Baggage – Part 19

“Why didn’t you just tell me you slept somewhere else?”

“I knew wherever you were, whatever you were doing was far more important than my own insecurities.”

I watch him breathe in and out, as if he accepts my answer as the absolute truth, which it is.  I know he won’t reply immediately, so I keep talking.

“I mean, if you have the courage to travel halfway around the world and face the very real and tangible fears of potential violence, I should be able to manage sleeping alone in our home, especially in this home that embodies security and warmth and peacefulness.”

“That’s saying a lot for a building.”

“This is not just any building.”  He kisses me.  The feeling that this is our home, not just his home, is a huge reason why our lives intermingled so perfectly so early into our relationship.  He offered up his home in the same way he relinquished his heart and his mind and his spirit and his entire being to me, to make us a single entity.

“So, where did you sleep?”  He lifts himself up suddenly, alerted.  “Wait a minute.  You didn’t sleep in the guest room did you?”

Oddly, it never occurred to me to sleep in the guest room.  In fairness, the guest room was the one room I probably only entered once a year, if that.  I’m sure the maid cleans it when she comes, but since I’m always at work, I see her almost as often.

“No.”  I’m not sure if he’ll be more alarmed by where I did sleep.  “I’m not sure what you’ll think is more weird: that I didn’t sleep in either bed, or that I slept in my tent.”

“How cold was it here while I was gone?”

“It snowed a couple times, but I didn’t camp exactly.  I set up my little tent in front of the downstairs fireplace.”

He smiles and looks at me with that, ‘Are you kidding?’ expression.

“I took the pillow off the couch and pulled several blankets out of the closet.  Why didn’t you put the letter where I would see it, like my nightstand?”

“Good question.”

“So, what does the letter say?”

He rolls over and grabs the letter from his side of the bed.  “You can read it.”

I start to open it, but stop about half way through tearing the seal on the envelope.

“Will you read it to me?”

“That’s not awkward even a little.”  I adore his wit and tone.

“Perhaps, but they are your words.”

I finish tearing the envelope and rest the folded letter against his arm.  “Please?”


“Did you mean whatever you wrote?”

“Of course.”

“Then those are your words.”  I hold the letter in place, unmoving, waiting for him to respond.

He takes the letter from my hand, unfolds it, looks at the words, and pauses, “This feels weird.”

I nestle into his arm, not looking him in the eye, hoping that will make the reading easier.

“My dearest Natalie,” he breathes deeply.  “You wouldn’t rather just read this yourself?”

“If you absolutely don’t want to read it, I will read it to myself.  But I suspect that there isn’t a single word in that letter that didn’t come from the truest, most beautiful space in your heart.”

“Mrs. McClure, you are a ridiculous romantic.”

“And you love me, Mr. McClure.”

“And I love the hell out of you.”

He takes a deep breath, and then another, and then reads the letter nonstop, even when his voice occasionally cracks.

“My dearest Natalie, I’ll be leaving in the morning, and by the time you read this letter, I will be somewhere between the absolutely perfect life we have together and the wicked outside world that divides us.

“I think about the difficulties we faced when we first met.  I felt certain my life was completely within my control, but then you shook up my world and made me come face to face with some damn scary shit that I thought was part of my past.  I never wanted to think about what happened in my life before you – not just in combat, but my faith in others – until you broke me open and helped me become a man worthy of a woman like you.

“As I write this, I want you to know that I am scared about travelling so far away.  I’m scared to leave you alone.  I’m scared of what awaits me.  I’m scared of how I will react.  I’m scared of what I will see at night when I close my eyes.”

On any given night, one or the other of us may awake in a panic, damp from nerves or moist from the sweat of excruciating nightmares. It happens.  While not often, it could become a recurrence if we don’t make time to bring the discussion into the light of day, both literally and metaphorically.  The number of nights when one of us faces our fears with our eyes closed may be limited, but we know how to get through the darkness, discuss the images in the light of day, and let them slip away into the past, again and again.  Thankfully I was swamped these past two weeks – too exhausted for the past – that I didn’t awake during his absence.  It sounds like he worried about the same.

“The one thing that does not scare me, though, is that for each difficult step which I will take, each moment that passes, they will bring me one step closer, one moment closer, to you.  In the end, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – that is more important to me than you.  I love the work I do, and although I am not able to share details about my trip, just know that you inspire me to do more than I ever thought I would.  I do think I am helping to change the world, and it’s all because you changed me.

“I will miss your face and your soft hair.  I will miss driving my body into yours each night.”

He tightens his arm around me and reaches his hand under my shirt.  Yep. I missed this.

“I will miss watching you wash the shampoo out of your hair and the soap off your skin in our shower.  I will miss the hiss when the fire cracks its last few embers at night and the sound of you snoring as I fall asleep.”

I know I snore, and I don’t think he’s ever minded.

“I will miss your face when you walk in the door every evening, and I will miss spanking you playfully when you are doing laundry.  I will miss your naked body.

“Mostly, I will miss your heart that allowed itself to be broken again and again so that I could spend the rest of my life piecing it back together.  My greatest fear in this journey is that if anything happens to me, that I would cause your heart to break again.

“Be strong, my love, as I will be strong to fight against every fearful image and sound (and every boring moment) until I can be back in our bed, in your arms, in your body, and by your side.”

I squeeze my hand between our bodies, and then between his thighs.  He inhales, whether from the gesture or the words, and I am reminded that love is the one possession that I continue to accumulate in abundance.

“I’ve said it before, but you have broken me open, and I will love you forever for it.  Sleep soundly my love, Daniel.”

I did sleep soundly, after he made two-weeks’ worth of love to me in a single night.


NEXT: On My Own – Part 20


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