he got home from the war, he had a little surprise waiting for him, Terrance, Jr.
At the time, Mom was living with Grandma. Uncle Freddy (who later married Grandma) lived close by. Uncle Freddy was a plumber and could build and fix anything in the world.
Dad had been drafted into the U.S. Army in September of 1968. When Dad came home for Christmas leave, he and mom ran off to Maryland and got married. They got back two days later and my Grandma and Uncle Freddy wanted to kill them, but they came to accept the marriage. This was especially so later, when Mom announced that she was pregnant.
My Dad didn't have any family. His Father had died when he was very young and his Mother passed away shortly before he was drafted. Grandma and Uncle Freddy had taken care of him when his Mother worked and when she died they were his only family.
Dad told us that he had been in love with Mom for as long as he could remember. She was two years older than him but that never bothered them. When he was drafted, they decided that they would marry. Grandma and Uncle Freddy wanted them to wait, but they couldn't.
Mom told us that Dad came home the weekend before he shipped out to Southeast Asia. About 6 weeks later, Mom announced to Grandma and Uncle Freddy that she was expecting.
The strange thing was that Grandma was also pregnant. At the time Grandma was only 37 years old. It seems that she and Uncle Freddy wanted to start a family. They were married a short time later.
Grandma gave birth in August of 1969 to a beautiful little blonde girl they named Sally. Thus, when I was born my "Aunt" Sally was three months old.
Mom and Grandma ran a restaurant in the city not far from us. They were both graduates of a culinary institute in Chicago. They moved here and bought the restaurant just before Sally was born.
Sally and I grew up together. Grandma and Uncle Freddy lived two houses away. Mom and Grandma would take care of us while the other one was at the restaurant.
We went to nursery school and Elementary School together. We also went to the same high school, but were only in a few classes together.
I was closer with Sally than with any of my siblings. I had two younger sisters and one brother; Sally had one younger brother. We treated them like the little children that we knew they were.
When Dad got out of the Army, he attended a university close by, finally getting his doctorate in Astro-physics.
Uncle Freddy said, "We always knew that Big Terry had his head in the clouds but now his head is in the stars."
Dad went on to teach at the State University eventually ending up a full professor.
When Sally and I were eight years old, her father, Uncle Freddy was killed in a car accident. Sally and I cried in each other's arms for weeks. Grandma, and Mom and Dad sold their houses and bought one big enough for all of us. Then, we were all together.
Mom died from a brain tumor, when I was fourteen, The loss really destroyed me. I became unruly and started to run with an ugly crowd. I wouldn't listen to anyone and school was of no importance.
For about a year, I was uncontrollable. I don't know what would have happened to me, if it hadn't been for Sally. She never gave up on me. Finally, with her help I found my way home and realized that I wasn't being punished by some malevolent god.
I got back to school and my studies and after graduation went to a University out of state. Sally went to the university Dad taught at. For the first time Sally and I were separated.
We missed each other terribly, talking on the phone as much as possible. Actually, until Dad had a fit about the phone bill and then we would hold off for a while.
Sally would write letters to me all the time. The letters would go on for pages. But, I am the worse letter writer in the world. I probably wrote one letter to five of hers.
At the university, I dated some and then met a beautiful blonde girl named Eileen. We dated for a couple of years. She came home with me a few times. Eileen and Sally got on wonderfully. A year after I graduated, we married.
Sally majored in marketing and went on to get an MBA. She got a job with a major marketing company and quickly rose through the ranks.
At school she met a really nice guy named Erik and they married after she graduated. The four of us got along wonderfully. We often double dated and even went on vacations together.
I had studied mechanical engineering and went to work for a major international construction company. As part of my job, I did quite a lot of traveling.
Eileen was an elementary school teacher. Being away so much did nothing for my marriage. Eileen finally told me that she had met someone else. He was also a teacher and was always there for her. We separated and divorced. It was rather amicable and we actually remained friendly.
After the divorce, I threw myself into my work, as I look back I think that I was affected by the divorce more than I would admit. I didn't see much of my family and nothing of Sally. I thought that she has Erik and didn't need to worry about me. I spent much of my time traveling all over the world and lost touch with everyone.
About two years later, I was on an extended stay in London, working on the Thames Barrier. It was interesting work and kept me busy.
I did a little dating, nothing steady. I reasoned that I didn't want to get into a relationship and ruin it because I would never be home. In reality, I just wasn't interested in any of the women that I met.
I had been in London for about six months, when I got a phone call from Sally. She was in London on a business conference and wondered if I would be free to meet sometime in the next few days. She sounded different. She was distant and cold.
Of course, I said I would be free any time she wanted. I wanted to see her that night, but she put me off and we set a date for two days later.
I sat down and it hit me, she was hurt and angry that I had cut off all contact with her after my divorce. I had been only thinking about myself and not about anyone else. I felt terrible and decided that I would try to make it up to her while she was here.
Two days later, we met for tea. I couldn't believe what I saw. Sally was dressed in a very austere dark suit. She was not wearing any make-up. Usually she never needed it as her natural coloring was, in my mind, beautiful. Now, however, she looked pale, almost washed out. Her hair was pulled back in a severe bun. She looked at least ten years older.
What had happened to that free easygoing, happy girl that I knew and loved?
As I approached her, she held out her hand. We SHOOK HANDS. No hug, no kiss, we just shook hands. She sort of smiled and said "Terrance, it's so good to see you, how have you been?"
"TERRANCE???" ... Sally had never caller me Terrance, not even when we fought as children. I was in shock, I had hurt her more than I realized.
We sat down at a table and ordered tea. As soon as the waiter left, I said, "Sally, I am so sorry. I have been a complete bastard and I only thought of myself, I..."
"Terrance" she interrupted and said, "There is nothing to apologize about, I fully understand. You went through a divorce and needed time. It's okay."
The tea came and we made small talk about the family. Nothing personal, nothing intimate, nothing close.
I tried to ask her about her life, how Erik was and what she was doing in London. She evaded all of my questions. Just talking about the flight, the weather and the conference.
After an awkward half hour, she told me that she had a meeting to go to and had to leave. Again we shook hands and parted. I didn't know how long she would be in London and I didn't even know where she was staying. Her answer to my question was "Not too far from here."
I was devastated. I had lost Sally. I had thrown away the most wonderful relationship I had ever had. I had hurt her so badly. I walked back to my apartment in a daze. That night was just about the worst of my life. I couldn't sleep. I just kept pacing around my apartment all night. I hadn't felt this bad over my divorce.
I finally decided that I was not going to accept this situation and I was going to make amends for what I did. I would at least try to make thing better. Maybe I couldn't get things back to where they had been, but I was going to try.
I made some phone calls and found the conference she was attending and then found where she was staying. As the conference was only on for three more days, I had to work fast. I called my job and took the rest of the week off.
First I called her room. Sally answered, she was surprised to hear me. She told me that she had an important business dinner to attend and we wouldn't be able to meet me tonight. She was not sure if she would be able to see me before she went back to the states. But, it was nice to see me and wished me well.
I decided to stake out her hotel and even if I had to kidnap her, I would find a way to talk to her, to try to make things better.
At around 8:00 pm I was walking to her hotel. I saw Sally come out of a restaurant, alone. She was walking very straight and deliberately, like someone who had a bit too much to drink and didn't want anyone to know.
.... There is more of this story ...