Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Part 8 - Can't You See - Written Fireside

Here is my part of the Written Fireside round robin story that started with Lori Connelly eight weeks ago on Tuesday, June 23rd . The list where you can go to read each part of the story is listed below my part. The parts will be edited and put into a short story that will be sold with all proceeds going to Pets for Vets.

This is the Blurb:

Noah Hale is an author suffering from PTSD related insomnia, needing peace and sleep. All he wants is to be left alone. A certain little dog has other ideas.

Amanda Bell, a teacher, is grieving the loss of her sister, Rachel. Caring for her sister’s dog is comforting until a new neighbor moves in the other half of her duplex. Suddenly, the dog starts escaping her yard, running off to the man on the other side of the fence.

And here is Part 8 of Can't You See
Part 8
Paty Jager

Amanda busied herself in the kitchen. Why did telling Noah about Rachel’s accident lift her spirits rather than bring on the anxiety and fears it normally did? Could it be because he understood and didn’t stare at her like she was crazy? Which made her feel normal rather than a freak. She'd only received sympathetic looks at the meetings.

Noah and Gertie returned.

Amanda placed the two full coffee cups, creamer, and sugar on the table and took the seat across the table from Noah.

Gertie stood to the side of the table her head moving back and forth as if Amanda and Noah were volleying at a tennis match.

Noah lifted the cup to his lips, watching her over the rim.

He’s waiting for me to ask questions. Amanda didn’t want to push too hard and have Noah shut her out. His eyes met hers and didn’t waver. He was ready to open up. To share.

“What happened in Afghanistan?” she asked, stirring sugar into her coffee and keeping eye contact.

Noah set his cup down. His fingers remained on the cup, sliding up and down the handle. “It was night. We’d been sent out on a patrol. Two Humvees and an MRAP, armored vehicle. I was driving the MRAP. My buddy, Mark, was driving the Humvee in the front.” His fingers slid from the cup and his hand balled into a fist. His facial features tightened, hardened, as he fought the emotions bottled inside.

Emotions Amanda knew all too well. She reached across the table, placing her hand on top of his fist. There was no need for words when his gaze locked onto hers.

“About three hours out I had a feeling, or premonition, something wasn’t right.” His gaze didn’t waver. His hand tensed under her palm.

He swallowed. “The air changed—tightened. An explosion ripped the vehicle open even though it was supposed to be impenetrable, and I flew through the air. I didn’t hear anything for several minutes. The concussion of the explosion perhaps, my disorientation of landing on the ground and having my breath knocked out of me, I’m not sure. But then…” He drew in a long, deep breath and slowly released it. “I heard screaming. It was unlike anything I’d heard before. I sat up.” He swallowed again. “The body parts scattered among the shredded metal and vehicle parts. Soldiers screaming in agony with limbs missing, insides…” He swallowed again. “I crawled to Mark’s Humvee.”

Noah’s clenched fist opened and closed as if grasping for answers or a safe place. Amanda slid her palm along his when his hand opened. She clung to his hand, keeping him grounded to her and the tiny kitchen. She knew what it was like to fall into the rabbit hole of believing you could have saved someone.

“Mark wasn’t moving. He…All I could think of was how are they going to make him presentable for his family.” Noah’s eyes held the pain and recrimination she’d witnessed in her own eyes for months.

“It wasn’t your fault. Too many lives have been lost in wars. Don’t blame yourself for something that was caused by the enemy.” She grasped his hand with both of hers. “Don’t let the self-blame eat you up.”

Gertie hopped onto Noah’s lap. She whined and licked his chin.

Amanda smiled. “Gertie is giving you permission to not blame yourself.”

Noah glanced down at Amanda’s small hands clutching his. She didn’t run or look at him like he was crazy. She clung to him, offering support. He pet Gertie with his free hand and peered into Amanda’s eyes. She truly understood.

The black cloud that had shrouded his life became a shade lighter. He loved his family, but they didn’t understand. This woman and spirited dog did.

“I’ve been going to a therapy group for PTSD,” Amanda said. “Want to go with me this week and see if you have something in common with more people than me?”

Gertie yipped enthusiastically and danced on his lap.

“Shhh, okay girl, I get the message.” He put a hand on the dog’s head, stalling her antics and peered across the table at Amanda.

You can find the previous parts at these blogs:

Part 4  by Jane Hunt    
Part 8  by Paty Jager
Part 9  by Zara Stoneley
Part 10 by Summerita Rhayne


Susan Horsnell said...

Great job Paty

Paty Jager said...

Thanks, Susan! It was a hard subject to research and figure out what to write.