Flash Fiction Contest winner. 1st prize. We were given the first line.
One Arm Tied Behind My Back
By Dorothy A. Bell
She stumbled out the front door and down the wet steps, tears streaming down her cheeks. His smiling face a blur, Kay took a leap and flew into his waiting embrace. With her eyes squeezed shut, she wept against his neck, inhaling the smell of him, savoring the masculine feel of his hard, strong body, feeling the stubble on the nape of his neck against her cheek. He smelled of musty fatigues and deodorant. It was a masculine smell, a warm smell, a lovely, comforting smell. He smelled like Spence, her lover, her mate, her heart. He was home. After two long, lonely years, he was home—home to stay. With his face buried in her neck they wept, until she pulled back seeking a kiss.
“God, you smell good, Kay. I probably smell like a duffle bag. Can’t wait to take a real shower, with soap that actually lathers, and get into some civies.”
A giggle escaped her lips before the heat of his kiss dissolved it. It was good to know their minds still traveled along the same wavelength. While in Afghanistan, their letters contained, practically word for word, identical questions. Often, they expressed the same thoughts, even though they were hundreds of miles apart, but after…after the explosion, things changed. Letters grew short…vague. The telephone conversations crisp and dry.
Without thinking, her hands slipped to his shoulders, then upper arms, and with their lips still locked, she clutched the empty sleeve, and her breath caught in her throat, just for a split second.
With his forehead pressed against hers, he murmured, “I’ll have a prosthesis in a couple weeks; be almost good as new, doc says.”
A lump, icy and cold as a well-packed snowball, formed in Kay’s throat. With a nod, she cut through that icy plug to ask the dumb question, “Does it hurt?” Instantly sorry, unable to shut up, she babbled like an idiot, making it worse, “My left arm, right at the shoulder, has this burning sensation. I can’t sleep on my left side anymore.”
God, if he shut her out, as he’d tried to do when he was in the army hospital in Germany, where he’d been flown after the explosion, Kay didn’t know what she would do. She couldn’t live without him. The arm didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. He had survived. He was home, and he was going to stay home.
“Doesn’t hurt much anymore…but yeah, it bothers me. Lightning shoots up my arm, to my neck. The pain makes my ears ring. The arm is gone—I know. It’s weird. But I’m good with it. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. I’ve worked through some stuff. I’ve got a lot more to do. But we’ll do it together, Kay. Together.”
“Just love me, Spence, don’t ever cut me loose.”
“Hell, Sweetheart, I can do that with one arm tied behind my back.”