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In the Crosshairs of a Mother's Eye

By Rebecca Crawford

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Copyright 2003 Rebecca Crawford





    Calvin came in the door.  “Where’s the best looking girl I know?”

     Liz was in the kitchen when she heard him.  “Try next door that’s where I saw her!”

     “I thought that was a guy?”

     Calvin came walking into the kitchen; grabbing Liz around the waist, and kissing her neck.  “Come and sit down, Liz.”

     Liz wiped her hands on a cup towel; turning to Calvin.  She could sense by his expression that something was brewing.  “Calvin what is it?”

     Calvin led Liz to the table; they both sat down.  Calvin reached over grasping Liz’s hands in his.  “Liz, we’re both in the military and because of that we can be called to active duty at anytime.  My special ops unit has been activated effective immediately.  There’s been a lot of resistance in the Middle East, we have to go in and do assessments and reconnaissance maneuvers.  I don’t know how long I’ll be on this duty assignment.  I really don’t know if I’ll be able to contact you or not, Liz.  We’re scheduled for formation at 0400 hours to proceed with covert tactics and course of action.  Then our team will deploy.”

     “Do you have any idea at all when you’ll be coming back?”

     “The upper command has given us no idea when the extraction will occur.  I won’t know anymore about it until in the morning after the briefing.”

     Liz knew this was always a factor that could occur for either of them, but she had just hoped it would be later, not now.  “Calvin, we don’t even have any pictures together.”

     “Well, then lets go get some made.”


     “Why not?”

     “Okay, at least I’ll have that while you’re away.”

     “I really don’t think we’ll be there long, Liz.”

     Liz squirmed in her chair.  “I have some news for you too.”

     “Oh?  What?”

     “You’re going to be a father.  I took a home pregnancy test today and it’s positive.  I’m about two weeks along now.”

     Calvin jumped up; pulling Liz out of her chair to him.  “Oh, Liz, I can’t believe it!  We’re going to have a baby?  I hope it’s a boy!”

     “And I hope it’s a girl.”

     Calvin laughed.  “Okay.  We get what we get.”

     “I wasn’t sure how you would react to this news, but I’m glad to see you’re excited.”

     “I’ve always wanted children, Liz.  I can’t believe I’m going to be a father!”

     “Wait, children?  How many were you expecting?”

     “Two or three.”

     “What!  Let’s have this one first then we’ll talk.”

     “Fair enough.”

     “Are we going to get pictures made or not?”

     “Yeah, yeah, I was just so excited.”

     Liz went over to the kitchen door leading down the hall.  “Come on! Time is short and I want a picture of your handsome mug.”

     Calvin and Liz went in and changed their clothes.  Liz pulled her hair up looking at Calvin in the mirror standing behind her.  “I just want you to know when you do go tomorrow, to remember just one thing.”

     “What’s that beautiful?”

     “That part of my heart is going with you.”

     Calvin grasped Liz; turning her around to face him.  “And part of my heart will be here with you.”  Calvin held Liz in his arms.  “I promise you, I will come home.”

     “That’s all I need to know.”

     They left for the Post Exchange (PX) picking out the portrait package they wanted.  Their pictures came out beautifully.  The photographer showed them their proofs on his digital screen, Liz and Calvin picked out the one they liked the most.  From there they returned home, ate dinner and then went to bed.

     Calvin pulled Liz over him.  “I’m going to make this night a night to remember.”

     “Weave your magic.”

     Calvin rolled over on top of Liz; pinning her to the bed.  He made every movement and every kiss count.  Liz couldn’t remember when their love making had exceeded the bounds of passion he was now giving her.

     They fell asleep that night feeling contentment between them that they had never felt before.

     The next morning came swiftly.  Liz awoke to Calvin’s dressing and gathering the rest of his gear.  “Don’t leave me alone too long.”

     “I’ll be home before you know it.”

     Calvin sat beside her on the bed cradling her in his arms.  “You’re my treasure, forever mine.”

     Liz’s eyes became wet.  “Be careful, Calvin.”

     Calvin kissed her with all the love in his heart; wiping away the tears filling her eyes.  “Our love will be my shield.”

     Calvin got up picking up his gear.  Liz started to get up.  “No, baby, you just lie there, that’s how I want to remember you while I’m away, you in your bare beauty.”

     Calvin blew her a kiss, walked out and was gone.

     The first day without Calvin didn’t seem real yet.  Liz halfway expected him to come through the door that evening like all the others before, but when he didn’t show, the realism of the situation struck home.  Liz sat in the living room chair feeling loneliness she had never known before.  The tears flowed down her face, as she worried about Calvin’s safety.  Liz went to bed that night dressed in one of Calvin’s shirts.  She was to report for duty tomorrow.  Keeping busy would help her get her mind off of Calvin being away.

     Liz arrived at the PT field the next morning.  Heads turned watching her, as she was a new face amongst them.  She reported to the sergeant in charge of her unit then fell into the back of the formation.  Today was run day.  As Liz ran in step with her unit her mind was far away thinking of Calvin.

     After PT she went home, changed into her BDU uniform and then drove across base to her unit work location.  When she arrived she was kindly greeted by her new chief.  “Ah, my new repairer, I’ve been waiting for you, I’m Chief Letch.”

     Liz stood at attention in front of the chief, “Nice to meet you sir.”

     “Oh, relax!  We’re very casual around here.  This will be like your second home.”

     “Yes sir.”

     “And quit calling me sir, just call me chief.”

     Liz liked him already.  “Okay, chief.”

  Chief Letch showed Liz around the work area; introducing her to all of the personnel she would be working with.  Everyone seemed really nice; which made her comfortable right away.

     “I understand your husband is in the special ops division here.”

     “Yes, chief, he is.  He was deployed yesterday.”

     “I heard wind of a crew being sent out.  Well, we’ll do all we can to keep you in good company.  If you need anything or  just need to talk don’t hesitate to come to my office.”

     They stopped in front of one of the mobile work shelters.  “This, Private Richards, will be your work area.”

      Chief Letch opened the shelter door; a very attractive half Porto Rican and black girl raised her eyes up off of her test equipment.  “Hey chief, what’s up?”

     “I brought your new shelter mate.  Richards this is Longbow.”

     Longbow smiled at Liz.  “Come on in.  I hope you’re ready to get started we’re back logged today.”

     “Sure! I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”

     The chief walked away.  “You two enjoy!”

     “What’s your first name, Longbow?”


     “I’m Liz.”

            The two spent the day talking about their husbands, where they grew up, and anything else they thought of while they worked.  Liz really enjoyed her job and her new found friend.  When quitting time arrived, Liz was astonished at how fast the day had gone by.  It was like working a normal job. 

     The weeks went by and still no word from Calvin.  He had said he may not be able to contact her.  Maybe that was for the best as it would just make her miss him more.  Liz did get their picture and hung the 8x10 on the wall in the bedroom where she could see him every night before she went to sleep.

     Liz called home more with Calvin gone.  Grandma helped in calming her about Calvin and caught her up on the gossip of Helena.  Grandma told her that Johnny Sly married one of the local girls.  Liz told Grandma to send her congratulations.  After she finished her call with Grandma, she checked in with Robin and Lee.  They were doing fine and had set a date to get married the following month.  Liz told Robin to give Lee a hug from her.  They talked for a while; making Liz really miss Robin, but she finally let her go and hung up.

     The next day at work was busy as ever.  DeAnna was sitting on her stool in the shelter behind Liz putting back together a night vision goggle.  “Have you told chief you’re going to have a baby yet?”


     “You should, Liz, even if it’s not going to be for another eight months.

     “I’m sure it won’t interfere with my job, although I may have to sit a little further away from my work bench.”

     DeAnna laughed.  “Hope we don’t have a fire drill when you get in your final months, I would be trapped in here!”

     “Ha, ha, yourself.”

     “You really do need to tell chief soon.”

     “DeAnna, I promise, I’ll take care of it.”

     That evening before Liz left work she stopped by Chief Letch’s office.  His door was shut, but she could see him sitting at his desk through the windows.  She knocked at his door.  Chief looked up seeing her.  “Come on in her Richards.”

     Liz entered; standing at his desk.  “Chief, do you have a moment?  I need to talk to you about something.”

     “All the time in the world; have a seat Richards.”

     Liz sat down.  “First, I would like to say that I really enjoy my job.  I give it my all every day, and no matter what, will continue to.”

     “You’re a great worker, Richards.  I’ve had nothing but positive reports on your repair skills.  What’s wrong?”

     “Nothing’s really wrong. Its, ah, well, I’m pregnant.”

     The chief leaned back in his chair.  “Is this a problem for you?”

     “No chief, not at all.”

        “Then there’s no problem.  As long as you perform your duties to the best of your ability I have no reason to foresee it becoming a problem.  I do appreciate you telling me.”

     “Thanks chief.  I assure you my work will never suffer.  I plan to work everyday until the baby decides to come.”

     “Just let me know when you need BDU maternity clothes and I’ll see that you’re sent to get some.”

     “Thanks chief.  I just hope when I get that far along that I’m not mistaken for a pup tent.”

     Chief laughed.  “It’s not all that bad Richards.”

     “I hope not.”

     “By the way, congratulations, was there anything else you needed to speak with me about?”

     “No chief, that’s it.”

     Liz got up to leave.  “By the way Richards, how are you holding out with your husband gone?”

     “I guess, good, I miss him so much, but I just stay busy.  It keeps my mind occupied enough that I don’t think about it so much.”

     “I’m sure I can find plenty of work to push your way.  Just let me know when you want more.”

     Liz knew chief was trying to be supportive.  “I will, chief.”

     “Good night Richards.”

     “Good night, chief.”

     Liz went home that night thinking how lucky she was to have such a great chief.  Some of the other units in her battalion had some real jerks in charge.

     Six weeks had gone by and still no word from Calvin.  It was really starting to get to Liz and with his baby slowly growing inside her she ached for him more.  The day had gone along smoothly.  Liz and DeAnna finally caught up and had no back log of repairs to do.

     On her way home all she wanted to do was make a good dinner and take a hot soaking bubble bath.  Liz finished dinner at 7:00 p.m. and was starting her bath water when the door bell rang.  She turned off the water, drying her hands, as she went to the door. Looking out the peep hole, she saw that it was Chief Letch.  Liz couldn’t imagine what would bring him to her house.  Liz turning the dead bolt; opened the door.  “Chief, what’s going on?”

     “Can I come in?”

     “Ah, sure.”

     Liz stepped aside as the chief came into the living room.  “Richards, I think you better sit down.”

     “Chief, what, are we being activated?”

     “No, no, please sit.”

     Liz’s mind reeled trying to figure out what was going on.  “Chief, please, tell me.”

    “Richards, because I’m your chief, they felt it was best that I break the new to you.”

     “News, what news?”

     “It’s about Calvin.  He was taken by a band of rebels when he was out doing observations.  Shots were fired and when backup arrived they found one soldier dead, but Calvin was gone.”

     “No chief!  This isn’t true!”

     “Richards, it is and it has been reported that the rebels in the streets that Calvin’s been put Calvin before a firing squad and when he was executed; they  put his body in a furnace; burning it to ash.  This hasn’t been officially confirmed, but please be assured we hope to get some solid answers.”

    Liz fell from her chair to her knees covering her head with her hands.  The sobs over took her.  Liz lifted her head up looking at the chief with tears streaking down her face.  “No!  This can’t be!  It was just for observation!  Chief, no! Please!  Tell me it’s not true!”

     Chief fell to his knees beside Liz holding her in his arms, “It’s true, sweetie, I’m so very sorry.”

     Liz beat her fist against the chief.  “He’s not dead!  He’s not!”

     Liz’s head fell to Chief Letch’s chest.  She lay there feeling disbelief and loss.  A loss no one could understand.  “He promised me he would come home!”

     Chief just held her, letting the reality sink in, saying nothing.  No words could surpass the grief her heart felt right now.

     Liz finally rose up off the chief.  “Why?  Why, Calvin?”

     “No one knows these things, Richards.  Can you pack a bag?”

     “A bag, for what?”

     “I’m taking you to my home.  My wife will care for you and you’re off duty tomorrow, that’s an order.”

     Liz was so numb from the news of Calvin’s death that her reactions were on auto pilot.  Her eyes were blood shot from crying.  She got up, going to her room, and packing her bag.  When she turned to leave the bedroom the picture of her and Calvin slapped her in the face.  Liz went over; running her fingers along his image.  Her mind couldn’t fathom the pain he must have endured.  “I have your child within me, Calvin.  A part of you will live on, through me, my love.”

     Liz kissed his picture then walked out of the room leaving tears on the picture from her face.

     Chief loaded Liz up in his car and drove to his house.  His wife was kind and warm.  She took Liz to the guest room, “Sweetie, how about a hot bath?”

     “Yes, that would be nice.”

     Mrs. Letch knew that Liz was in automatic response mode and hadn’t fully accepted Calvin’s death.  She knew that when the full force of it did hit her she would need someone there.  She made Liz as comfortable as possible; leaving her to bathe as she went out to speak with her husband.

     “Dear, I really think she needs to be with family right now.”

     “I’ll talk with her in the morning and see if she would like to go home for a week.”

     “That would be best.”

That night Liz climbed into bed carrying an emptiness that consumed her soul.  She fell asleep with the tears soaking her pillow.





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