Jed’s Story

This is one of my favorite short stories for the dystopian series that I am writing It is the story of Jed and Krista before the events that take place in the book. I really hope you enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it

 Jed’s Story

Faster and faster they run through the streets of Silver City, New Mexico. Jed turns to look behind them, but the men in olive green RONA uniforms have steadily kept their pace. He realizes they are going to have to stop running and fight if they want any chance of making it out alive. He looks over at Krista whose blonde hair is stuck to her face with sweat. Her stormy gray eyes are full of fear. She is petit which makes her look weak to some. But she is completely tone, and is trained in every form of fighting. She is a lot more capable than she gives herself credit for; and Jed knows it. She seems to know what he is thinking and shakes her head in protest.

“I can’t,” she attempts to whisper, but it comes out as more of a scream, the terror in her voice is apparent. She pleads with him as a single tear brushes her tan cheek and asks, “Can we just keep running Jed, please?”

“We will tire eventually, we will have to stop and fight if we expect to make it out of this one alive,” he replies darkly and squeezes her hand in an attempt to reassure her. “Stay behind me, I will protect you,” he says with a sad smile. They slow their pace.

Jed turns to fight the two men who seem to see this sudden change in behavior as a sign of surrender. But before they realize what is happening Jed spins in a circle swiftly kicking one of the men in the head. Krista watches, in awe of the large man, his movements as graceful and delicate as a swan. He is easily six foot five with dark hair and stunningly deep brown eyes. The other man moves to draw his gun. Krista is too quick and kicks his hand. The gun goes sprawling on the dark black concrete and bounces away into a nearby bush. He recovers quickly with a jab to Krista’s right temple. She falls to the ground visibly unconscious and Jed lets out a scream that is more like a war cry. In a second he is on top of the man punching him furiously in the face. He doesn’t quit until the man is unconscious himself.

He runs over to Krista and gently lifts her lifeless body. She is breathing but her breaths are strangled and rough. He wonders, “Why would she do this? Why would she risk her life for mine?” as he runs with her limp body through the streets and back alleys that he knows so well. It won’t be long before they reach the old abandoned warehouse that now houses the Silver City branch of the resistance. Krista begins to stir in his arms and the weight Jed bears is lifted from his chest. “She is going to be ok,” he thinks to himself, but his large muscles are getting weak from the strain and his lungs are ablaze with white hot flames as he heaves for enough breath to move steadily through the streets. Krista moans and begins to stir again, but Jed calms her.

“Shh,” he tells her soothingly and gently strokes her cheek. “We are almost there. Be still.”

“Jed, what happened?” she asks him weakly as he continues his pace.

“You were punched in the head, what were you thinking?” he chides with a grin. “I told you to stay behind me.”

“He pulled a gun, I thought he was going to kill you,” she exclaims through a strangled breath.

“It’s ok, it’s all over now. Just rest,” he reassures her and she complies instantly. A while later they make it to the old abandoned warehouse. Jed kicks the door. A small man with dark brown hair streaked with gray and kind brown eyes hidden behind black horn rimmed glasses answers the door and ushers them inside.

“What happened?” Jessie asks concerned.

“She was punched in the head after she saved my life,” Jed explains. “She came to about a half an hour ago, and she seemed to know what was going on,” he continues still trying to catch his breath. “Might have a concussion though.”

“Let’s get her to the infirmary,” Jessie orders, and they walk down the cold stone hallway that is dimly lit with dull blue lights.

It is late in the evening before Krista wakes up again. Jed has his head laid next to hers resting comfortably on the bed in the sterile white walled room until Krista begins to awaken. He lifts his head to see her beautiful gray eyes staring at him, watching him sleep.

“Hey, there sleepy head,” she says with a bright smile and rubs her temple. “I thought you’d never wake up,” she continues. “Did you know you drool when you sleep?” she asks and giggles at him. His face turns bright red with embarrassment and he wipes the side of his mouth with his sleeve.

“Haha, very funny,” he laughs. “How’s your head?” he asks as he caresses her cheek with the tips of his fingers careful not to touch the large purple bruise that has already formed on her temple so close to the eyes that he longs to gaze into lovingly. “You have been out most of the day.”

“You have been here all day waiting for me to wake up?” Krista questions him shyly as she makes an attempt to comb through her stringy blonde hair with her fingers. “Why would you do that?” she continues perplexed but her cheeks become flushed with embarrassment.

“You saved my life,” Jed responds in an even tone. Krista simply looks at him. Jed wonders what she is thinking unsure of what else to say.

“Oh, yeah I did, it was nothing anyone else on base would have done the same,” she replies disappointed,

“What’s wrong?” Jed asks her as he lifts his huge hand up to her face and delicately brushes a strand of her hair from her cheek.

They gaze in each other’s eyes for a moment, communicating without words, but Krista turns her head in embarrassment. “Thank you,” she says as she looks into his eyes once again, but looks away quickly when she notices him staring back.

“What?” she asks, her cheeks flushed. She makes another attempt to smooth her disheveled hair. Jed grabs her hand and brings it up to his full lips and kisses it.

“Don’t,” he says as she looks away. “I want to always remember how you look in this moment,” he continues. Krista makes an attempt to look away from him but he reaches up and holds her cheek in his hand. “I would have protected you, you know I could have stopped him from shooting me and you never would have been injured, if only you would have trusted me,” he says sadly. He pulls her in close to him and softly kisses her lips. Her whole body shudders in shock and Jed wonders to himself if that was the right thing to do. She kisses him back and when it is over she looks at him with a shy smile.

“What took you so long,” she asks and lays back in the hospital bed, they are both completely at peace. Jed realizes in this moment that no matter what happens he will always look back at this day as one of the happiest in his life because this is the day when he realizes that the one he loves feels the same way about him. He feels nothing but bliss as she drifts off to sleep with his head right by hers, their hands entangled together and he knows that he will never let her go.

The next few weeks are a whirlwind of stolen moments, secret kisses, and wayward stares across crowded rooms. All they want is to be together, uninhibited by the impending war and their undeniable part in it. They steal away moments, the passion in their kiss is so animal that they don’t want to let go. They want nothing more than to give in to their infinite desires, but they can’t. Not yet.

Krista finds Jed in an abandoned hallway and stares into his amazing brown eyes. He looks at her with utter hunger, but yet there’s warmth and kindness in them as well.  It is less than a second before he has her slim body pressed against the cold stone wall pressing his lips to hers furiously as if he has no intention of ever stopping. She melts into his warm embrace, wanting the same. He grabs her waist and pulls her body against his. He caresses her cheek with his enormous hand and she shudders a little at his touch. She fears how close they are now. She wants to stop, but the desire is greater than her fear so she continues to kiss him passionately, with more passion and longing then she has ever felt in her short life.

“Wait,” she tells him as she holds his face in her hands. ”We can’t do this Jed,” she continues unsure of herself and bites her lip. She asks the question that had been on her mind since they started their forbidden romance. “What happens if people find out about us?” she asks full of innocence. “Will we feel the same as we do now, or will the intrigue and passion be gone?”

Jed looks at her sideways for a moment with a puzzled look on his face. Finally after what seems like eternity staring into those dark chocolate eyes, he looks at her with love and admiration, and says, “Always.” He presses his soft lips firmly to hers and all the doubt and stress melts off of her like butter and in that moment, she knows that she has fallen deeply, madly, and passionately in love with this man and there is nothing she can do to stop it.

“Always,” she says and he kisses her gently, holding her body firmly to his, so close that it is almost as if they are one person imprisoned in separate bodies forced to find their missing piece once again.  The feeling of absolute bliss washes over the two of them as they stand in that abandoned hallway holding each other close.

For that brief moment everything is right with the world. There is no war to fight, no evil dictator oppressing the nation, just the two of them loving each other in a way only they can. In that moment, Jed looks into Krista’s slate gray eyes, then buries his face in her long blond hair, his lips so close that she can feel his warm breath tickling her ear. He lets out a sigh and whispers softly to her, “I love you.” He slowly moves his head to gaze into her eyes, she knows he is searching them for a response to what he just said, and she can feel it in his eyes and his warm embrace that he knows she loves him too.

“I love you,” she says as she presses her lips roughly to his. The passion is undeniable, but at the same time reserved. He kisses her back with such ferocity that she almost gives in to her desires. He pushes her up against the wall and moves his hands swiftly but delicately across her body. Then after a moment he stops and turns red with embarrassment. He looks down at her sheepishly.

“I’m sorry,” he says embarrassed and turns his brown eyes away from her. Eyes so sad they look as if before this moment they have never felt real joy.

She reaches a hand to his cheek and turns his face so she can meet his eyes. There is such sadness, pain, and heartache living in those eyes. But there is also a glimmer of something more. Something that she hasn’t seen in anyone’s eyes before. Was that a glimmer of hope in his eyes? She wonders as his form overtakes her senses once again. She wonders what horrors he must have seen to make him look so sad and tortured.

“Maybe we should just stop hiding this from everyone,” Jed says out of nowhere as he reaches up and gently tucks a stray hair behind her ear and gently rubs her temple where the bruise isn’t quite healed. “What will they do if they find out anyways,” he continues staring into her eyes. “We are over age, what harm would it do?”

“But Jed, my dad will freak out. You know he will.”

“I don’t care, I’m tired of hiding, like we are doing something wrong,” he replies, she can hear the anger in his voice and see the fury in his eyes. She thinks about it for a moment and turns her face to him. She has tears in her eyes.

“We can’t. He will have you transferred and we will never see each other again.” Her sad eyes meet his once again. She searches his face for some kind of recognition, something that tells her that he understands. But, she sees nothing but pain and anger. “I would rather sneak around than risk losing you forever,” she continues with tears rolling down her cheeks. “I could never risk that I don’t think I could survive that. Jed, do you understand?” she asks him calmly. His expression softens as he gently presses his soft lips to hers then whispers in them, “I love you. I have to go.” He turns without another word and skulks down the hallway leaving her standing against the wall crying.

“Sir, can I have a word?” Jed asks as he enters Commander Mathews’ office the very next day. He is completely nervous, kneading his hands together and biting the inside of his lip until he nearly draws blood.

“Sure Jed, What can I do for you?” Commander Mathews wears a bright smile across his entire face. Jed knows that smile. It’s the same one Krista gives him every time she sees him. Jed falters, how can he have confidence looking at Commander Mathews? Every time Jed looks at him he sees those subtle resemblances of his daughter Krista. He almost loses his nerve but, picks himself up and forces his resolve to be strong.

“Sir I wanted to ask you a personal question.” Jed forces the words with the fear slowly creeping up on him. “What is wrong with me? I have done and seen many scarier things in my life why is this so hard? “Sir I am just going to get this out before I lose my nerve,” he says trying to inspire confidence, but feeling more than a little shaken. “I am in love with Krista and I would like to ask your permission to date her.” That’s it; it’s out in the open. Jed tries to read the Commander’s expression but he stares at him blankly for more than a minute before he speaks.

“Does she feel the same way?” he asks. This response throws Jed off. He stops and looks at him again the blank expression is gone he looks more thoughtful now as if he is trying to work out a puzzle in his head. Studying Jed’s expression. There is hope in his eyes.

“Yes sir, I believe she does,” Jed replies and breathes a sigh of relief. Jed stands in Commander Mathew’s office for what seems like forever, the two of them visibly sizing each other up, before he finally speaks.

“Jed, attachments can be dangerous. Remember that. Emotions can get you killed or worse,” he crosses the room over to Jed and claps him on the shoulder. “That is why we frown on dating in the resistance. But we are not RONA either and will not take away our peoples freedoms. So you and Krista may do what you choose.” He finishes that statement with a broad grin and for a flash of a second. He sees Krista’s eyes looking back at him instead of her father’s. “Just remember you are one of my best soldiers. So is she. Don’t let love cloud your judgment.”

The smile doesn’t leave Jed’s face for hours. He spends the entire rest of the day on the roof of the base preparing a special dinner for the two of them and when it is finally ready he bursts through the halls in search of Krista.

They haven’t seen each other in a day when Jed walks up to Krista a wide smile on his lips and hope in his loving eyes.

“Come with me,” he says as he grabs her hand and drags her across the mess hall.

“Jed, where are you taking me?” she asks bewildered. Her eyes darting from side to side, wondering how many people just saw this gesture.

“You will see. It’s a surprise,” he says as he turns to look into her brilliantly beautiful eyes, His smile is wide, almost childlike as he pulls her to the roof.

Once they arrive on the roof she sees what he has been up to. The entire set up is beautiful. There is a small table with two chairs and a white linen table cloth draped over it. The vibrant pink calla lilies in the vase on the center of the table shine bathed in moonlight. He has lit up the roof with tiny white lights that twinkle like stars all around them. A small radio sits off to one side playing a symphony in her ears as she looks in his eyes.

“Oh Jed, what have you done?” she asks with the brightest of smiles, and her eyes twinkling with the lights that bathe her in light despite the dark night.

“I did this for you,” he replies. A warm smile and look of surprise washes over her. “I’ve done something else for you too, well for us actually,” he says with a sly look, and pulls her chair out for her beckoning her over to sit. “I saw your father today,” he says casually as he pushes her chair in and crosses over to have a seat in his own.

“No, Jed you didn’t,” she replies, the smile never escaping her full red lips.

“Yes, Krista. I asked his permission,” he gazes at her with loving hungry eyes. He pauses for dramatic effect and leaves the words lingering for a bit longer than Krista likes.

“Well? What did he say?” she asks when the anticipation is almost unbearable.

“As you know I can be very persuasive,” Jed says with a chuckle, he is teasing her.

“Not that persuasive, but we shall see once you tell me his answer,” she teases him back and he gives her a look of mock astonishment as he speaks her father’s answer.

“Yes,” is all Jed says but it is the only answer she needs. She scoots her chair out and does a flying leap into Jed’s arms and kisses him with more passion, hunger, and desire than she ever had before. Once their lips part and they breathe deeply, and she looks in Jed’s soft brown eyes. She feels warm and safe within his grasp.

“You lied,” she says in a matter of fact tone.

“What?” Jed asks confused.

“You said we wouldn’t feel any different once people knew.” She looks intently at his reaction before he speaks.

“Do you feel any different?”

She nods her answer trying to mask the excitement in her eyes. She sees that Jed is a little crestfallen at first until the smile on her face tells him she is teasing him once again and she finally responds.

“I think I love you even more now,” She kisses him deeply and passionately so that all of their worries just melt away.

The next day they are called to a meeting with Commander Mathews and the rest of the base to discuss the latest problems with RONA.

“We have had reports that there are RONA guards in the area kidnapping and brutalizing women and young girls,” Commander Mathews announces once everyone has arrived and he scratches his head visibly distressed. “We will start patrols immediately. Until further notice no female personnel will be permitted to leave base without an armed male escort,” he continues. Krista’s eyes flick to Jed’s hand as he slides it into hers. There is a roar among the women outraged that they are to be confined to the base.

“We are soldiers, we can handle this,” Suzy, a short redhead in the corner yells outraged.

“At any other time I would be inclined to agree with you Suzy; however, these men seem to run in a pack of between eight and twelve,” he explains. The women in the room fall quiet. “I feel like it’s in everyone’s best interest if no one leaves base alone or unarmed,” he continues. With that, the meeting is done.

Jed and Krista walk out of the meeting room hand in hand, both of them visibly shaken by this news. They are almost to their post before either of them speaks.

“It’ll be ok,” Jed attempts to reassure Krista, squeezing her hand.

“How do you know?” she asks he can see the terror in her eyes. Jed stops and lifts his hand and softly brushes her cheek with his fingertips.

“You have to trust me,” he says and he rests his forehead against hers. “I will never let anything happen to you.” He kisses her gently on her forehead.

Patrols go out that evening. After RONA enforced the curfew, it is extremely dangerous to go out after dark already. But now, it is worse. They arm themselves with rifles and handguns. Jed has his buck knife slid inside his combat boot. Krista has a bow and a quiver of arrows slung over her shoulder. They are dressed in all black from head to toe to blend in better with the oily black night. There is a cover of clouds overhead. It makes the night even more sinister because of the lack of light from the moon.

The city is dark. There isn’t even candle light peeking out of the cracks in the boarded up windows of the abandoned homes that line the streets. Many of them house homeless immigrants who were displaced by the war and the current tyrannical government. Their parents fought hard in the immigration wars to save the country from chaos and turmoil, but they put their faith in the wrong man to bring it all back to the way it was before. He betrayed them, seizing power for himself. Now, most of the country is like this, broken with much of the population starving.  Jed and Krista walk the streets listening and watching for any disturbance. The only thing they hear for a while is the wind whistling through the trees. They come up to a bend in the road when they hear a woman and a young girl scream the most awful blood curdling scream they ever heard. They take off at a sprint.

“Where was that coming from?” Krista asks Jed her voice panicked while pulling her pistol from her waistband.

“It sounds like it came from over there,” he replies as they stop next to an alley. They can hear men laughing and joking as they surround the woman and the girl, who looks as if she couldn’t be more than twelve. There is a large circle of ten men all with guns pointed down at them.

A large man, with dark hair and cruel brown eyes, steps into the circle next to the young girl and brushes her cheek with the back of his hand. She recoils in fear and disgust. The older woman starts to lunge at him but is quickly restrained by two of the other men.

“Hold her there,” the man orders and starts to unhook his belt. “I want her to watch,” he continues with a sneer. “Don’t worry sweet heart I will get to you next,” he says and blows a kiss at her.  She turns her head and closes her eyes as the man grabs the girl by her hair. She winces and lets out an agonizing scream.

Jed can’t watch anymore. He turns to Krista and gives her a rough passionate kiss and then steps into the alley with his gun raised. His first two shots are right on target. The men drop quickly, but once those shots are heard the alley is in an all-out panic.  Bullets are flying everywhere. Krista sees her opportunity to advance and takes it, being sure to stay in the shadows at the edge of the alley. The two men are still holding the woman there. She is terrified with bullets whizzing past them. Krista raises her gun and shoots one in the back. The other turns right on time for Krista to roundhouse kick him in the temple. He slumps to the ground. There is blood oozing from his ear.

“Come on,” she tells the women, and gestures with her hand for them to move. “Stay close to me. Its ok, I won’t let them hurt you,” she says as they move quickly along the fence, still being sure to stay in the shadows.  “Command center, this is Krista Mathews requesting back up,” she reports into her walkie as they move. “I have two civilians and Jed is in the middle of a gun battle with four RONA guards, send back-up immediately.” She continues frantically and brushes her hair out of her face as she runs. She is careful to make sure she has eyes on the hostages as they sprint to the end of the alley until they are finally safe.

Jed’s battle wages on. There are only two guards left and Jed has been hiding behind a large metal dumpster for some minutes. After Krista gets the women to safety she carefully draws their fire. Every minute or so she peeks her head around the corner and takes a shot. They aren’t pretty, but they aren’t meant to strike them, only to distract them away from Jed so he can retreat as well.

She aims her pistol at the cruel eyed man’s feet and fires. It barely misses him. His only companion, who is still on his feet, sets his sights on her location. In that moment Jed finds his target. He shoots the man after Krista. While Jed is distracted the cruel eyed man runs into the shadows.

They search carefully for him to no avail, and decide the night has been a success. Jed doesn’t feel that though. He had just taken the lives of about 8 men with one man still on the loose. He says nothing to Krista, no voice, no body language, nothing that would suggest that there was any type of feeling for her. At last they are transported back to base where they will be treated for not only physical, but mental wounds as well.

Jed is a complete ghost during transport. Once the adrenaline wears off he goes into shock. When they arrive back on base they take him to the infirmary. He stares blankly at the wall. Krista, the woman that he loves, cannot even get through to him.

As she sits by his bed in the infirmary she pleads with him to snap out of his daze. She tries everything until she can’t take it anymore. She kisses his lips with such ferocity, hunger and desire that she is sure that it will wake him up. His brown eyes snap open. He reaches up and grips her shoulders so tight she cries out in pain and he shoves her off roughly. He stares blankly into space. Finally, he looks at her and begins to sob repeating over and over, “What have I done?” Krista holds him in her arms, not sure what else to do. She lets him cry into her shoulder even though she is fearful of the way he just reacted to her.

“I have never taken a life like that before,” Jed mutters into her hair. Her heart breaks a little for him wondering, “Will he ever be the same?”

She gets her answer. Over the next few weeks, Jed seems to get better but he is different. He is cold and unfeeling. Krista decides to give him some space so he can work through these new demons; but he doesn’t seem to be trying to heal. He simply pushes all emotion down to a deep dark place where no one can ever find it and he will never hurt that way again.

She sees the change most when they are out on patrol together. He has become aggressive. Instead of fleeing when they see RONA guards he stops and fights. He is reckless to the point where Krista thinks he is looking for a fight.

One day they are on a patrol near an old rundown park with rusted swing sets and a battered slide. The autumn leaves are falling from the trees in golden yellow, orange, and brown. Krista spots three RONA guards walking along the opposite end of the street and takes refuge behind a large oak tree. She sees Jed hesitate looking at her confused before he notices the men. He takes off after the men just as Krista attempts to grab his hand to stop him. He shrugs her off. Before she knows it Jed is surrounded by the three men throwing punches. He kicks one of them in the gut and he falls to the ground.

Krista runs over to help him but by the time she reaches him all three men are on the ground. Jed continuously punches one of the men. She comes up behind him attempting to stop him from killing the man but, when she reaches up to grab him he elbows her in the eye. Krista goes flying back and lands in the soft grass behind her.

“What were you thinking grabbing me like that?” he growls at her. “I could have killed you.” he continues as he paces in front of her, raking his hands through his short black hair.

He never apologizes. He doesn’t offer to help her up. He simply looks down on her his expression blank as she blinks back the tears over what she has lost. In this moment Krista realizes he will never be the same.

This crushes Krista. She has no idea how to help him. The coldness in his eyes when he looks at her shatters her heart to the point that she just can’t take it anymore. He obviously hasn’t been sleeping well. He has deep dark purple and black circles under his eyes and they are bloodshot. He slumps his shoulders as if the effort to stand up straight is just too exhausting.

“I can’t live like this anymore, Jed,” she tells him through muffled sobs as she buries her face in her hands.

“Like what?” he replies angrily.

“With you being like this cold and emotionless. I know what happened was tough but you can’t go through life like this. I can’t stand to see you this way,” she replies. She attempts one last look in his eyes searching for the softness they once had. There is nothing in his expression but coldness.

“What are you saying?” his even tone is all Krista needs to know that she is making the right decision.

“I’m leaving, Jed,” she replies. The tears are now streaming down her face, but she doesn’t attempt to wipe them in hopes that seeing her cry might snap him out of this. There is no such luck. He simply looks away from her.

“Where are you going?” he asks a little anxiously, but still his tone says it all.

“I asked to be transferred out. I leave for New York tomorrow.” He looks at her confused but nothing more. There is no hint of hope nor love in his eyes. He simply turns on his heels and walks away without another word.

Krista leaves the next morning. Jed can’t deal with saying goodbye so he doesn’t. He can’t deal with a lot of things lately. The nightmares are getting so bad that he hardly sleeps anymore. To make things worse, Commander Shafer is coming to present him with a medal of courage. He thinks, “Courage? Ha! How courageous is it to hide from your feelings? To sit there and block everything out so you don’t have to deal with the guilt?” He knows deep down he did what he had to do. Saving those women and protecting Krista was the right thing to do. But that thought doesn’t make him feel any better. In fact, he doesn’t feel much of anything these days, which would have made things a lot easier if it hadn’t been the thing that drove Krista away.

Days pass and Jed doesn’t get any better. The day of Commander Shafer’s visit draws nearer and the entire base is in an uproar attempting to prepare for her arrival. It is uncomfortable for Jed to be on top of the roof again. This is a spot he has avoided since Krista left, but as the honoree and old family friend of Commander Shafer, it is his duty to welcome her when she lands. So, he does what he has been doing for the last month, and pushes all feelings aside. Because if he didn’t, the pain would be too much to bear.

The hover craft arrives kicking up sand in the evening sun atop the crumbling decrepit old warehouse. Commander Shafer is striking with her thick blond hair pulled back in a tight bun, and her dazzling emerald eyes that seem to sparkle as the sun hits them perfectly. She is wearing her military garb, and has a cheerful smile on her cherry red lips. She walks swiftly over to Jed and sticks out her hand.

“Jed, my dear it’s so nice to see you again. How are you?” Commander Shafer gushes as she glides up to Jed.

“Commander, I have been better, but thank you for asking,” he responds in an even tone which takes her back a bit.

“I thought you would at least be a little happy, this medal is quite an honor,” she replies, almost hurt. “My dear friend Robert would be so proud if he could see you now,” she beams at him oblivious to what is really happening.

“I know commander and I’m not ungrateful. I am just having a rough time with it that’s all,” he says in an attempt to reassure her. But the mention of his father makes him hang his head. “Would he be proud? I took eight lives that night. I see no pride in that.” Jed thinks to himself as he rubs the back of his neck with his huge hand.

“Look Jed, I am going to tell you what my commander told me the first time I took a life,” she says and gives him a pained look. “If you didn’t feel something then I would think there was something wrong with you. You would be no better than the animals we are fighting every day,” she continues with a sad smile. “When you bury your feelings it only makes things worse, and what’s worse is that it affects the rest of your life. If you’re not careful then you will lose everything. Just think about it, ok? Don’t let them defeat you,” she says, and walks away.

Jed stands there dumbfounded for a while not knowing what to think. Thoughts of Krista and her inability to deal when times get rough run through his mind. Maybe it’s for the best he thinks to himself. There is no end to this war. It hasn’t even really began. There will be many other strains on us. If we can’t make it through this what hope would we have for the future? War is hell, but Krista was his one bright spot amidst all the pain. If he doesn’t have her what else does he have? He realizes then that he already lost the only thing that mattered to him and there is no way that he can get that back. But he could try. A wide smile spreads across his face as he sprints to the command center to use the comm screen.

He walks into the dark room filled with screens and communication equipment. His hands are shaking as he moves around the large metal table to the computer to pull up communications to the New York base. He stops for a moment when he realizes that he has no idea what he is going to say to her. How can he even begin to apologize for the way he acted towards her? He steps back from the computer and thinks for a moment, but it’s too late. The communication is already going through, and Krista being the tech genius she is, will be in the command center working.

“Jed,” he hears a voice behind him. He turns to look in the most beautiful gray eyes he has ever seen. He can’t help but smile.

“Hey Krista, how are you?” he says awkwardly.

“I’m good, what’s going on Jed? Is something wrong?” she asks with a look of confusion.

“No, nothing’s wrong, I just had a moment of clarity and I wanted to talk to you,” he replies. His eyes are stinging and he is trying desperately to keep the tears at bay.

“Jed,” she starts.
He quickly interrupts her. “No please, let me get this out or I will never be able to.” He says and wipes a tear from his cheek. “I know I messed things up and I know you will probably never forgive me, but I just want you to know that I never stopped loving you. It was just too hard to show my emotions. If I showed any emotions I felt like they would all come busting out and kill me. That night will never leave me; but I have learned that there are more important things than guilt and fear. I have to deal with those emotions. The good with the bad. I will never give up on us. If one day you can find it in your heart to forgive me I will be right here. I will always love you.” He finishes his speech. Tears are streaming down both of their faces. It’s a full minute before she responds.

“I love you too Jed. But I just can’t. I’m sorry I have to go.” She breaks the connection and Jed is left in silence with nothing left to do but put his head in his hand and cry.

He sits there for what seems like hours replaying the last few weeks in his head. So many regrets. So many wasted moments. He thinks back to the day he requested permission to date Krista the fear he felt when approaching her father. If he would have known then what he knows now would he have still faced her father? Would he have started the relationship that ended in his broken heart? Yes he thinks to himself. I wouldn’t change a thing. The door slowly swings open and Jed is face to face with commander Shafer. She walks over to the wall Jed is slumped up against and sits beside him.

“Commander Mathews told me what happened,” she says looking sympathetically at him.

“Regret is a funny thing. You can let it consume you or you can learn from the mistakes of the past. You were both weak in your own ways. Neither of you is weaker than the other. You were the victims of circumstance, but in the end it’s what you learn from those experiences and mistakes that determine your strength. I want you to always remember that. Who knows maybe one day when they time is right you will get another chance.” She offers as she bumps him with her shoulder. “One thing I have always admired about you, and I think you must have got this from your dad, you have never given up hope. Please don’t lose that Jed. Hope is what we need to win this thing,” she continues as she pats him on the back.

“Thank you commander, I will try to remember that,” he replies. He sniffles once wipes his eyes and gets up to leave. If hope is all I have I will hold on to it. One day I will get a chance to prove my love for Krista and I can’t do that sitting around wallowing in self-pity. He thinks to himself before walking out of the command center and into his new life