It was cold the morning my dad came home.  Thunder rumbled through the deep grey clouds threatening rain.  How cliché, I thought.  You could pull this weather from nearly any Hollywood funeral scene.

“Miss Wheeler?” I heard as the rear driver’s side door suddenly swung open.  I didn’t reply, in fact I didn’t even turn to see who it was addressing me so formally.  A moment later the same resolute, male voice announced his presence again. “It will be approximately five minutes until landing.  Will you be joining the Marines on the flight line?” Again, I refused to acknowledge the addresser, I simply continued my million mile stare out the passenger window and nodded my head a resolved ‘no’.  Without another word the door quietly closed and a rush of cold, damp air forced a shiver.

Not even long enough to recover from the chill bumps, the door swung open again pulling the remaining heat out with it.  I rolled my eyes in frustration.  Was I going to have to spell it out?  “I’ll watch from here,” I said, careful to be firm but not snappy with the messenger.

“Not acceptable, Kat.  Do not disgrace your father on his final march home.”  The depth and gruffness of the voice could only belong to one man; Gunny Tanq. Immediately, I whipped my head around to confirm his presence.  “Oh my God! How did you get here?”  I sighed with relief, throwing my arms around his tree trunk neck.  A familiar face is exactly what I needed.  I was desperate for an ally; someone who could explain why my dad was on that convoy when he promised he wouldn’t be leaving the base.

“Some of us were given a short leave for the services,” He replied solemnly.  “Your brother is on that plane,” he continued.  “He’s escorting a hero home and could sure use your support right now.”

I knew he was right, but I didn’t think I could do it without completely coming apart at the seams.  “I can’t.  I…” I started.  Before I could finish my thought, an unnatural breeze crossed my face, and Tanq had silently and swiftly exited the vehicle.  The way he left was unnerving.  I had witnessed such a vanishing before.  There was no sound from movement across the leather, and no lift from the shocks as there should have been from a man of his size.  Tanq stood holding the door. “Your brother needs you.”  His tone now was much softer and compelling.  His honey brown eyes were brighter somehow and confident of my compliance.

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