Welcome Home Soldier

Submitted into Contest #104 in response to: Write about an introvert and an extrovert who are best friends.... view prompt


Friendship Coming of Age Romance

Thunder rang out like deafening gunshots and lightning soared across the skies, its purple hues casting eerie shadows. Most people would have been huddled in their house, waiting out the storm, but not her. For the rebellious teenager, storms were tranquility and peace, her time to be outside with nobody else around. Until the day he walked into her life.

Raindrops pelted her skin, pasting her red and silver curls to her tanned complexion. Torrents threatened to flatten her to the red dirt under her bare feet. Her green eyes pierced through the darkness that seemed to consume her very being.

“I’m never goin’ back. This is where I belawng. Love is what I lack. But out here, I’m on my own.” She sang to herself in a low voice, making up the words as she went along. A shadow passed through her peripheral vision, causing her to stop short. “Who’s there?!” She called out in the sudden moment of silence. A shadow flew across her vision once more. “Coward!”

A boy a couple years older than her stepped out of the shadows and into her full line of vision. “My, my, what have we here?” He drank her in with his eyes. “red hair with silver streaks. Died or real? Green eyes the color of a lightning bug. Contacts or real?”

”None o‘ your beeswax,“ she spat at the man. “I’m goin’ home anyways.” She did an about-face and marched back in the direction she came from.

”Lowrider lowrider left right left – Singin lowrider lowrider get in step

Mama told Johnny not to go downtown

There were too many airborne recruiters around

But Johnny didn’t listen and he went anyway

He shipped for the Army the very next day

Lowrider lowrider left right left – Singin lowrider lowrider get in step

Johnny had a girl and her name was Carrie

She was happy cuz they planned to marry

But Johnny wanted to live the life of danger

And wear the black beret of the airborne ranger

Lowrider lowrider left right left – Singin lowrider lowrider get in step

Johnny jumped in to Vietnam

Cuz he wanted to kill the Viet Cong

Johnny jumped on a hand grenade

To save the lives of the friends he made

Lowrider lowrider left right left – Singin lowrider lowrider get in step

Now Johnny didn’t know it but he was a father

He gave his son the Medal of Honor

Johnny came home in a flag drapped coffin

The bugle was playin and the tears were droppin”

”Fuck awf!” She flipped her middle finger and kept going, absentmindedly falling into the rhythm of his cadence. He ran up behind her and fell into step, still calling out the cadence he started. She halted and about-faced on the guy. “What the hayull do you want?! I come out here durin‘ this time to be alone!”

“’Tis a free country and street, Ma’am.”

“Go be free somewhere alse and stop hollerin‘ cadences! I ain’t in JROTC or the military!” She turned and kept walking, determined to ignore him the best she could.

”But I am, Ma’am.” He kept following her. “Also, I live on this street.” She kept walking. “What music do you listen to? Is your hair died or natural? Do you wear contacts? That is the most beautiful shade of green I’ve ever seen for a girl’s eyes.”

”If I answer your question, will you leave me alone?!”

”You’ll just have to find out, won’t you?”

”Country. Natural. No. Go.” She kept walking down the street, under the yellow sky, open fields on either side of her.

”What are your favorite hobbies?” She stopped dead in her tracks, causing him to come up short. “Movies? Song? Books? Author?” She balled her fists at her side, turned around, and slugged him with a mean right hook. He placed a hand over his jaw in shock. “A girl with a mean right hook. I knew a girl like you three years ago.”

”Get lawst!” She turned on her heel in the rain. He stopped her and pulled on her arm. “Fuck awf, asshole!”

“Clarissa Shepherds?” Her head shot up as she took her first real look at the young man. He towered over. Buzz cut. Army fatigues. Baby blue eyes. Tanned leather skin. Laugh lines creasing under his eyes and around his mouth.

”Jamie Ashton?!“ She shook her head, stunned. “No way…” She stood there unsure of what to do. “Why…you knew…???”

”A lot can change in three years, Clarissa.” She nodded as he wrapped his arms around her in a tight embrace. “So, answers?”

”You’re still an asshole.” He laughed and shook his head.

”But still your best friend, my little anti-social butterfly.” She growled at his childhood nickname for her. They walked back to her house, where he followed her in.

”SURPRISE!!!!!” Several people popped in from the kitchen as they walked in.

”Reverse!” She whisper yelled and backed out the door. His arm stopped her as he pulled her back into the homey living room that was quickly becoming crowded. Hard wood floors. Navy blue couches with matching pillows. Grey walls with white trim. Grey curtains. A huge banner that said, ‘Welcome Home, Soldier!’

He made his rounds with her on his arm. “Miss Shepherds, thank you.…Glad to be home…Been to Poland…Been to Greece…Thank you…” He made his rounds answering questions, giving thanks, and dragging his best friend on his arm.

”Can we get out of here? Too many people, Jamie.” She tugged on his arm. “Please?” He made his last rounds, telling them he had to get back to visit his mother, but he’d be back later. Once outside, she breathed a massive sigh of relief. “Thank you.”

They walked in companionable silence as they walked to his mother’s house. Suddenly, she stopped and turned back to him. “Jamie?” He looked down at her, concern in his eyes.

She looked up at him, her green eyes vibrant with an emotion he’d never seen in her before. Standing on her tiptoes, she pressed her lips to his as rain showered down around them. She pulled back and lowered herself on her feet. “Welcome home, Soldier.”

He lifted her back up and kissed her slowly as she wrapped her arms around him. ”I’ll take this welcome home any day, Clarissa.” She breathed a sigh as he pulled away. “I’ve really got to see my mother before she thinks something has happened to me.”

July 29, 2021 01:25

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Alice Richardson
03:29 Aug 03, 2021

Bit of a surprise to see the poetry (song) but it worked in well with the story.


E.C. Nickelson
14:14 Aug 03, 2021

Thanks! At the start, I wasn't sure where I was taking this. Then, I recalled the cadences called out in Army JROTC my freshman year of high school, that one being the favorite of them. It was then I decided that I absolutely had to take this in that direction.


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