The next few hours were a blur. Sarah after a period of denial called her mother who lived half an hour away to come to pick up her small children. Leaving them alone for her morning run was one thing but leaving them for an unknown amount of time was too much to ask of anyone that wasn’t family. A reliance that only works with family is without a doubt one that can only be asked of her parents. Her mother arrived, helped the children and Sarah pack and then left without another word. Her mother was not a part of the military, and had always taken a stance of I support the soldiers, not the war. She wanted nothing to do with this man who had called up her only daughter and upset her entire life.
It helped that Sarah and her children spent entire weekends with her parents. Her old bedroom was now after all of these years set up as a guest room for her own children. The car showed up and the driver although was momentarily surprised by her punctuality prepared to leave. Sarah had always prided herself on being punctual in all aspects of her life, she was not the person who believed in fashionably late and in fact was so early to some of her social functions that she would wait in her car before going inside. She did not pretend to think that everyone else was ready a half an hour early for people to arrive and therefore did not want to intrude on someone who was in the throws of last minute details of their preparation.
The driver drove to an airport hanger where another man in another military uniform was waiting for her next to a small plane. She was given no details and at this point in her journey did not expect to get any. The man offered her a drink before they started their next stretch of the journey. She smiled politely took three shots of jack she was ready to fly. Sarah had never had an easy stomach when flying and so the assistance of jack and assorted other drugs her mother had handed her before she left suited her, for once in her life, as just fine. She took the drink, took the drugs, and feel asleep.
When she woke it was by the kind nudging of a kind looking man, in a more functional military outfit. Sarah in her groggy state could feel the heat from the open cockpit door. She had no idea how long she had been asleep but by the pain in her eyes from sleeping in her contacts told her it had to have been longer than a quick nap.
“Hmmmm” Sarah grumbled stumbling out of her fuzzy headed state.
“Mrs. Harris here is some water” Sarah took the water from the man but did not speak again “Mrs. Harris, you’ve been asleep for quite sometime I was starting to get worried. Mrs. Harris I don’t mean to be rude but your eyes, they are red, are you alright?”
Sarah chuckled “that’s what I get for not taking out my contacts for a plane ride I planned to sleep through”.
The young man, with his sandy blonde hair and his calm blue eyes smiled. “How about I give you a few minutes to collect your things and maybe change into your glasses. Contacts get really dried out here anyway. I’ll meet you outside of the cockpit in fifteen minutes.”
Sarah thought to ask where she was but she didn’t need to ask. The flight had not taken them West from her home in Norfolk in the beginning so she did not think she had magically made her way to the safe Sonoran Desert. No, this heat was different. She looked painfully out the hole on her right and saw what she feared, desert landscape, and Arabic printed on the airport. What the hell am I doing in the middle east? She had studied history and had her Bachelors degree from Northwestern in History; she could identify Arabic when she saw it. She also knew how far away from home that she was. One thing at a time Sarah come on contacts, bathroom, brush hair, go. Small steps. The family therapist had suggested that when things got tough for the kids to take things one step at a time. How was this any different? After removing her contacts, freshening up with a new layer of deodorant and brushing out her hair she stared at herself in the mirror. The woman looking back at her was not a pleasant site. With a red dark line that matched that of the airline seat stitching imprinted on her skin, the bright red eyes, and her hair which looked oily and dirty she felt as though it was as good as it was going to get. She walked towards the open cockpit door, allowing the heat to blast her face with pain that surged over her whole body. Walking down the stairs of the plane made Sarah realize how groggy she was from the pills, the drinks, and the lack of water.
She entered a car where she was alone for what felt like the first time in days. Military life does not leave much for privacy Matt would always say. Thinking of him brought much needed moisture to Sarah’s eyes and she thought of him for more than a moment.
She was taken from the airport to another location where she was unloaded. The Arabic lettering had disappeared and was replaced by beige signs with brown letter reading US Army Base and other such nonsense. It did not surprise her and she for a moment allowed herself to think of what would surprise her at this point in her life. Hmm perhaps not much actually, at this moment everything is strange so that strange is the norm. Sarah did not like being kept in the dark, a part of their marriage that had always been on edge from day one and had not changed for her or for him. He could not and would not tell her the happenings of his everyday life, and she would ask. They drove each other crazy in both good ways and bad.
This combination had been what had brought them together, and what kept them together after all of these years. They loved each other more than they could articulate, and because of this love had brought her two children into this world. She missed them but hoped that her mother and father were enjoying their time.
After many twists and turns down what seemed like one way roads Sarah found her and herself being unloaded into a housing barrack and left without a second look. Her irritation level, her anger from being picked up and dropped in the middle of this place, was finally at its tipping point. Dropping her bag, she marched herself out of the housing barrack determined to find someone that could point her to whomever was in charge of this whole situation and hopefully would be able to help her find her way to whatever was her reason for being. As she made her way towards a group of men standing around, one of them caught sight of her marching around the yard, they came at her, all at once to escort her back to her cot.