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  1. Prologue

    He is being recruited, I thought. I heard the words but they didn’t process well. I didn’t have an answer or anything to say; I was so shocked. After a long pause, I managed to say, “umm...Kendall, are you sure?” through my lumped throat.
    “I think it is what God is telling me to do, so I’m gonna do it,” he said, trying to cheer me up. “You coming to see me depart tomorrow? The plane leaves at 11:30am.”
    “11:30? Darn! I can’t, you remember my Aunt Celia?”
    “The crazy lady, who tried to stab me with a fork?”
    “Yes,” I chuckled while having a flashback of when Aunt Celia thought Kendall was a bad influence on me and tried to stab him. “Well she’s getting married to Carl, the car guy, and their wedding starts at 10:40 tomorrow. I have to be there, I’m her maid of honor.”
    “Wait, I thought only the sister could be the maid of honor?”
    “Well, if you remember, Aunt Celia’s sister, Janie, doesn’t like her well; so she chose me.”
    “Aw, well I hope you have fun. I have to hit the sack.” Kendall said as he yawned.
    “Kendal,” I said pausing. I heard the crackling through the phone as he walked around his room.
    “I’m gonna miss you.” I said as a tear ran down my cheek.

    Chapter 1

    “Samantha! Are you ready?”
    “Yeah, just about! Be down in 5!” My eyes were all puffy from last night. I was upset I couldn’t go see Kendall leave. I finished my hair and went downstairs to the kitchen where my mom was making breakfast.
    “Sweetheart, your eyes are all puffy, are you alright?”
    “Yeah, just excited for Aunt Celia.” I said while faking a smile.
    We hurried and ate our breakfast so we could go to the wedding to prepare. In the car I saw five planes fly by and every time I saw one my eyes watered. We lived about ten minutes from the airport so I had a suggestion.
    “Mom, can we stop at the airport?”
    “Why? For who?”
    “Umm...a friend is leaving and I want to say goodbye.”
    “Oh, alright but make it snappy.”
    A smile appeared on my face and I couldn’t wait to see Kendall but I was also sad that he was leaving. The airport has terrible traffic but my mother managed to get to the front gate. I saw a handful of men in nice camouflage military suits and I quickly got out. I tried to move swiftly without tripping over my dress.
    “Hey! Where’s Kendall Smith?” I asked one of the tall men who had blonde hair and dark mysterious eyes.
    “Who?” He said in an arrogant voice.
    “Kendall Smith.” I answered quickly.
    “I don’t know who that is.”
    “He’s about my height, dark brown hair, cute smile, looks eighteen.” I looked around frantically.
    I spotted Kendall with Andy Blake and Joseph Schmidt. I ran over and almost tripped when I reached Kendall.
    “Kendall!” I yelled as I reached him. He turned and warmly smiled at me. So cute, I thought as he walked towards me a bit.
    “Sam, you’re here, I thought you had to be at your Aunt’s wedding?” Kendall coughed as a hint for his friends to leave so we could have privacy. Kendall looked cute in his military uniform.
    “You look so official Kendall,” I said while looking at him lovingly and he laughed as he ran his fingers through his hair. “Kendall, I have something I need to tell you before you leave.”
    “What? Don’t tell me you’re going to say that I look terrible bald.” We both laughed and I nudged him in the arm.
    “No no, I was going to say,” I gulped hard and paused. I couldn’t find the courage to tell him what I wanted to say since he broke up with his girlfriend. I looked at my bluish-green high heels and closed my eyes. “I…” As soon as I said it I opened my eyes and looked at Kendall, waiting for his reaction. He was just staring at me and I figured he didn’t feel the same towards me. I began to sweat in nervousness, embarrassment, and most of all the thought of being rejected.
    He reached for my hands and gripped them tightly, then he leaned in to my ears and said, “Sam…I love you too.”
    He hugged me really tight as if I was a teddy bear. I almost couldn’t breathe and asked him to loosen up a bit. He let go of his massive bear hug on me and looked at me, but this time he looked at me in a way I have never seen from him. He leaned in to kiss me and I felt that everything around us was disappearing. Everything seemed to go mute. We were the only ones in the world.
    “All passengers boarding to Okinawa, Japan, please report to Gate 7 in five minutes.” The intercom interrupted our magical moment and Kendall moved back.
    He stared at me and said, “You’re so beautiful.” I began to blush, feeling hot like a lid on a boiling pot. Was the air conditioning on?
    “I have to go now.” My eyes watered and soon I was crying excessively. “Sam, don’t cry.” His words didn’t comfort me much because I knew that he would be gone for a couple years and I would miss him. I believed he knew that he wasn’t going to return anytime soon and so he said, “We can always write one another, I promise.” He grabbed his red duffel bag and started towards Gate 7. As he walked, he turned and mouthed the words, “I love you, wait for me. I will come back” For the first time, those words had a deep meaning. The words tumbled in my head and gave me a warm feeling on the inside. I watched him as he turned back around and disappeared in the huge crowd of the other military men. I stood there for a while, forgetting that I had somewhere to be right now. I quickly realized I had to go back before my mother threw a hissy fit in the car.
    “Sorry mom, took longer than I had expected.” I said as I wiped my face. Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect when I had made the suggestion to come see Kendall before he left; but what did happen made me have a smile on my face.
    “What friend was it?”
    “Oh, Kendall? Where is that boy going off to?”
    “He’s being recruited to the military.”
    “Wow, such a brave young man.” My mom had a tone in her voice that made me think she knew what was going on. Kendall has been my best friend for over three years now and my mom grew quite fond of him.
    The whole car ride was a complete silence. The only noise you heard was when someone would honk a car horn at someone else. I thought of Kendall the entire time, especially when he kissed me. Questions started to generate in my head the more I thought about our situation. How long has he loved or liked me? How long until I would see him again? Four years? Five years? Was I going to be able to take this pain?

    “Oh Sammie! You look adorable!” Aunt Celia sounded so enthused. I was shocked at her enthusiastic reactions; usually she was a dull and quiet person. I guess she was happy because after all, she was getting married today. She hurried everyone to the dressing room and we all began to get all dolled up. Aunt Celia looked phenomenal in her wedding dress, which was tan and had pearl jewels laced all around it. After the wedding ceremony, everyone gathered in the dining area. The food was amazingly good and the wedding cake was beautiful. After eating, it was time for speeches for the bride and groom. My mom made a speech and she cried her eyes out. Eventually I had to go up on stage and calm her down.
    At about 2pm, everyone began to leave and mom said we were going to help with clean up. Aunt Celia insisted that we go home and rest because we’ve worked so hard, even though we didn’t even do much.

    Chapter 2: Kendall

    When I reached Gate 7, I turned to see if I could catch another glimpse of Sam but there were too many people in the crowd blocking where I last saw her. I touched my lips and smiled. “What are you smiling at Kendall?” Joseph said teasingly. Andy and Joseph started making kissy noises and we laughed.
    On the plane, I sat at a window seat. The majority of the passengers were asleep and the plane was completely silent. A few guys were listening to their MP3s or drawing guns and tanks. The guy next to me was, whose duffel bag beside him said “Stover”, was writing a letter to a girl. I knew because I peeked at his letter and it was addressed to a girl by the name of “Lillian.” He was already on the back of the second piece of paper. I turned and looked out at the view from the window. The scenery was beautiful, I began to imagine myself on the beach with Sam and she looked like a model.
    “Hey, how do you spell Chattanooga?” Stover rudely asked. He interrupted my daydream and broke the silence in the plane. I turned at looked at him.
    “Well…” He said impatiently. “C-H-A-T-T-A-N-O-O-G-A.” I spelled it not knowing if I had spelled it write. I took a moment to mentally check my spelling.
    “Ok, thanks man, what’s your name?”
    “Kendall, Kendall Smith.” I said firmly.
    “Thanks Kendall. I’m Stover.” He immediately continued his letter to this mysterious girl that was making me curious. I started to wonder whether or not I should write Sam a letter. After a few minutes, I took out my blue ink pen and a notepad.
    Dear Sam,
    I know I just left but, I really miss you already. We’ve been best friends for 3 years and I just never found the courage in me to tell you what I truly felt. You are such an amazing girl and if I had to wait a thousand years to be with you then I would. I’m glad you told me how you felt because now I am more motivated to come back home to see you. I have one question though, so since we’ve expressed our love to one another, do I still have to ask you out? Or does the love expressing already count as me asking you? Anyways, our plane doesn’t land until about 2pm. I hope that you will wait for me and when I get back we can do all the things you want. Samantha Kaylee Henderson, I love you more than life itself.
    Kendall M. Smith

    “Hey Smith,” I felt something nudging me, “Hey get up, we’re about to land.” Stover had taken the courtesy to wake me up, “Ah, thanks man.” I rubbed my eyes until I felt a sting. I reached up into the compartment above me and grabbed the rest of my bags; I had three in total, one for clothes, one for books, and the last one was full of random stuff I had brought to comfort me. I laid back my head and thought about the next four or five years from now, would I like being in the military? Can I take all the pressure? What if we went to war? Will Sam wait for me? What if I don’t return? I had doubts but my faith in God kept me strong at that moment. I knew He wanted me to do this because of all the signs He was giving me.
    I walked out carrying my bags and looked at the military base; it was a large base. The Lieutenant ordered us to get in a line with our shoulders touching the next guy’s shoulder. He then told us some of the rules and procedures on this base.
    “You’re all going to have jobs, don’t think you’re here to have fun. Now I want you all to listen while I read your last names and group you into quarters. Each quarter is going to have their own schedule that they have to follow. Now, Caine, Van, Richards, Webb, Stover, and Smith are in quarter 614. Sergeant Bruckhowser will be your leader for your quarter. Follow him and he’ll show you to your quarter.” I noticed he talked in short breaths. It made his voice sound deep and angry, almost. Sergeant Bruckhowser introduced himself and gave us a small tour; he said he would show us more after we unpacked and got cleaned up for lunch. I noticed a lot of things about this base: it had electric fences surrounding the entire base but behind it was a huge concrete wall about fifteen feet high and three feet or so from the electric fence, the quarters were actually very nice houses compared to the way they made it sound and look like in the movies, everyone looked extremely buff or professional or most times both, and most of all tanks and trucks came in and out of the base quite frequently.
    We had reached our Quarter 614. As I went inside and looked around, I began to think how being a soldier may not be all that bad. There was plenty of space for the seven of us. The walls were painted a different color for each of the rooms and there was only one bathroom.
    Our quarter had three bedrooms and two queen sized beds in each room. “Yo, Smith!” I turned and peered into the hallway where all the rooms were located. “You wanna be my roommate?” I knew it was Stover who called me. I realized his voice from the plane ride earlier. “Yeah sure.” I replied, knowing I would’ve asked him to be my roommate because he’s the only one I’ve talked to so far and he also seems like a cool guy.
    He chose the room located at the end of the hallway, which happened to be the biggest one. I walked in and saw that he had already picked his bed, the one on the right next to the window and so, I threw my bags onto the left bed. I started unzipping my bags and unpacking my things. I put my clothes in the closet and my books on the shelf. Then, I took out a framed picture and placed on my desk, leaving the other random things in that bag unpacked. Our room consisted of two shelves, two large store-bought closets, and two small desks that stood on either side of the room. The wall was painted a calm green color and had nothing hanging on the walls except a print-out of our schedule near the door. I read the schedule: bathroom duties, laundry duties, kitchen duties, mail duty, lunch, watch out for mornings or nights, training, drills, and free time. Free time was when we could make calls, go out to bars, site-seeing, etc.
    I found my name and my first duty was watch out duty for tomorrow morning at 6 till 2pm. I also looked under Stover’s column and he had the same duty I had. “Stover, we have morning watch out duty tomorrow at 6.” I said as I turned around to see him. “Awww man, you serious? Dang that sucks. Oh well at least I have my buddy.” I smiled, I have a new friend already.
    The lunch room was an enormous building with cafeteria tables all aligned in many rows. It smelled great in there, which made my stomach growl. Stover and I got in line with the other Marines and grabbed blue trays. I looked over Stover to the long line of buffet style food to see what they would be serving and there was a huge variety from seafood to, of course, sushi. I always thought that military food would be gross like those movies where the cafeteria lady would slap a huge brown glob on your tray that you ended up never eating and throwing out.
    I was next in line to order and couldn’t decide. “Well, what do ya want?” The woman was middle-aged woman and short. “I’ll get the umm…the...the steak with mashed potatoes.” She typed it into computer and asked for my last name. “Smith.” I said firmly. She continued typing handed me a card and a piece of paper after it printed out from the small printer to her left. She told me the piece of paper was to be given to the next lady at the counter but the card was my lunch card.
    I got my food and drink but I couldn’t find Stover anywhere. Stover had already gotten his food and was already seated somewhere in this massive and loud crowd. Suddenly, I saw a hand waving at me and motioning me towards where he was sitting direction. I stumbled over to the far left where all the Privates sat and Stover was sitting with our quarter 614 colleagues. “Hey everyone, this is Kendall.” He introduced me and I waved as I sat in the empty seat next to Stover. “What’s happening?” said one of the guys, who Stover introduced as Duke. Duke had a buzz cut and was buff for a little guy. The other guys’ names were Brad, Lorenzo, Conner, and Edward.
    After lunch Sergeant Bruckhowser gave us an entire tour of the base. He took us to a small shed and we had to fill out papers and get our uniforms. We all went back to our quarter after getting our uniforms. Sergeant Bruckhowser was explaining the schedule and then left. I ripped open the plastic bag that contained my uniform and I held up the uniform. Wow, this is awesome! It has my name printed on it and everything! I was excited to try it on but Sergeant Bruckhowser said they were only for pictures and when we need to look professional; however the white t-shirt, with our last names in small bolded letters on the front left corner, was for basically everything we do mainly training and when we do drills.
    By that time it was about 9pm so I decided that it was best for me to go to sleep since I have to get up early tomorrow. I moved all the mess that was on my bed and put it in my closet then, I laid down on my bed. Stover was reading something at his brown desk. He had turned on the small lamp on the desk and had turned off the room light. “Goodnight Stove, see you tomorrow mornin’ bud.” He looked up from what he was reading and replied in a sleepy tone, “Goodnight, wake me when you wake up so I can get ready too.” He said as he continued reading, “Alright.”
    I closed my eyes and thought of Sam. I remembered her beautiful eyes, her cute little nose, her luscious lips, and her soft, light brown hair. I opened my eyes to look over at my little desk and at the framed picture of Sam and I, last summer at camp. She was hugging me in the picture. I closed my eyes again and prayed,
    Dear heavenly Father, please be with Sam and watch over her. Give her strength, faith, hope, and love through you Lord. I ask that you just be with her and if our love is strong then it can sustain the distance that lies between us. I also ask that you can give me faith and strength to be the soldier you want me to be. In our Holy Father’s name, Amen.
    The last thing I remembered thinking about before I fell asleep was Sam.